You might think digital media is top-of-mind for SMBs. But when you ask an open-ended question about how local media companies can help with their marketing needs, the floodgates open to a torrent of frustrations.

The comments come from a massive SMB survey that got underway in April. At the end of the 40-question survey, respondents are asked, “What suggestions, if any, do you have for media companies to improve how they partner with small and medium-sized businesses?”

Nearly everyone is responding. While the most-mentioned words are affordability, cost, ROI, and money (39% used these words), the comments are broad and represent a treasure trove to any company wanting to serve SMBs well.

Below are a handful of responses, with apropos survey results noted in brackets. While there are a number here that mention Facebook, the word only showed up in 1% of the comments. And the words “digital,” “website” or “Internet” popped up only 5% of the time. While that may be surprising, given the rate that so many SMBs seem to be rushing to advertise on social media, go back and look at the wording of the question. Perhaps they don’t perceive local media as naturally positioned to help them with digital media.

Without further ado, here’s peek through the floodgates:

“Do your research BEFORE you call us! I don’t have time to explain the dental industry or our small town to you.”

“Don’t try and be everything. I don’t trust a radio station to provide online marketing just like I wouldn’t trust a print company to make a video.”

“Learn about the business before reaching out to me. It seems like I receive the same opening pitch from everyone even though they have no idea what we’re currently doing and how successful it has been.”

“Don’t tell me how many people read or view the ad or use your media. Tell me how many or what percentage of readers/viewers become new or better customers.”

“Don’t try to push what doesn’t work for a customer. Online advertising hasn’t worked for our organization and I don’t think that will change, but everyone keeps trying to push us to put money towards ads online.”

“Know your stuff! Please do NOT sell digital/mobile products that you do now know inside and out. We had very negative experience with when they tried to sell digital advertising sold by print reps who did not understand the products.”

“Traditional media companies (i.e radio, TV, newspaper) need to do a better job of training their sales and marketing reps on the digital front. I get it that everyone needs to get into the digital sales game, but they do more harm than good when they send out uneducated reps that sell a customer something they can’t fully understand themselves or explain to a customer.” [Preliminary survey data: Only 1 in 5 respondents believe traditional media reps possess significant digital savvy.]

“Hire/Train sales reps who have a basic understanding of digital advertising.”

“In my opinion, web content is way too overvalued. $12 CPM is NUTS when we average a $4 CPM on Facebook and 90% of residents in our area use Facebook.” [Preliminary survey data: 64% of respondents have bought Facebook ads.]

“Show the benefit of your media format (e.g. if you are radio, talk about how you reach a more centralized demographic than a Facebook ad etc.)”

“I understand and know more about digital advertising than 99% of the advertising salespeople. Most ad reps only know about and sell their specific product. They are no use to me in evaluating a balanced, comprehensive plan using all media types. Furthermore, people’s habits are changing. They get their news and information from the Internet more than TV and print. I need to be able to figure out where my target audience goes for their news and information, and advertise there.”

“Become more digitally minded. Don’t try and package them together. Keep your digital rate competitive.”

“Better advertising packages i.e. if an ad is placed to be run in print, it should also be run on the website and promoted.” [Preliminary survey data: Nearly two-thirds of respondents have not bought a banner ad on a traditional media’s website.]

“Feels like they are ‘selling’ to you, not that they have a great innovative idea. If someone had a great idea on how to reach my target – MDs, RNs, and Hospitals – I would listen. But generally they are trying to sell me something targeted to the wrong audience.”

“I would advise calling less and emailing more, because I often times find myself extremely busy and annoyed by the many calls I receive each day.” [Preliminary survey data: 81% of respondents say they prefer sales reps to contact them via email, versus 17% for phone and in-person.]

“A very significant number (90%+) of our new customers find us with Internet search and our website.” [Preliminary survey data: 94% of companies say they have a website; 39% say their website is ecommerce-enabled.]

“Offer more Facebook strategies to help companies narrowly target their potential customers.”

“There isn’t one medium that is the answer to all advertising challenges. Be realistic, don’t tell me you can fix everything. Think about my success and partner with the best fit for a good overall advertising plan. Share the budget (with other media) and make it work. I guarantee I will be a long term, spending every month advertiser if you create a successful campaign for me.”

The comments are from the heart. In most cases they reflect a genuine frustration. For a media company that truly wants to build its client base, the comments are a goldmine of information. They certainly point to the need to train sales reps – especially on how to sell the value of their media products to clients who apparently don’t understand that advertising is an investment, not a cost.