Monthly Archives: December 2010

View From The Corner Office: An interview with Dave Goddard, Simba Information

Perhaps no one issue is more relevant, current, or strategically important for the Yellow Pages industry right now than  some of the recent environmental challenges it has faced.  Up until recently the industry had managed to fight back most efforts. But a new ordinance passed by the Seattle City Council which would levee new registration fees for publishers, require mandatory opt-out compliance, and impose significant new waster recovery fees per book distributed has now brought the issue to the fore front.

Simba Information, led by Senior Analyst of the Yellow Pages Group, David Goddard, has released a comprehensive new report covering the full spectrum of the topic entitled Going Green:  Environmental Challenges in the Yellow Pages industry 2010. Goddard is a recognized authority on the industry having covered it since 1997.  He oversees the content gathering and presentation of Simba’s Yellow Pages & Directory Report and numerous related research reports. This work is an exceptional piece covering not only the general industry issues, but also provides readers with more detailed views inside most of the major publisher efforts.

We recently sat down with Goddard to further discuss his views on this hot topic. Enjoy.

YPT: How was this study assembled??

GODDARD:   Generally, Simba gathers the information for a report for about a year, which gives some solid trend lines. We then analyze the information and publish it. We have tracked the environmental impact on the industry for the past few years but this year Seattle brought the impact on the industry right to the forefront. While we discovered the industry has become more green over the past few years—primarily since the beginning of the PSI hearings in 2007 — it may be too little and too late. A number of states  and municipalities are already looking closely at the cost of yellow pages recycling just as Seattle did and may decide to recoup the money.   Seattle is going to charge the publishers as much as $600,000 at year to do business in their community. That will probably look very inviting to legislators.

YPT:  Is your overall sense that the industry understands how serious an issue this really is?

GODDARD:   Absolutely, I remember the first few environmental meetings that came up in 2007 & 2008. The publishers were surprised by the environmental issue as it pertained to their industry.  But, now they have educated themselves and a great deal of the credit goes to the YPA and ADP associations.  The publishers now work hard to making recycling of yellow pages directories more convenient and have gotten behind the green movement. However, the challenge is quite large because publishers are dealing with individual states and municipalities.

YPT:  In YP Talk articles we recently suggested that this lawsuit may not be a totally bad thing for this industry.  It could almost be viewed as an inexpensive public relations effort from the industry.  Do you agree??

GODDARD:   It is likely there will be a more united industry. Seattle is already proving itself to be a good example: two of the RBOCs and the YPA have filed the suit against the city ordinance and Yellowbook, which also distributed in the city, has thrown support behind them.   The money that will be owed to Seattle if this ordinance is upheld is really going to pinch. And, it won’t take long for environmental groups in cities like Chicago, which are already in contact with Seattle, to look to do the same.   Publishers may well have to pay to distribute in some of the cities and communities. Hopefully, both sides in Seattle will come up with a compromise that will work for publishers and the city. What that compromise would be, I’m not sure but I suspect they will be looking for one.

YPT:  Publishers have suggested that opt-out rates are only about 1% of the total delivery , and that it is a small fragment doing all the complaining/blogging about the issue while rest of the community isn’t really engaged in the discussion.

GODDARD:   Those statistics sound about right from what I’m hearing but the issue has now moved into the political arena.  If the Seattle model expands, communities across the U.S. are going to ask taxpayers if they want to continue to pay for recycling phone books or send a bill to yellow pages publishers.  I think the taxpayers’ answer is pretty obvious. Communities are going to go for the money. So, even if it’s only 1% of the households that don’t want the book delivered, the political arena is likely to give communities the legal right to send Joe Walsh a bill.  The publishers have to pay the bill, go to court in an attempt to have the ordinance overturned or come up with a compromise.

YPT:  Wouldn’t the process agreed to in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area be the better route for all parties (agreement to set up a single source opt-out program with fees involved.   So, I think me the issues is that if there were no fees involved then say you have to offer the opt-out I don’t think that would bother anyone.

GODDARD:  Minneapolis/St. Paul was a good compromise but communities are always looking for additional revenue.  While cooperation with business is a goal, the Seattle model is an opportunity to offset some expenses. It would be nice for the industry if the Seattle model doesn’t spread but it’s pretty likely that it will.

YPT:  Specific to the Seattle ordinance, it seems that the ordinance champion, Councilman O’Brien, really has his eyes on a bigger loft (State House).

GODDARD:  Yes, you’re right.  Who’s going to be against cleaning up a community?  O’Brien told Simba in a recent interview: “If you produce it, you should pay to get rid of it.”  And, who can successfully argue with that?

YPT:  In which key areas do you think we’re going to similar legislation come up with next?

GODDARD: My understanding is that environmental groups in Chicago are looking to Seattle but don’t want the legal bill, so they are waiting to see what happens.  How long will a court case like this last – 18 months to 3 years?  It’s certainly going to take a while, so I expect we’ll see a lot of communities watching and waiting. If the Seattle ordinance is upheld, communities are likely to follow the model. Two RBOCs and the YPA, which represents a major portion of the business, have recognized the danger of a strong fee-based environmental model and drawn the line in Seattle.

YPT:  But if they lose?

GODDARD:  Those flood gates are going to open if they lose.  It will be costly to the publishers in Seattle and most likely will become expensive in other communities as well. Since the stakes are so large, a settlement really seems likely.

YPT:  You indicated that one of the things that surprised you in your work on this publication was how green the publishers have become.  Tell us more about that.

GODDARD:   Basically, unlike previous years, we’re seeing a lot of progress. In past years we would search the publishers’ web sites and find that opt-out was available but the procedure was difficult. A person who wanted to opt out often had to hunt through the site, follow many steps and sometimes end up placing a phone call to the publisher rather than an online procedure.   But this year it has gotten pretty easy.  And, the YPA and the ADP, which has their own opt-out site, are about to take it national.  So the industry really is going ‘green’ and working toward recycling—that is the big difference from past years.  Back in 2006 before the PSI (Product Stewardship Institute, an environmental advocacy group) meetings, you often couldn’t find yellow pages recycling information anywhere on a publisher’s site. By 2010 a resident can opt out of a book or find the closest recycling center without much difficulty all across the country.

YPT:  Publishers have indicated that the actual opt-out rates are running under 1%, and have slowed to a trickle.  How do you view this result??

GODDARD:   What opt-out does is create a choice and Seattle is a good example because three of the largest yellow pages publishers—Dex, Super Media and Yellow Book—distribute directories in the market. What is likely to happen is two of those publishers will be “opted-out” and a household will receive one book. Environmentalist groups seem to really get fired up when multiple publishers deliver multiple books multiple times a year. Many, many books then arrive at the landfill or recycling center, which is a great photo opportunity. That’s what draws attention and that’s where they see unnecessary costs to the taxpayer.  An average yellow pages user may not even recognize the differences between books delivered to their home, never mind the difference between incumbent and independent.   Given an opt-out choice, I doubt there will be many residents that love the yellow pages so much that they want to receive all three. I just don’t see that happening and with a door-to-door campaign like the one planned by Seattle environmentalists, the opt-out option will definitely come to the surface.

YPT:  If you were leading a print Yellow Pages publishing operation, what steps would you be taking now?

GODDARD:   Basically they have to get into Seattle and file a suit that points out the defects in the ordinance, including the question of why yellow pages publishers need a permit to operate in the city but newspaper publishers don’t.  There are a number of questions raised by the Seattle ordinance that appear to fly in the face of the First Amendment.  While the publishers have to make an expensive stand in Seattle, it can also be an opportunity.  It may well be in the best interest of the industry to find a compromise that becomes a model across the country rather than kill the Seattle ordinance in court and face continuous battles in other communities.

The yellow industry is going greener while the environmental groups are getting stronger, more united and savvy with working with politicians. This entire issue really came to the forefront on the East Coast when Verizon Information Services [now SuperMedia] split its big book in Boston into three regional editions. The issue has now spread across the country to the West Coast and the environmentalists and publishers are in this together. As Sieg Fischer, president of Valley Yellow Pages, said at the PSI dialogue at the Seattle EPA office a couple of years ago, “We all live on this planet; maybe we can work this out together.”  The Seattle ordinance and lawsuit could supply that cooperation.

And lastly, the PSI group has some real credibility and they have influence all over the country.  The institute, which has been involved with multiple industries ranging from batteries to pesticides, seems to know how to work with environmentalists and businesses.  The wisest course of action may be to work more closely with PSI to find a compromise. They may wear green shoes, but the truth of the matter is that they are pretty savvy.

YPT:  How much is the report and how can someone order a copy?

GODDARD:   The report costs $2,995 for an online download and this is the link: http://www.simbainformation.com/pub/2648050.html

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Sales: Bah Humbug – Call me after the holidays

Since the holiday decorations have been up in some stores since before Halloween, I guess we have to concede that it is “that time of year” again, the time when many sales reps here that most feared annual objection of  “Call me after the holidays.”  Perhaps no one objection can be more frustrating to sales reps, even the best of ones competing for that rep of the year award during the final few weeks of the year.

Renowned sales expert Jeff Gitomer suggests that “Call me back after the holidays,” is not an objection, it’s a stall.  He provides 11.5 clever lines and tactics (click here) which are interesting, maybe even a little entertaining, but may not be right for our industry.  For example, #4 — Tell them about your resolutions. “I’ve made a New Year’s resolution that I’m not going to let people like you who need our service, delay until after the first of the year. You know you need it.”

But Gitomer does bring up a key point — when you get a stall, you have to somehow get around it and find the real objection before you can proceed.

We contacted some of the industries better known sales trainers/coaches and asked how they would suggest reps handle this objection.  Jacqui Ponkey, the President Genesis Publisher Services suggested that her best response is this:  

”Wouldn’t it be nice to head into the holidays with this behind you?  I know it’s a decision that you don’t like to make so let’s get it out of the way and enter the New Year with one more “unpleasant task” behind you.  And the added bonus is that you can then take the tax deduction on the advertising expense for the 2010 tax year!”

Tom Baldwin at Kuk, Baldwin, & Associates suggested the rep provide some sort of motivation for the customer to invest some time –NOW!  Here are two possible examples:

“Okay, Mr/Ms customer, it would be great to arrange a date in early January, but I wanted to share with you some really startling data I had on the size of the ______ market (insert customer’s business) right here in (Timbuktoo)…”

Or,  “That’s fine, but I was hoping to share with you a national survey of what  companies in your industry say in their ads and I’ve done an analysis of your ad so you can see how it compares.”

What’s your favorite tactic to battle this stall/objection??  Comment below or drop me a note at ken@yptalk.com.

People – December

This regular monthly blog sponsored Hawthorne Executive Search is all about people in the Yellow Pages industry. If you have news you want to share about someone that is involved in the Yellow Pages industry (including retirees) that we should all know about, drop us a line and tell us how they are doing. Send your submissions to ken@yptalk.com.

David Gilbert:

Ziplocal’s VP-Sales, Eastern Division – Dave Gilbert will be leaving the company effective December 3rd to return to college for another degree (he is considering teaching at university level) and to work with various charitable organizations.

Dave has had a long and successful career in the Yellow Pages industry have started in 1984 with BellSouth Advertising & Publishing.  He left in 1993 to start his own company, the Neighborhood Yellow Pages, which was later to sold to Volt (DataNational) in 1998.  Following the sale, he served as Chief Operating Officer for DataNational until 2008 when the company was acquired by Yellow Pages Group (YPG).  Following the sale, he served as the company’s VP of US Sales. When YPG sold the company to Ziplocal in April, 2010, Dave was appointed the VP-Sales, Eastern Division.

We wish Dave the best in his future endeavors.  Whatever he chooses to work on, there is no doubt he will be successful at it.

Charles Ruppman:

Charles Ruppman recently died at the age of 95 in Tualatin, Ore., where he lived for the past four years.  Ruppman parlayed his experience with the Yellow Pages directory into a thriving company while setting up one of the first call centers in the country.  After working for R. H. Donnelly, Ruppman moved to Peoria in 1962.

“He originally worked with Thompson Advertising and developed the Yellow Pages division here. Later, Bob Thompson died and he set up Ruppman Advertising,” said son Charles T. Ruppman.  “He went on to grow the business and be very successful. He developed three separate companies. There was Ruppman Advertising, Ruppman Yellow Pages and Today’s Merchandising,” he said.  Ruppman later went to New York to negotiate with Time-Life for the purchase of a telephone call center in Peoria, one of the first in the country.

The business kept growing after Ruppman retired in the 1970s as his son developed Ruppman Marketing Services, which expanded the call-center functions out to three buildings in Peoria. In the 1980s, Ruppman’s firm fielded most of the 800-number calls that customers made across the country from the Peoria offices.  The Ruppman company was sold in 2004 and renamed Affina.

“Without him and his drive and foresight, none of it would have happened. Our products and services were known all over the United States,” said Charles T. Ruppman of the Ruppman companies, which at their peak employed about 2,400 people nationwide – more than 600 in Peoria.  “He was a big part of the Peoria community,” his son said, adding that he “engaged in a number of community service campaigns.”

Michael Pawlowski, David Bethea, Del Humenik, and Steven Nord

SuperMedia has announced several changes to their Executive Vice President Sales.  East EVP Sales – Michael Pawlowski, has retired after more than 25 years of service and West EVP Sales – West David Bethea, has announced his intent to pursue other opportunities.

Two new Executive Vice Presidents (EVPs) will oversee the sales operations in the East and West.  Effective immediately, long time industry veteran Del Humenik will lead the East Sales operation as EVP Sales – East.  Humenik rejoins SuperMedia after his departure in 2003.  Prior to his departure, he was employed by the SuperMedia predecessor companies for more than 19 years, holding positions of increasing responsibility in the Sales organization. Most recently, Humenik worked for Paychex Inc. as Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing.  He also held senior sales positions with Sprint, Dex and R.H. Donnelley.

Steven Nord who initially started with SuperMedia as a sales consultant, and will now serve as interim EVP Sales – West.  Nord, who has worked for Dex, SBC and Ameritech, is very familiar with the SuperMedia business.  He began his work in the Yellow Pages industry at L.M. Berry, and his career spans more than three decades.

Michael Pocock:

Yell is appointing a new CEO January 1st – Michael Pocock, a former SVP and GM from Cisco’s Linksys home networking division. The announcement ended a six-month search for a successor to John Condron, who has led Yell for 16 years.

From 2006 to 2009, Pocock was Senior Vice President and General Manager of Linksys, the home and SME networking division of Cisco Systems. Prior to Linksys, he was President and Chief Executive of Polaroid Corporation, which he joined in 2003, leading the recovery of the company to profitability and being instrumental in its sale to Peters Group Worldwide. From 1996 to 2002, Michael worked with Compaq Computer Corporation, in roles including Senior Vice President of its Commercial PC business and Senior Vice President for Worldwide Strategy. Prior to that, from 1993 to 1996, he was Vice President and General Manager of the Personal Computing Business of Digital Equipment Corporation.

Pocock started his career with General Electric Company and has also held senior positions in Epson America, Murata Business Systems and Xerox Corporation. From 2003 to 2007, he was on the Board of Stratus Technologies and, from 2005 to 2007, he was on the Board of Wyse Computer.

Pocock has A BA in Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky and has MBA studies at the University of Dallas.

Bob Wigley, Chairman of Yell, said: “We very much welcome Mike. He brings impressive leadership skills and experience from his considerable success in a range of businesses, which made him stand out from a strong candidate list and suit him ideally to the challenges and opportunities of Yell. With the arrival of our new CFO designate and the appointment of Mike, we have the right team in place to manage a seamless succession and to take Yell forward in the next stages of its development.”

UPDATE:  12/9/2010:

Peter McDonald was made the permanent CEO at SuperMedia:  http://bit.ly/fgp9nk