According to a recent Direct Marketing Association survey, “The absence of a brick-and-mortar store is becoming prevalent among retailers, since 41 percent of survey respondents don’t have a physical store.” This is quite a surprising finding and certainly has significant ramifications for local media sales representatives who continue to identify and pursue new business opportunities.
In the past, Yellow Pages sales reps were assured they would be able to locate new businesses simply by the fact that they would sign up for telephone service and provide their physical brick-and-mortar address. If the 41 percent number is accurate, it shows how difficult it can be for local sales reps to identify and sell to these virtual retail locations. This situation is challenged further when the virtual business lacks a business line that would place the advertiser in the local area or the online business prefers online communication only and does not desire any phone calls to their offices.
If increasing numbers of retailers are “going virtual” and giving up their brick-and-mortar locations, it seems to further push the balance of local marketing toward online media since this is where they are actively seeking customers. The question becomes what strategies are being developed to identify and sell to these unique “local” customers. Traditional sales prospecting methods need to be adapted to address local online retailers and the sales message and communication of value certainly needs to be different for the YP product set.
Coming up in 2008 we will be examining how online media is being sold and how business prospects are being identified and approached to see what new strategies and best practices are emerging to address a retail world increasingly doing business online.