Monthly Archives: February 2013

Some fun with Yellow Page headings

Those of us who work in the Yellow Page industry would not usually put the words “fun” and “print yellow pages” in the same sentence.  But local newspaper columnist J. T. Knoll writing in the SouthEast Kansas Morning Sun effectively did just that today with his piece on “True Stories Found in the Yellow Pages”.

JT used the local Names & Numbers print directory in Pittsburg (which also includes his community of Frontenac) to marvel at some of the heading indicators listed at the top of each page, which resulted in some interesting combinations such as:

  • Advertising  – Air:  Don’t forget to breathe
  • Appliances – Asphalt:  For toasters and juicers  you can take on the road
  • Brake-Burglar:  Used along with an alarm; it slows the burglar’s escape so you can catch him as he runs away.

Do you have any other good top of page heading combinations in your book??

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Judgment Day for City of Seattle Opt-out Folly

Since the start of its October, 2010 efforts to implement a required opt-out program, despite the industry’s already established program, we have criticized the elected leaders of the city of Seattle –

  • November, 2010“ …this really isn’t an environmental move by the City of Seattle. Instead, it has become a clear attempt at cost shift and a political stepping stone for some Council members…”
  • July, 2011: “ …Lost in Seattle: Hello. Print Yellow Pages Aren’t Your Problem..”
  • August, 2011“Seattle Green Efforts Come Up Way Short”
  • October, 2012“..Take that Seattle. In a decision, which has been expected for some time, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals released a unanimous decision today which holds that under the First Amendment, Yellow Pages directories are “fully protected speech” and not “commercial speech.” The appeals court determined that print directories are entitled to the same standards under the First Amendment as newspapers, magazines, etc. Needless to say, this is a major win for the industry..”

Despite the obvious stupidity of this effort, the leaders keep on pushing this needless waste of taxpayer funds.  We’ll now The Seattle Times reports that the city has tentatively agreed to pay $500,000 to yellow-pages phone directory publishers in a settlement, rather than continuing the fight to appeal a ruling that the city violated the publishers’ free-speech rights,

Initially, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of the city’s position.  But a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit, generally a very left-leaning court, sided with the yellow-pages publishers, ruling that the phone books are protected, like other publications, by the First Amendment.

The Local Search Association has repeatedly fought that the city opt-out registry wasn’t necessary because the publishers and Association had their own fully functional opt-out systems. But, city leaders lead by City Councilmember Mike O’Brien insisted on forging ahead with an opt-out registry for “unwanted phone books” and charged a $100 fee on each of the three companies that distribute phone books in the city. It also charged the companies for every book delivered, levied a fine of $125 for deliveries to households that had opted out.  And, to add insult to injury, the law required the publishers to advertise the city’s opt-out service on the cover of the yellow pages.

A suit then filed by Local Search Association, the Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in October that phone directories are protected by the First Amendment and that Seattle’s law regulating distribution of the yellow-pages directories was unconstitutional.

Now judgment day has arrived for the city as they will now need to pay $500,000 of taxpayer money to the industry.  City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, still refuses to admit the futility of this effort and said he couldn’t comment on negotiations to settle the lawsuit because they were still ongoing. He said the settlement agreement could also decide “the future of Seattle’s yellow-pages opt-out system.”  Gee, you think so?

As you would expect some of the city’s finest are reacting online.  Here is one of the few blog comments I could print:  “..let’s SUE and FINE Yellow Pages for LITTERING. Shoot them on site for trespassing…”.  So much for the civility these same people preach to us about.

As we noted in October, 2010:

“…What a shame. It didn’t have to be this way. A working process was already up and running. But that wasn’t enough for the greenies. Someone in big business had to be punished no matter the costs or the impact to taxpayers…”

My only question is whether City Councilmember Mike O’Brien and the other 7 elected officials who voted for this effort (only one Councilmember voted against the ordinance) will now be held responsible for reaping the taxpayers.  Somehow, I doubt it.

Getting the sales call started

In Yellow Pages sales, it’s a super critical moment.  You’ve finally scored that face-to-face meeting with the decision maker at a potential new advertiser.  You’ve done your prep work and you’re ready to rock and roll.  But you are not really sure (comfortable) with how to best get the ball rolling, to get past the first few awkward moments of small talk and start building a business relationship.  You can feel that knot building in your stomach.

Some people can start up conversations with complete strangers with total ease.  It almost seems natural to them.  You’ve seen them at business meetings, cocktail hours, greeting new coworkers at lunch, or even with new customers.  They seem to have the gift of getting the conversation going seamlessly.

If you find yourself struggling to get these sales meetings rolling, here are eight possible tips to consider:

1. Take a deep breath:  As you start this process don’t lose sight of your overall objective – you just want to establish a repore with this person, one that can make the business part of the conversation flow much easier.  From the advertisers prospective, when was the last time anyone wanted to spend 15 minutes or more just hearing about them and their buisness??  Most likely that hasn’t even happened with their spouse.  You also want to get yourself comfortable and settled so you can do your job – identifying needs that this business has.  If you let them speak 80% of the time, then you will be considered as a courteous, trust worthy person. Given that most small business owners are busy people (or at least want to be perceived that way), they will make it very clear when they are ready to switch from chit-chat to business.

2.  Reframe the purpose of your visit (in your own mind):  and this may to go against all of your training — don’t make sales calls – make a service call.  If you take a step back, aren’t you really in the business of helping others be more successful in their businesses? When you call on a potential customer, is it any different from helping a neighbor with a project, visiting a friend in the hospital, or reaching out to help a family member struggling with a serious personal problem??  Net net isn’t it an opportunity to be of service?

3. Start by making the first move – Simply put, you take the initiativeExperts say it takes only three seconds to make a first impression.  That doesn’t leave you much time.  Get that hand out, put your best smile on, and start the greeting. When you make the first move, you create some energy and project yourself in a confident manner. It takes a little practice if you are uncomfortable doing it, and we’re not suggesting you over do this – you don’t want to be diving across the desk to tackle them.  With a little practice you will start the conversation stronger and it makes the early small talk a lot easier.

4. Find common ground fast… “Common ground” are those life intersection points we seek with people we meet for the first time. This is how we connect with people we do not know.  Current weather is an overly simplistic one and not a very unique one.  Topics could range from geography, education, hobbies, kids, colleges, sport teams or many others which can make up the general opening topics of conversation. My suggestion is you be quickly looking around in that decision makers office – what pictures do they have out, do they have their college football teams schedule up, an award they have received, something to help you get started.  The general rule of thumb is to then take no more than two good shots (three at most) at finding common ground in a conversation with someone. If you have nothing in common, ok, don’t feel bad about it. They know it too. Most likely they will want to just get down to business at that point.

5. Use Their Favorite Word — their name.  Studies show that a person’s favorite word is their own name (hey, it’s all about me). As soon as the prospect tells you his or her name, write it down and then use it at least three times during the call.

6. Have some core go-to questions ready – News flash:  people like to talk about themselves and especially their buisnesses. Questions are the way to activate that desire, but to truly create actual interest you will need a couple of interesting questions. Be clear that you are not looking for an opening to launch into a long sales monologue about yourself or your business (yet). You are trying to take a sincere interest in the other person. I encourage you to develop questions in these categories:

— Future predictions:  If they are sports fans, ask the person what they believe will happen in the next year for their favorite team.  2012 was a big year for politics, but I wouldn’t suggest you go there as there is at least a 50/50 chance they are on the other side of spectrum from you.  The point is to create dialogue, and speculation about the future can do just that.

— What’s changed: Ask the person what changes have occurred in the particular area of family, sports, business or some other topic over the past year. This creates a conversation rather than an interrogation with monosyllabic answers.  For example, kids grow quickly – that picture from the kids soccer game is probably a couple of years old.  Are they still playing?

— If you get pushed to business immediately, how did you find/meet your prospect? Did someone refer them?  Did you find out about them through a cold call or a network meeting? This is not an insignificant phase, so do not take it for granted. For example, if someone has referred the prospect to you, the prospect is more likely to have faith in you than if the prospect had never heard of you before.

7. Silence is ok – I’m sure you have a friend like my buddy Amy (not her real name) who feels the need to fill every silence of longer than 2-3 seconds. This gets her trapped into conversations that she would like to exit, but has to re-engage in to avoid awkward moments. Let the silence hang for a moment.

8. Chat for how long?  This is the toughest one to gauge.  I’ve seen people that want to get right to business and others that will want to chat for an hour.  The point is — be patient.  At some point they will turn to you and say “…what do you have?” That’s the cue to open up your binder/case/whatever and start the formal part of the sales conversation.

Good luck and good selling……

Search Starts Here – A Preview of the Upcoming Local Search Association Conference

It only comes once a year, and it’s about to happen again. The Local Search Association annual event – Search Starts Here: A Blueprint for Making Local Pay Off will be kicking off April 13-16 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.

This year’s event has a diverse agenda and speakers from across the pond and the search space to discuss current industry trends, lessons learned,  success stories, new technology applications, and useful innovations in the local search industry.

To get a better understanding of what to expect at this conference we sat down with Association president Neg Norton find out more.  The conversation occurred just after the Associations major legal victory against the City of Seattle’s distribution ordinance.

LSA2013Conference

YPT:  With the court victory in Seattle, will we see you doing a couple of big victory laps at the conference?

Norton:  I would but I don’t want to pull a hammy! There is no doubt that a lot of our efforts have been focused on legislative activities over the past year. Clearly, this was a big win for the industry. However, we need to keep doing what we’re doing, promoting the Opt-Out site, honoring consumer choice and ultimately getting the industry back on a path to growing again.  We plan to get into all of that at our upcoming conference. We’ve got a great agenda and some really top-notch speakers.

YPT:  We noticed your recent announcement about your keynote speaker. Tell us more.

Norton:  We were excited to announce that Jean-Pierre Remy, CEO and President of PagesJaunes Groupe will be our keynote speaker on opening day.  What’s exciting about this is that PagesJaunes is one of the greatest transformation stories across any media; newspaper, magazine, YP as they moved from print to digital media.

PagesJanunesGroupeFor those that may not know, PagesJaunes is the Yellow Pages publisher in France. Approximately 59% of their $1.5 billion in annual revenue comes from its digital offerings.  They also enjoy 45% margins. So Jean-Pierre Remy gets credit for having led this remarkable transformation from France’s traditional print publisher into one of the world’s most progressive local search companies.

For publishers in North America, Jean-Pierre can provide some insights on how to use their “cash cow” print products to help fund their digital development as the transformation continues. Generally, many companies are still trying to find the most effective and efficient way to market an array of products and services to local businesses with limited budgets.

Right before Jean-Pierre we have Paul Plant, Founder & Principal, of Radicle Consulting who has worked a lot with John Pierre’s team. Paul will comment on his work with PagesJaunes as well as a recent report published by the MIT Sloan School of Business/Cap Gemini Consulting titled “The Digital Advantage” that featured PagesJaunes.

 YPT:  Tell us more about the overall agenda

Norton:  The agenda has a good mix of strategic and tactical topics including discussions about transformation, sales effectiveness, what’s working in mobile, how print directories fit in the product mix, the Hispanic market and a lot more.

On Day 2, we just added Jason Finger, CEO of CityGrid and Dan Levy, Director, Small Business, at Facebook where he is responsible for sales, marketing, and service for the millions of small businesses who use Facebook to connect with their customers and grow their businesses.   He’s going to talk about the new Facebook’s “Nearby” feature that has captured a lot of press recently.  We expect he will share insight into some of the recent updates to Nearby as well as plans for future updates such as the addition of information from third-party services.

Facebook’s Nearby combines the social elements of Facebook with its geo-location services by allowing users to find local spots that friends have checked into or “liked” such as restaurants or other local stores and businesses. In addition to social information, users are provided with addresses, contact info and hours of operation for these local businesses. Facebook also goes a step further by tapping into the hugely successful online reviews space with features that allow users to rate and review local businesses and recommend them to friends.

Prior to Facebook, Dan started his own marketing business – Justarrive, and spent seven years at PayPal.

 YPT:  You really are pulling in some big digital players for speakers.

Norton:   It’s a good mix of key players across the local search space.  Greg Sterling is working with us on the agenda and he’s helped tremendously with the content and is also participating as a speaker.

YPT:  What are you expecting in the way of attendance at the event?

Norton:  Our internal goal is 500. We’re cautiously optimistic as we are actually ahead of pace in registrations from where we were in prior conferences, and we’re also doing well on sponsorships, but there are still several sponsorship positions available. It’s a great way for people to have their businesses featured at the event. People can call Terri Stabnick at 248.244.0743 or email her at terri.stabnick@localsearchassociation.org to find out more.

 YPT:  In a time of tight corporate travel budgets, why should people want to attend this event?

Norton:  We try to present an event that has strong content so people can come learn from others who are doing interesting, creative things. We also have a lot of opportunities for people to network, to get to know others in the industry better. And of course, it’s Vegas so there’s always an opportunity to have a little bit of fun.

 YPT:  Is there any discounted pricing for the conference still being offered?

Norton:  Yes.  If people register by February 13th they can receive the Early Bird rate, which is $200 off the full registration price.

 YPT:  Are you still planning to do the Strategic Exchange Sessions?

Norton:   Most definitely.  And if people sign up today for a Strategic Exchange Session (SES) sponsorship, they also get one full registration to the conference on the house! But they have to hurry. The sessions are where attendees can meet and discuss strategic opportunities with the industry’s key partners and suppliers.  We have sold out sponsorships for the sessions at our last couple of conferences.

Sunday’s agenda starts with our annual golf tournament, the Strategic Exchange Sessions, and in the evening the Industry Excellence Awards ceremony.  Just a reminder for your readers that the Industry Excellence Awards, which showcase the industry’s most creative marketing ideas, plans and communication tools, creativity, know-how and implementation compare to the competition are still open for submissions until February 8.   (For past winners, categories and more, click here!)

YPT:  What can we expect to be different this year?

Norton:  This year you might expect to see a lot of new faces in the crowd, people from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yelp, and other heavy hitters from the online space.  In addition, we plan to feature start-ups with new products/services during the Lightning Round session.  We started this last year and people really liked it!

YPT:  What can we expect to hear in your presentation?

Norton:  Good question. I’ll have to start thinking about this! Obviously, I am going to talk about the marketplace changes and how the LSA is evolving to ensure we continue to meet the needs of our members. We had a lot of success this year and we want to make sure we keep the momentum going we earned this year.

We are really looking forward to seeing everyone in Las Vegas at the Planet Hollywood Casino & Resort!

 

Natural disasters and Print Yellow Pages

No one ever uses the print yellow pages.  Everything is available online so print is a waste.  I haven’t looked at a print directory in years.

Do these comments sound familiar?  They are the kinds of comments you will see from print naysayers all across the internet.  Those of us who work in the industry and see the incredible results it brings for SMB’s day in, day out, know these comments aren’t true.  So how can we prove the negative Nellie’s wrong?  It only takes one of those life events, better known as a natural disaster.

Below we are posting the entire blog from Amy Rybczynski of the DAC Group.  She goes through several recent natural disasters including the most recent event known to us as Hurricane Sandy, a storm so powerful that many people are still struggling with its aftermath months later.

What did Ann uncover?  Calls to tracked ads jumped dramatically after one of these weather events occur as people scramble to rebuild, replace, and reestablish their lives, businesses, and communities.  As is the case in many storms like Sandy, cell towers were wiped out, power was lost, and the internet is just a memory from the past.  The bold lettering in the article has been added to draw your attention to the power of Yellow Pages in tough times like these.  Good job Amy.

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Superstorm Sandy Drove Yellow Pages Usage
Amy Rybczynski – Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Back in August I blogged about how our testing program for a waterproofing client gave us a clear view of the effectiveness of print Yellow Pages after Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee hit the East Coast and mid-Atlantic region late in the summer of 2011.

Calls to the advertiser’s tracked lines went through the roof in the months that followed the storms, registering in 220% more calls in September 2011 than in the previous September, despite the fact that we were tracking 25% less lines. Call counts stayed higher than usual for the months that followed, gradually coming back to average levels early in 2012. Undoubtedly there was a lot of residual cleanup to do after the storms passed through, lasting months after the initial impact, and our call data reflects that. And while we don’t have any proof of this, it’s not a stretch to assume that some of the later callers were among those that had suffered losses and recovered, then decided to take preventative action on their newly restored properties.

In late October 2012, many of the same areas were hit with another major storm, this time Superstorm Sandy. I was interested to see how our testing would look this time around, given that the worst damage was once again within our client’s main market area. At first glance, the results weren’t nearly as obvious as they were after Irene, but the damage this time around was concentrated more in New York, New Jersey, and Maryland, rather than being widespread across the advertiser’s entire market area.

However, when I dug down into regional data, it was apparent that the storm had an impact on call volumes to the advertiser’s test lines in the most affected areas. The rise began in late October, even before the storm hit, which could indicate that the advance warning of the storm provided by weather experts may have led to preventative maintenance calls. In fact, looking at data across all markets, calls started to rise on October 25th, four days before the storm hit, and remained high through November 8th.

In looking at individual regions, we can see that calls increased dramatically. In Maryland, there were twice as many calls per active test line in October than in September. The rate remained nearly steady for November as well. Calls for each month were just about double normal levels. New Jersey saw a similar jump, with double the calls and over 40% more calls per test line. Interestingly, New York didn’t see a rise until November, at which point they saw a 47% jump in calls and a 77% jump in calls per test line. The delay may be attributable to numerous power outages in the area and that it took a while for a lot of people to return to their homes. Based on what we saw in the aftermath of Irene, we can certainly assume that this jump in activity may continue well into December and beyond, as well.

The phone lines used in these tests were unique to print Yellow Pages directories, so we know that these calls were all the direct result of a print Yellow Pages reference. While we’re all well aware that our society is becoming increasingly reliant on technology, this call data shows that the print Yellow Pages are still very much in use, particularly when life events (or major superstorms) strike.

Amy Rybczynski, Marketing Research Analyst