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Kicking off the small-business “Super Forum” at Interactive Local Media 2008 here in Santa Clara, California, Jeff Stibel, CEO of (overachiever alert, he is also a brain scientist), laid out some more ugly facts about the economy — small-business earnings not just down but way down, unemployment climbing, credit frozen, don’t even mention the Dow … So he asks, what shall we do, “curl up and hide … or look for silver linings?”

Obviously no one is going to bother giving the “curl up and hide speech,” so Stibel argued that things are “not that bad.” There is money out there; for example, the Small Business Administration has money to lend. Commodity prices are down.

To the surprise of some, Stibel took issue with some of the conventional wisdom about the demise of traditional media, in particular print Yellow Pages. He called talk of Yellow Pages being dead “hogwash.” A better way of thinking about it is that “the Internet is becoming part of traditional media.” For small businesses, “the best solution is the balanced solution.”

Also interesting from this session was Paul Ryan, CEO of Done Right, discussing his use of a print directory, the Orange Book, as part of his overall approach (remember Insider Pages?). It fit into an emerging theme that it’s not about digital replacing traditional as much as understanding how digital and traditional will coexist and complement each other.

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  1. x2 this post. As a producer of local video that is intended for online positioning and consumption, I am in small businesses across the Midwest on a frequent basis. While interest is high in video (otherwise I would not be there), nearly every SMB owner I meet with has zero knowledge of online media. They do have abundant comfort AND knowledge of traditional media. Traditional media is very much alive and kicking based on what I see and hear. Video is fast growing but requires much more effort to get the asset complete and online, which is kind of an Achilles heel for online video. But the lure of having your very one TV ad on a small screen is a strong magnet for most of the SMBs I have met with. The most important link in this whole chain is the sales rep out working their territory. If that sales rep is a Luddite or does not believe in video, SMB video will not happen in that territory. Very few SMBs will proactively pursue a video ad, but if the video ad is part of a traditional media package it stands a much better chance of happening.
    my .02
    Jeff Bach
    Quietwater Films

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