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I recently attended a Midwest regional meeting that examined issues like social media strategies and search engine optimization. Although many businesses struggle with these issues today, I guarantee that their angst is nothing like what we’re going through in the publishing industry. After all, we’re seeing venerable newspapers and print publications going belly up, not only because of the economy, but because of a long-developing dichotomy between print and online content. (Not coincidentally, last month we unveiled our redesigned Web site; take a look at agentandbroker.com.) The American Business Media event I attended was held at the Chicago headquarters of Google–a business that while undergoing issues of its own, still maintains offices that manage to exude an air of hip insouciance. The keynote speaker was Jim Lecinski, Google’s managing director, who spoke about what businesses can do to get the most marketing bang for their bucks. Along with the usual dire predictions for ad sales in most consumer print and electronic mediums, his research cited an estimated 5 percent uptick in digital ads for 2009. One of Lecinski’s pieces of advice was to “fish where the fish are,” meaning that businesses should advertise where consumers are spending the most dollars: specifically, at online sites like Yahoo, MSN, MySpace and AOL. What, if anything, does this mean for independent agents and brokers? Simply this: In order to reach your current and potential customers, you need to think about how they are communicating, and then do the same.

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