Sometimes the view from a lofty perch is not the best view..

I was slow in responding to this biting commentary as we were working with local small businesses on our New Smyrna book, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share some of the weird, warped impressions some have from their lofty perches high atop the Internet.  It’s a classic.  It’s a little long but worth reading.

Here is the original comment I received in it’s entirety, unedited from “Ella”:

Ken,
You are most definitely a great salesperson any company would love to have on their payroll. Having said that, you are promoting an almost obsolete product using skewed stats that for all I know are based on a remote part somewhere in the USA that has limited access to internet or maybe, from various senior retirement communities where they don’t know how to use modern day technology. I can personally attest that in my employment background screening industry where we deal with tech savvy business, none of our potential clients would look for an employment screening company out of the YP also given the fact that we service a nationwide market rather than a restricted local market. I’m sure that most YP sales persons who are making a somewhat decent living, in my opinion have to be:
1. Very aggressive (maybe even heartless when selling to mom and pops)
2. Carry a fancy brochure with dizzying stats, comparisons YP vs. Internet, ROI’s and so forth. Obviously, the presentation is very elaborate and systematically methodical (always BE CLOSING).
3. Asking the clients questions whereby they end up trapping themselves into an ironclad contract that automatically renews itself (hey, we got a live one here!)
In conclusion, maybe YP may work as a short lived miracle for a very limited some, but not for the majority of business out there. I remember back in the early days of the internet, YP would compete by offering clients results based pricing using a metered phone line and soon realized the writing on the wall. In a real-life scenario, But then again, you appear to be a great sposkeman/sales person for the YP industry.
Question: Would you sell a $800 a month ad to your own family member that say had a struggling print shop or any other storefront type?

And my response:

Ella:

Sorry for the slow response as we were closing another successful local print yellow pages, which grew from last year, so we were more than busy.

So let’s see, where do I start?  You obviously haven’t left your lofty perch to get out into the market to understand what it is we do.  But let’s break down your comments:

an almost obsolete product“:  if that was true can you explain how one of local plumbers gets over 110 calls a month on their call tracking line, the number for which only appears in their print YP ad??  Or how about the storage yard that gets 2/3rds of all their calls from their ad based on their manual recording of each call they get, as it also has a call tracking number in the ad??

Carry a fancy brochure with dizzying stats, comparisons YP vs. Internet, ROI’s and so forth“:  Sorry to disappoint you but the only thing my people and I walk in with is the book, the current call tracking data, and a stack of testimonials we get from the usage contest we run in the book.  All of that is printed on regular paper using my cheap inkjet printer.   The presentation is neither elaborate nor “systematically methodical”.  It is a discussion about where there business is, where are they looking to go with it, and how can we help them.  In most cases, we can help.  There are some businesses that are more wholesale/middle men in an established process, in which case, the product can’t do a lot for them but we still recommend they have a bold listing or small in-column ad with relevant info like websites, fax numbers, and other key contact information.  And then there are businesses like yours that really aren’t used by local small businesses – as you noted in your own comments.   But you also missed the key point that we are more than just print.  Everything we do in print is also online at www.SmallPondYP.com .

“…end up trapping themselves into an ironclad contract that automatically renews itself (hey, we got a live one here!)”:   Our advertising rates cover a full year cycle, in most cases.  That makes sense since the book is on the street for a year.  But we do have other products that run for different lengths.  We also don’t do “autor renew”.  Each year (or more often) we again visit with those local businesses (as in go their stores/offices/job sites/etc) to discuss what’s changed and how we can help them change/update their advertising message.  We don’t call.  We go meet them, face-to-face.   And I don’t think we’ve ever held a gun to any ones head to get them to sign the contract.  In fact, I review the entire contract before I hand them the pen to sign it.

So let me address your main question:

Question: Would you sell a $800 a month ad to your own family member that say had a struggling print shop or any other storefront type?

Answer:  If after meeting with them to understand why they had a “struggling” business, and our products were a fit for their core customers, YES, without hesitation.

But you also are naïve in that I don’t have an ad that cost’s $800/month unless you want to buy a cover ad, which I would probably never recommend to a “struggling” business, and to be honest, the cover ads are all sold.  None are available.

Now Ella, since you didn’t do your homework, you would probably have not noticed that I spent over 10 years in the recruiting world.  I can tell you that we encountered numerous “employment background screening” companies and we consistently found aggressive tactics to woo unqualified candidates just so they had fresh meat to tee up for a client, rampant misuse of candidate data, and inconsistent screening.  Hopefully you don’t work of one of those type companies.

If you do, we have half dozen reputable local companies listed in our print directory that you can call…

2 responses to “Sometimes the view from a lofty perch is not the best view..

  1. Ken,

    Excellent points that you shared with Ella. Maybe her business is more suitable to be promoted with online product. But, we continue to see great results in the printed word. So much so, that some who left are coming back.

    I can only continue to mention that when a large portion of a city loses electrical power, such as the case in the Joplin , MO tornado two and a half years ago, that all of a sudden the phone book becomes a lifeline. We left books at key disaster relief areas and 1,000 were gone in a few days.

    And, just yesterday, a major hotel in Joplin reopened and requested 70 books as they knew their guests still needed books to find local restaurants, etc in a timely manner.

    Chuck Lackner

  2. Enjoyed your back and forth. Nicely put. Thanks!

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