Monthly Archives: August 2011

Cutting Advertising During A Recession – Not A Smart Move

In February of 2008, we ran the following article on the YP Talk website:  Cutting Advertising During a Recession.   The article quoted several sources that all made the same point — the dumbest move an advertiser or marketer can make in a slow economy/recession is to cut their advertising budget.

The facts are clear from numerous studies conducted during recent recession periods.  For example, McGraw-Hill Research analyzed 600 companies covering 16 different SIC industries from the 1980 through 1985 period. The results showed that B2B firms that maintained or increased their advertising expenditures during the 1981-1982 recession averaged significantly higher sales growth, both during the recession and for the following three years, than those that eliminated or decreased advertising. By 1985, sales of companies that were aggressive recession advertisers had risen 256% over those that didn’t keep up their advertising.  The article also provides other links to similar type results.

In the article we noted the comments from Saatchi & Saatchi’s Kevin Roberts,
writing for Advertising Age magazine best summarize it — “Consumers don’t stop buying when economies go though down cycles. They look harder for value.”

Or, as another unnamed major business-to-business advertiser put it “When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must

Yes, this economy still is sluggish in many markets.  And not doubt, many small businesses are struggling.  But if they want their business to succeed and thrive, it’s time to spend more on a solid advertising program that has a solid, real positive ROI.  Can you say “yellow pages”???

Do Advertisers Know Who You Are??

In June of 2007, we ran the following article on the YP Talk
website:  Do Advertisers Know Who You Are?  We think many of the key points we made in this article are still true.  Sections of the article follow:

Quick question: Can you remember the name of the sales rep that
you bought/leased your last car from?? Based on my highly unscientific survey,
less than 10% of the people I talked to could remember their name, and this is
for one of the largest expenditures you will probably make other than your
home. Yet, I know our sales rep’s name very well – he’s Phil Mckinney.

Why do I know Phil’s name even some 3 years since we last did business with him? Sure, Phil is a nice guy with a very understandable southern drawl. He attends church regularly every Sunday. Overall, he seems to be a very
upstanding citizen. But it’s not his personality that has me remembering his
name. It is more because every 3 to 4 months, I get a letter, post card or a
phone call from him just to say hello. Sometimes it acknowledges a birthday or
anniversary. Sometimes it may have a line or two about new models that have
come out. Overall, it is a totally low pressure sales approach which is solely
intended to keep his name fresh in our memory. And it works. Whenever we get
one of his handwritten notes, it makes us chuckle; another note from Phil has

When I asked Phil about this program, he acknowledged there is a system that the dealership has been using that prompts him to reach out to everyone on his list of former buyers about every 90 days. The beauty of this program is it keeps
him in touch with the over 4,000 former clients he has worked with. He
indicated repeat buyers are his primary earnings opportunity and this
consistent follow-up has kept him successful for over 21 years in car sales.
“You can make a living on new business that may come through the door, but not
a very good one.” This follow-up program requires about 6 to 7 hours on average
a week of his time.

This led me to wonder about Yellow Pages sales. If a car sales rep needs to keep up this level of customer contact for purchases that happen on average every four years, does the typical Yellow Page advertiser know their reps name?? At worst, they get a visit at least once a year. In another very informal, unscientific
survey, I asked the last 10 local advertisers I did business with if they could
name their Yellow Pages rep. You should know that in this market, there are at
least 4 different Yellow Page publishers calling on these businesses. The most
recent book canvasses were just completed within the last 6 or so months. The
results from my survey were a little depressing – only two thought they might
remember their names, and one did ask for which publisher (indicating they
knew the names of more than one publisher rep).

I’m hoping that this 30% result is just an aberration of my most recent contacts.
Given that car sales reps probably rank right at the bottom of the food chain
of people we admire, you would think that Yellow Pages reps would come up a
couple of notches higher. This is even more important at a time when industry
research has shown the beginnings of a clear transition from print only to
print and online advertising. Yellow Pages lifeblood has been its long term,
trusted relationship with local advertisers. While I still believe this
industry is the best positioned of any media to work with small/mid-sized
businesses to help them develop and implement a marketing program that works
best for them regardless of the media, how the heck is that going to happen when they don’t even know who the name was of the last rep they just talked with??????   What are publishers doing to keep the benefits of their products fresh in the advertisers mind? And where is a coordinated industry campaign that reminds both users and advertisers of the benefits of working with your Yellow Pages, both the print and online versions?

If I’m wrong about this, drop me a line ( and tell me what your team is doing to stay in touch with its client base.

In an update since we wrote this story, Phil has since retired.  Now who am I am going to buy my next car from???  For the millions of small to midsized businesses that rely on Yellow Pages for their advertising programs, who are they going to call to get help with their next advertising program???

Seattle Green Efforts Come Up Way Short

You have to be one tough hombre to live in Seattle.  It can be one of the most depressing places to live and work.  The city averages 226 cloudy days and 155 days of rain a year.   That maybe one reason why the city needs some 9,000+ coffee shops just to help you make it through the day.  It’s also not a cheap place to live:  compared to the rest of the country, Seattle’s cost of living is 42.60% HIGHER than the U.S. average.  I think it may even have some green envy since Portland, not Seattle, was named as one of the top 10 most eco-oriented cities in the world, mostly because of a comprehensive plan to reduce CO2 emissions and aggressive green building initiatives.  And since I found all of these depressing stats on the Internet, of course they must be true.

So can we really blame the city for wanting to be first at something?  Why not try to pick on print yellow pages.  Their unique but ultimately illegal attempts
to force a city run opt-out program and recycling fees on yellow page publishers
have been well documented here:

To show you how misguided its civic leaders are, consider this recent stroke of genius:  to try to get Seattle residents and businesses to follow their opt-out jihad on phone books, residents have been urged by mail through a yellow postcard from Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) on how to stop receiving “unwanted phone books”.

During July, yellow post cards (ironic choice of color for the card don’t
you think) were sent to 280,000 residence and business addresses so that
Seattleites who “….don’t have Internet access can select their phone book
delivery preferences by mail.”  In the ultimate in hypocrisy, the program coordinator:

“….acknowledged the irony of sending out mail to encourage people to stop junk mail but he pointed out that the mailer, which will use four tons of paper, is expected to help 28,000 more households and businesses stop 168,000 phone book deliveries, saving 150 tons of paper….”

How many of those 280K post cards, or 4 TONS OF PAPER do you think will be recycled?? And the outcry from all of those “green” champions who despise Yellow Pages?  Haven’t heard a peep out of them yet.  Zip, zilch, nanda, zero.  So junk mail is ok now in Seattle??

But wait.  It gets better.   King County has initiated a new online service to help eliminate junk mail for those live outside the City of Seattle.  As King County
Executive Dow Constantine acknowledged, “…recycling is great, but reducing
waste at the source is even better…”    Perhaps the city of Seattle should take note.

Or even just do a little research before they plunged headlong into this ridiculous effort.  For example, if they had just bothered to look at the recent research from Market Authority which conducted 185,000 interviews on how American’s search for a local business.

They would have found irrefutable data, analysis and reporting on how
people look for a local business when making a local buying decision. The
research fully dispels the prevalent “urban myth” that the Internet has taken
over the local search arena:

“The Internet is gaining ground but surprisingly, overall it is a long way from dominating print Yellow Pages as America’s primary search option,” says Deanna S. Helsten, Director of Research Market Authority, Inc. “We
determine and prove print versus Internet sage…actuality and perception, smart phone ownership and usage, Internet connectivity, etc., market by market, all organized by today’s ever growing imperative – age groups,” states Steve Sitton, CEO Market Authority, Inc.

The research detailed the often remarkable difference between metropolitan,
suburban and rural markets. In nearly every market in America, print yellow pages is still very strong.

But Seattle is clearly intent on going in a different direction.  I assume they missed this annoucement since it didn’t come in their junk mail……

Be Ready For Those Objections

It can be the most dreaded point in any sales call — the objection. For many newer reps, that first objection results in a sinking heart, a stomach that goes into turmoil, and a mind racing into overdrive trying to figure out how to deal with it.  It’s simple enough to say that if you can’t get past those objections,
you are not going to make the sale. If you are following the proposal guidelines
provided by most publishers to their sales teams of having at least one more aggressive plan than the advertiser currently has, even with your best of clients, you can expect you’ll hear some objections.   Objections are a necessary part of the buying process. Objections can be our friends. In fact, the only thing dumber than not being prepared for objections is hoping you don’t get any.

Many objections are simply knee jerk reactions that advertisers have been conditioned or programmed to say to sales people, all sales people (and they get to see many of them). Things like, “I can’t afford it”, “I don’t need to advertise, everyone knows who we are”, or even the famous “I’m not going to buy anything today” line.

Sales experts will tell you that most of the time; these are simply stall tactics, and not really true objections.  Some objections can be out and out lies, like, “I need to talk with my wife first.” or “I can’t do anything until _________ happens.”   Depending on which source you look at, the average customer will object or tell you “No” between four to seven times. So by definition, a true salesperson has to ask for the sale somewhere between five to eight different times before an average customer can look you in the eye, tell you “No”, and actually mean it!

How do you get past these objections?  Here are a few simple but effective tips
we’ve gathered from those sales experts.

Tip #1:  It’s not personal, it’s just business

First and foremost, understand that it’s not personal.  They aren’t rejecting
you.  Many objections don’t even necessarily mean, “No,” they just may mean “Not yet.” They are simply requests for more information or to understand how this proposal you made is really going to help their business.

Tip #2:  Did you do your fact-finding before you started the proposal??

Jacqui Ponkey, the President of Genesis Publishing Services, a provider of sales training to numerous publishers believes that poor fact-finding (needs identification) is an instant opportunity for objections —  “if you haven’t identified a need that your recommendations are fulfilling, then where is the value of what you’re offering to that business?  You need to understand
where that business is positioned and then give the customer enough relevant
information, i.e., build value, so that the benefits of owning outweigh the
cost of ownership”

Tip #3:  Create an objections cheat-sheet

To help you be prepared for objections, it can help to have a tool or guide
that outlines all of the most common or anticipated objections that you are
likely to get while cold calling for the product or service that you are
selling. And to be most useful, this list of objections will also include the
best responses that you can use to respond to those objections.

Do a little brainstorming and create a list of all of the possible objections that you are likely to receive. This list will be different for each product and service but there are some that are common objections that come up regardless of the scenario.  From my rides with industry reps, the three most common ones are:

  • I don’t advertiser//everyone knows me//I get
    all of my business from word-of-mouth.
  • No one use print yellow pages anymore.
  • I do not have money (budget) to advertise.

Tip #4:  Script out your best responses

Now that you have anticipated what those most common objections are, prepare a script of the best responses that you can have for these objections. If you talk with your fellow sales peers, you will get different opinions on what the best responses are, but the goal for the responses should be for to keep the cold call going and to get the prospect to put down that stop sign.

Tip #5:  Practice those responses and keep adding to you list

In front of the mirror, with your significant other, or even with your dog (if
he will sit and listen long enough), go through those responses so you can be
confident in quickly presenting them as the objection comes up.

Tip #6:  Don’t argue.   Show some empathy:

Never say, “I don’t agree with you”, “that’s not really true is it”, or “…no that’s not right and here’s why…”  Trying to suggest or prove that they do not understand or have made a mistake will simply make them feel foolish or angry.

Ponkey again recommends that you “acknowledge their concern or issue, and then make your point to support why this ad program works for them.”


Objections are not to be feared.  Consider it being half way to getting to a

DMS 11: The Must Attend Industry Event of the Year

BIA/Kelsey is confirming speakers for its annual conference, Directional Media Strategies 2011, where discussions will focus on the small-business marketing solutions marketplace.  The conference will be held Sept. 20-22 in Denver.

This conference has evolved since it started back in the mid-1990’s.  The current DMS ’11 program will feature more than 50 senior executives from across the SMB marketing solutions landscape. Among the speakers headlining the event are Rita Fabi, head of market solutions, global customer marketing and
communications, Facebook; Joe Walsh, president and CEO, Yellowbook; Clare Hart, CEO, Infogroup; Tom Higley, CEO, Local Matters; Nir Lempert, CEO, Golden Pages; Ben Smith, founder, MerchantCircle; and Bill Dinan, president, Telmetrics.

We have all seen how small and medium-sized businesses are using an increasingly diverse, complex mix of traditional and digital marketing tools and technologies. For example, BIA/Kelsey’s most recent Local Commerce Monitor study showed a major jump in the average number of different media used by SMBs for local advertising and promotion — from 3.1  in 2009 to 4.6 in 2010.
Most of the change has come from the addition of digital media to their
traditional advertising programs.

“For today’s small businesses, marketing has gone beyond simply making the phone ring,” said DMS ’11 Conference Chairman Charles Laughlin, senior vice president and program director, BIA/Kelsey.  “SMB marketers now require a complex mix of products and services to drive leads, measure performance, manage customer relationships and engage customers.”

Laughlin indicated that DMS ’11 will bring together innovators and thought leaders to examine the components of modern SMB marketing and analyze where the biggest opportunities are for players in the local-social-mobile ecosystem. The agenda features three SuperForums, BIA/Kelsey’s fast-paced, self-contained mega sessions, each focused on a single topic:

Day 1 SuperForum: Performance Media

Pay-per-call or pay-per-click has always been an attractive idea.  In theory, it cuts through the uncertainty and inefficiency of advertising. But it has never been quite that simple. In this SuperForum, you will catch up on the evolution of performance media and explore the most cutting-edge models for measuring calls, clicks and conversions. 

Day 2 SuperForum: The Social-Driven SMB

Are Facebook and Twitter great marketing vehicles for SMBs? What
are the best ways for SMBs to get engaged with social media? Is there a play
for publishers to help SMBs build and maintain a social presence for SMBs?
BIA/Kelsey’s Social Local Media advisory service will provide major insights as we drill down into the impact social media is having on SMB advertising.

Day 3 SuperForum: Customer Acquisition and Retention

Acquiring and retaining customers has never been more critical for
SMBs, and this is even more true for the local media companies selling products and services to SMBs – Yellow Pages publishers, SEM firms, social networking sites, ad networks and others. This special session will explore the latest thinking on acquiring and retaining SMB advertisers.

Additional session highlights include:

  • Mobile Ad Networks: The Stakes for SMBs
  • SMBs and Self-Serve: Ready for Prime Time?
  • SMB Perspectives on Daily Deals
  • Location-Based Services: SMB Initiatives
  • Local Display: Coming to an SMB Near You
  • Demos: Local iPad Apps — The Next Phase

When we asked Laughlin why companies and industry professionals should be attending the conference, he noted four major reasons:

  1. It is for companies that understand the need for new partnerships      and relationships to grow their businesses.
  2. It frames which questions they need to be asking (and solving) to      be leaders in this evolving advertising space
  3. This conference offers a detailed look at how innovative companies are approaching the small business opportunity. It’s a must attend for those who want to stay at the leading edge of industry transformation.
  4. Provides industry professionals with unique networking      opportunities to develop relationships that can go well beyond just    setting up a LinkedIn profile or Facebook page.  BIA/Kelsey events have always been known for their superior networking opportunities.  This event should be no different.

For more information about DMS ’11, including the complete agenda, list of speakers and companies attending, visit NOTE:  conference prices increase August 20th!  Conference participants should also consider booking their hotel room now! Special DMS ’11 room rate only available until Sept. 2

Free webinar this week

Because BIA/Kelsey believes that DMS ’11 will be of critical importance to companies involved in directory publishing, local search, coupons, group buying, newspapers, location-based services and social media, on Thursday, August 4th, the company will host a free conference preview webinar at 2 p.m. EDT / 11 a.m. PDT, titled, “The Hot Digital Advertising and Social Trends for Small-Business Advertisers.”  For more information and webinar registration, go to: