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Why print Yellow Pages STILL work…

A couple of weeks ago on a Saturday night, the USA Network had the network TV premier of “Skyfall”, the newest of the 23 James Bond movies.

skyfall

I am a BIG Bond film fan having been raised on films that took me to places I had never been, and featured a really dapper guy who was always in control, no matter what the danger was. As a teenager, I marveled at how he always seemed to know what to say, especially around the girls.

I can tell you this TV movie was a big event in our household that evening.

So why should my fascination with James Bond be important to you? Only because we watched that entire movie on network TV and never had to sit through a single commercial. Why — because we recorded it, and then zipped thru the commercials.

But I’m not unique. Research indicates that over 50% of television viewers always skip through the advertising using some type of DVR set-top box that permits time-shifting an event.

So was all that advertising around that movie wasted?? At least half of it was. Question is: do the advertisers who paid big money to be shown during that movie know which half?

I am often asked the same question about our print, online, and mobile Yellow Pages. The answer may surprise you.

I’ll give you a hint – it’s about something called “life-events” which create major shopping episodes involving things we usually have little experience with, but more often involving BIG $’s.

And no one fast forwards through these ads….

covers combo

Well, here’s the truth: Unlike the TV, the Internet, or even mobile devices, Yellow Pages are not necessarily used every day; it is not even used routinely. According to CRM Associates, about 90% of its usage is “episodic”, driven by those pesky life events and “out-of-the-ordinary” events in people’s lives.

These events create major shopping activity; involving things we consumers have little experience with (replacing a roof, finding an assisted living residence for an aging parent, replacing a water heater, finding dental specialist). These events tend to involve big $ expenses. CRM Associates says the typical average amount people spend when they use our print, online, or mobile Yellow Pages is about $730.

Most of the types of purchases that fit these activities are service-related. So it should be no surprise that 80% of Yellow Pages’ top headings are service related. The strength of Internet and mobile maybe on the retail side; but the strength of Yellow Pages is, and always has been, on the LOCAL service side.

For major service jobs, such as air conditioning, plumbing, roofing, health care, and even financial planning support, the ideal customer for these businesses is typically someone at least in their 40’s, most likely in their 50s, 60s, or even their 70s.

This demographic is critical to the success of most local service businesses – and will continue to be so for the next several decades. How do we know this? Consider:

  • Over 80% of the nation’s financial assets are held by households 50 and over.
  • 61% of the national’s discretionary income is made by those over 44, and this group accounts for almost two thirds of spending in Yellow Pages top heading categories.
  • The number of people in this age group will increase 40% over the next 10-15 years.
  • And, this group is set to inherit over $11 trillion from their parent’s generation

And surprise – these people are the heaviest users of print, online, and mobile Yellow Pages…..

People want and trust local service providers. And even with all of the technology available these days, consumers still see Yellow Pages as the most credible source for information about local service providers. These Yellow Page products:

  • Have never been hacked,
  • No one’s identity has ever been stolen,
  • They don’t fill your mail box with junk mail or direct mail flyers for things you don’t need at that time
  • No special Internet connection, power source, or technology is needed – just your fingers

Yellow Pages in print, online, and mobile formats are the ultimate local shopping resource.

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Small Pond at New Smyrna Beach Business Expo

Was a chilly day on Saturday, January 18th (well, chilly by central Florida standards) at the New Smyrna Beach Business Expo.  Small Pond had a booth at which we handed out over 2,000 copies of the newest New Smyrna Beach coupon book:

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The print directories are being printed and are expected to arrive the week of January 27th where distribution to the NSB, Edgewater, and Oak Hill areas will commence immediately.

Pablo knows: Lifetime of Smart Phones over 11X MORE Environmental Impact Than Lifetime of Phone Books.

Last February, as the industry was at the peak of fighting the anti-print eco nuts, we took a deep dive into what really goes into all of those high-tech devices we all now can’t live without, focusing on exactly what happens when people discard them (regularly) and move on to the next device.

In the Dirty Little Environmental Secrets Print Haters Don’t Want to Talk About article, we revealed some alarming stats:

But only about 14% of the computers components and materials can actually be recycled into usable materials. What’s in E waste?? Among the many hazardous materials harmful to human health and the environment are: lead, mercury, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, to name just a few (for more, go here). EPA numbers indicate that only about 18% of the 3,000,000 tons of used electronics in the US are actually recycled. Let’s compare that with EPA’s estimate that 57% of the paper consumed in the US was recovered for recycling in 2008.

The silence from our critics was deafening.  I never heard from any of them.  Not a one.

As we are in the midst of a heavy time for delivery of books, the din from the haters has again swelled. The new comers to the anti-phonebook team love to jump in with all kinds of pronouncements (most without any factual basis) that phonebooks are killing the planet in so many ways.  But its refreshing when you get to see something online who actually gets it right.

The treehugger.com website has a regular writer Pablo Paster, who actually did his homework recently in this blogAfter calculating the impact of an annual directory, he then compared the environmental impact to a digital alternative — the much treasured iPhone.  The conclusionthe carbon footprint is 3.1 kg CO2e per phone book.  Over a lifetime of phonebooks, that would come to 186 kg CO2. Using just an iPhone, it has 70 kg CO2 which adds up to 2.1 metric tonnes of CO2  over a lifetime of smart phones.  Net net:  “a lifetime of smart phones has over eleven times the impact of a lifetime of phone books.”

Pablo then tries to even the playing field with all of the other devices that an iPhone could replace.  But it starts to sound a bit weak especially if he had dug deeper on what the disposal impacts for an iPhone are vs. a phonebook.

All in all I have to congratulate the guy on doing an honest assessment.  It’s refreshing to see that someone will admit that all technology isn’t necessarily the slam dunk eco alternative to a phonebook that they are made out to be.  And don’t get me wrong, I love my iPhone.  But that print phonebook requires no ongoing power, no special routers, no Internet connection, is full portable, can be used easily by nearly 100% of the reading population, and is distributed FREE.  Sounds like a real bargain to me….

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, 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 a few 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??  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. Start by making the first move – Simply put, you take the initiativeGet 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.

3. 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 very unique one.  It could be 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.

4. Have some go-to questions ready – News flash:  people like to talk about themselves. 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 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 is going to be 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.  The point is to create dialogue, and speculation about the future does 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?

5. Silence is ok – I’m sure you have a friend like my buddy Amy 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.  

6. 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 conversation. 

 

Good luck and good selling……

YPA and ADM Merge

In a move that has been in the works for nearly a year, the Yellow Pages Association (YPA) and the Association of Directory Marketing (ADM) today announced that their Boards have given unanimous approval to merge the two organizations.  Both organizations have had members that spanned both print and online publishing companies, certified marketing representatives (CMRs), advertisers, and suppliers.  The merger proposal will now go to their memberships for a   vote.  Approval is expected.

In the official press release YPA President Neg Norton noted that “Our industry is amidst a dramatic and exciting transformation.  For 130 years, we have changed and adapted to advertiser and consumer trends.  Today, our members are evolving from single-product to multi-platform advertising companies that help local and national businesses generate relevant sales leads across print, digital, mobile, social and other mediums.  With the changes in our industry, it only makes sense for us to also transform the associations that represent them.”

On behalf of ADM members, Nancy Augustine, Senior Vice President, ADM also commented that “Our mutual interest is to serve the needs of our members and this combination will create substantial value for them.  Our impact will be greater working together.  The objectives of our organizations are aligned, and given the rapid change in local search, we can be much more effective operating as a single unit.”

Notice to YP Talk readers

As you may have already noticed, our site is down.

The story is that there was a fire in the office area adjacent to where the YP Talk servers are located.  The firefighters decided the cause was an electrical issue so the power was cut, and then they started watering everything down, including our hardware.

They are testing the machines pulled from the office to make sure they are functional.  Needless to say while we think the hardware was mostly unaffected and we are scrambling to reassembly them it in another location.

It’s probably going to be tomorrow morning before I have an update, so the earliest we will be back up is over the weekend.

Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause, but you can be assured we will be back up shortly, and this advertnture will lead to an article about protecting your key IT assets.

In the interim, please don’t hesitate to contact me at ken@yptalk.com should you need anything