Monthly Archives: November 2012

Who says Yellow Page publishers are dull, uncreative, and no fun??

One of the items pinging around the internet world these days is the hunt for Batman.  Really.

Turns out that American actor Adam West, best known for his lead role in the original Batman TV series on the ABC TV network and the initial Batman feature film from 1966 lives near Ketchum, Idaho.  Even at the ripe young age of 84, West is still well known for his voice work on animated series such as The Fairly OddParents and Family Guy.

An online blogger known as slapshotten11 also happens to live near West, and recently decided to look him up in the Names & Numbers Sun Valley Idaho phone book that covers the Kethcum area.  As he found, it wasn’t easy to track down the Batman:

The idea was the brain child of Ken Martin, a sales manager at Names & Numbers. We asked him to tell us more about how this little bit of fun came to be in the Sun Valley Names and Numbers Telephone Book:

“…About 20 years ago, I was skiing in my home town of Sun Valley, Idaho.  It was April and a beautiful day. I stopped for a mid-mountain break and snack at the historic Roundhouse Restaurant.  The deck at Roundhouse is a favorite place to enjoy the sunshine and views.  While there, I overheard the unmistakable voice of Adam West, a Sun Valley local.  He was having lunch at Roundhouse with his wife.  Adam’s voice is quite distinctive and reminded me of his character Batman from the Batman television series.  As per local Sun Valley etiquette, I let them enjoy their day without any intrusion and resumed skiing.

A few weeks later, we started sales for the Sun Valley Names & Numbers Telephone Book.  One night, I reminisced about my encounter with Adam West and thought it would be fun to put Batman in the telephone book.   I gave that a bit of thought and came up with an idea.

At the time, it was pretty easy for me to add a new “custom” yellow page heading.  I thought; let’s create a new heading for CRIMEFIGHTERS.  As I began to write up the appropriate paperwork, I thought I’ll make it more fun by creating a cross-reference to the white pages which led me to more creative thinking and including something about ‘Bruce Wayne – Millionaire’ and Adam West.  I wrote up an order with 4 different white and yellow page listings (as seen above).

Several months went by as we continued our sales in Sun Valley and I completely forgot about the Batman listing.  The book was delivered in November and I was having dinner with some friends at a local restaurant.  Our waitress knew that I did the phone book and told me how she went to look up the phone number of Tom West and came across the listing for Adam West and Batman.  She thought that was hysterical.  I thought, I hope we don’t get sued for trade name or copyright violation.

The next morning, I was in our office and the telephone rang.  It’s a small office and I could hear the receptionist’s conversation.  Our receptionist’s name answered the phone and I heard her say “Oh hi Batman, this is Robin…..  yes, he’s here,  would you like to speak with him?”  Robin informed me that Batman was on the phone and wanted to speak with me.

I took the call.  It was clearly Adam West’s voice who asked me if I was the person responsible for putting Batman in the telephone book.  I hesitated before responding, thinking again… what have I done and do I want to admit this.  I had to tell the truth and replied that indeed it was me.  Adam West responded that he thought it was great and that he really appreciated that we hadn’t listed his actual telephone number and asked if he could stop by to pick up some copies to send to his friends.

About a week later, on the front page of USA Today was the caption:  “Holy Run Around – in the local Sun Valley telephone directory, Batman is listed under CRIMEFIGHTERS in the yellow pages”  They then proceeded to provide the rest of the chain of listings.  The story also was on nationally syndicated radio as well as on the Tonight Show.

The listings have continued to appear ever since and is part of what sets the Names and Numbers Telephone Directory apart.….”

Who says Yellow Page publishers can’t be creative and have a little fun?   Perhaps more publishers should consider similar efforts as a way to bring some additional attention to the high quality print and online products they produce.  It certainly can’t hurt…

Advertisements

Now what do we do?? Lessons learned from Sandy

The images on the news following Hurricane Sandy of the suffering and living struggles people are going through in the New York/New Jersey area have been horrific to watch.  It brings back many memories of the aftermath of Katrina, but on a different scale.  I still have family in the area and many were without electric and heat for 9+ days.

What you will not hear as much about is the impact on businesses from this serious, destructive act of nature.  It has been estimated that more than 3 million businesses – large and small, schools, government agencies, and hospitals – are still affected to a point of being partially or completely shut down.  Even YP Talk was not immune as the serves that host our system are based in the northern New Jersey area and lost power for a couple of days.

Once again, it reminds all of us of the need for disaster recovery plans.  It’s easy to talk disaster recovery;  it’s a whole other thing to actually implement it.  And we’re not only talking about hurricanes, flooding, or blizzards:  recall the earthquakes of the early 1990s in California, the recent fires this summer in Colorado, record size tornados in the southeast (not the mid-west where it is expected), and the nuclear reactor issues in Japan. Sandy’s total economic damage from this super storm could be as high as $50 billion.

Back in September, 2005, post Katrina, we covered the need for every business to have a disaster recovery plan in place (link to full article).  In that article we suggested 5 general steps for implementing a plan.   What’s different now, some seven years after Katrina and that original YP Talk article (has it really been that long?), is that technology and communications are even more critical in today’s businesses and business operations. Sandy brought down a lot of the core infrastructure:  power, Internet, and even cellular communications were wiped out and in many areas, have still not been fully restored.

While we are not suggesting that we are disaster recovery experts at YP Talk, but the two key questions you should consider in your organization is:

  • How long can our business remain down with no data, no computer access, no internet, or no telephone/communication operations before we will have to shut down completely?
  • How much data can we afford to lose before our business will suffer irreparable damage going forward?

Obviously, the answers are different for every industry and business.  But here’s some food for thought:  according to the Insurance Information Institute, up to 40% of businesses fail after a disaster and only 43% of all businesses feel prepared to handle an emergency. Other statistics indicate that 61% of businesses that where without communication for seven days or more eventually shut down permanently within a year.   Further, a loss of more than 30 days of data is proven to be catastrophic to 78% of businesses.

As an extension to our earlier article list, here are a couple of things to consider for your disaster recovery plans:

Step back before going forward:  Have you determined your organizations vulnerabilities and capabilities?  Expect the unexpected.  And no plan is worth the paper it is printed on if you don’t test your plan often — practice does make perfect

Backup Power is Key:  Today, EVERYTHING requires power.  If you house your own systems, do you have redundancy plan that may even include being able to run on generators for up to three days without refueling?

 Location, location, location:  Is all of your key physical infrastructure in the basement or other susceptible location??  One harrowing story from an IT manager indicated that their building’s block-long basement was filled with water and it actually made it up about four feet into the lobby above.  Hence, no surprise that the damage to the building was enough that they couldn’t get into the building at all, and then didn’t have any power for five days.  But even then, all that infrastructure was lost.

Communications, Phone, and Email:  Maintaining communications with staff, with your customers is essential after a storm.  Many firms have employees in different parts of their operation that can work from anywhere as long as they have access to servers and technology. While cellular communication if often the default provider after a disaster, as Sandy showed us, it’s not totally infallible.  Have a Plan C.   Social or business networks such as Linkedin.com or Facebook can be extremely useful for group communications, news distribution to groups, and just staying in touch.

The cloud is available:  One thing that is different from the Katrina days is that a number of cloud-based services are now available to both backup data and help companies get operational again. Think about using a service that can provide needed back up and support during disaster events.

Risk Management and Insurance – Does your company carry business interruption insurance? Flood insurance is also good because most insurance policies do not cover “rising water” from floods. The government sells affordable flood insurance to many Americans, but you must buy a contract well before a storm is viable to have coverage in force. Companies such as: Met Life or Lincoln Financial as well as others provide this service.

As Sandy showed us, here in the twenty-first century, our businesses rely heavily on critical infrastructure – and it’s essential to have a workable business continuity plan and disaster recovery plan to keep your business going, because you never know what’s next…..

 

 

 

Why apples aren’t oranges

A new press release came out that had this nefarious title:  “2012 Waste Figures Affirm YellowPagesGoesGreen.org Stance Against Yellow Pages Paper Directories”

My first reaction was wow, can’t wait to see these stats.  But when you dive into the press release/article what you find instead is a lecture about recycling paper in general, with absolutely no Yellow Page specific data.

For example:

According to Greenwaste.com, each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 3.5 cubic yards of landfill, 17 thirty foot (pulp) trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 380 gallons of oil, and 4100 kwh of energy.

That’s nice to know, as well as “…DailyGreen.com reports that paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste, and one third of municipal landfill waste; Statspotting.com adds that paper waste accounts for up to 40% of total waste produced in the United States each year, which adds up to 71.6 million tons of paper waste per year in the United States alone…”

But note this is PAPER, not YELLOW PAGES.  It easy to see why they could be lumped together.  They are both fruits, right?  But, they are also different.  Did they just get it wrong then?  Not exactly.  See there is a little hidden motive involved here called money.

Back in July, 2011 we put a spotlight on the “YellowPagesGoesGreen” group and it’s not a pretty picture – simply put they want to rid the world of printed phonebooks so people will be forced to use their online directory product.  A little capitalism is fine, and as many bank robbers have noted on why they rob banks (“…it’s where the money is…”) it’s just that bogus misrepresentations like this are exactly why ADP has kicked of the “Power of Yellow” rally.

As we’ve noted, time and time and time again, the YP industry does not “harvest”, or farm, or cut trees for their paper. They don’t have to. They use all of the residual materials that come from the milling of trees for lumber and all of the PAPER items we do recycle (If you want to find out more go here: http://www.yptalk.com/archive.cfm?ID=322&CatID=3).

And we’re ok with a well-intended group scolding people a little:  “…many people are not pitching in to make the Earth a greener place to live, and the damage that is being done to our environment in the name of endless paper consumption is leaving our future as a race in doubt, unless we band together to do something about it now…”  Just please stop wrapping yourself with the green flag when your real motive is to game some revenue from the print Yellow Pages industry, a product that still gives an ROI of at least $10 for each $1 spent in an ad program, that is used by 75% of population during the year when they truly need a local product or service.

Now that’s the true Power of Yellow.

ADP Launches “Power of Yellow” Campaign to Fight A “Virus of Misperception”

In a packed meeting room on Friday in Chicago, the Association of Publishers rolled out a new multi-phase effort entitled the Power of Yellow™ , to increase the factual understanding of advertisers, consumers, and the press about the continuing value of print Yellow Pages, and to immunize the industry against the “virus of misperception” that it believes it threatening the industry today.

The genesis of the campaign comes from a desire on the part by independent publishers to initiate a “Got Milk”-grass roots style of campaign for the Yellow Pages industry.  Larry Angove, President of ADP, indicated that earlier efforts to work with the former Yellow Pages Publishers Association (YPPA) on a campaign were rebuffed.

This is the first coordinated industry marketing effort since the mid-90’s when the then named Yellow Pages Publishers Association (YPPA), tried a light bulb and the tagline in the “Get an idea”

Unable to achieve any significant traction with the new branding (traction that could be verified through higher sales) the “Get an Idea” campaign was abandoned two years later.

This new, multi-faceted program general first-phase components are being provided to all ADP members at no cost, and include templated adds that can used in a range of media

  • Phased Media Releases
  • Television Spots
  • Radio Spots
  • Print Media Ads
  • Newspaper Op-Ed Articles
  • Magazine Feature Articles
  • Directory Filler Ads
  • Sales Presentation Video
  • Coordinated Sales Collateral

Support for the effort also includes:

  • Placement Guidelines and Schedules
  • Offensive Talking Points
  • Defensive talking Points
  • Advertiser Testimonials
  • Data Source Documentation

A unique feature of this new program is the inclusion of four of the industry’s leading research experts to “star” in a series of 30-second television and 30-second radio spots proclaiming the Power of Yellow™ which publishers can then add their own product information to for local release.  Featured in the spots are:

  1. Dr. Dennis Fromholzer, President, CRM Associates
  2. David Goddard, EVP, IMS Local Search Authority
  3. Paul Gordon, Vice President & General Manager, Catalyst Paper USA
  4. Steve Sitton, President & CEO, Market Authority, Inc.

In presentations at the kickoff event, each of these industry experts noted key aspects of the factual arguments this effort will present:

Dr. Dennis Fromholzer:  “….the value of a lead from print yellow pages is 25X more valuable than a click to an online ad”

David Goddard:  “….people where saying print was dead 10 years ago.  We project the print/digital revenue mix will not reach 50/50 until 2018 at the earliest…”

Paul Gordon:  “…the reality is the industry isn’t knocking down trees solely to make paper for its products”

Steve Sitton:  “…print is not dying on schedule as many said it would.  Our research has found that the migration to digital is slowing.  That’s a very inconvenient truth”

At YP Talk, we have long advocated that the industry needs to begin to confront its many critics about print.  As far back as 2005, we made several calls to action (here, and here are just two examples).  As Goddard noted at the kickoff, if the Seattle and San Francisco opt-out ordinances had held up, they could have resulted in a $500+ million hit to the industry.   In June, we advocated that the industry reconsider the use of the iconic walking fingers in its local marketing efforts (June article here).  As a result, we are ecstatic to see this new initiative from ADP and will be supporting it fully as it rolls out.

As Sitton noted at the kickoff, it’s time to stop this “virus of misinformation”.  Amen.  But the industry needs your support.  Do we have it??