Tag Archives: advertising

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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Are you helping your advertisers find “NEDICT”s??

Every small business wants to grow.  But how can they do that?  The simple answer is they need to target their advertising towards the “NEDICT”’s.

We once again asked Jacqui Cherven Bickel (yes, she has recently gotten married – Congrats Jacqui) of Genesis Publisher Services, a company that provides sales training and support services to a number of publishers, who these buyers that SMB’s should be directing their advertising programs to? She immediately educated us on the NEDICT factors:

“N” as in New Comers

Now matter how static you may perceive a small town to be, you would amazed at the changes they occur each year in that town.  Just compare the white page listings year to year and you will see the new people that have moved in to town, and unfortunately those that have moved on.

This is great news for an SMB’s – they need to be able to reach those 20-25% of new people in their community that don’t know them, haven’t heard about them, or don’t even know their business exists.  This crop of new comers is needed to replace those clients that every business will lose each year.  Does the businesses advertising message speak to these new people in their market??

New comers could also be those consumers who may be new to the need to the products and services offered by the SMB.  An example may be the first time homeowner.  If they’ve rented a home or an apartment or lived with parents up until the purchase of their first home, they’ve not likely needed the services of say a landscaper, a roofer, an air conditioning contractor or many other businesses.  Now that they have become homeowners, the need for such services will arise.

“E” as in Emergency

The most classical use noted for a print Yellow Pages is when that water pipe has burst, there’s water everywhere and a consumer needs someone NOW!  Let’s face it – emergencies happen.  It is called “life”.  And often they come up when we least expect them.

If a directory can contain upwards of 4,000 potential headings, there is no way a consumer/buyer can be an expert in all of those categories.  That’s way it’s critical that an advertisers program speaks to what they can do in the case of an emergency, or how they will satisfy that wide range of urgent needs that pop up.

“D” as in Dissatisfied

Can you name a bunch of businesses you have dealt with where you weren’t happy with their products or services, and vowed to never again do business with them?  That should an easy list to create.  But what happens when you need that product or service again?  The consumer/buyer needs to find another business to work with, thus, they go into the Yellow Pages without knowing who they’re going to call, only knowing who they AREN’T going to call!

“I” as in Infrequent

How often do you usually need to replace a roof, find an extended care facility for an elderly family member, find a veterinarian that has weekend or holiday office hours, replace a busted garage door, etc.. etc., etc.  For many of us, these are unique, often one-time events.  But when the need arises, where can I find the local SMB’s I need, and even get educated on what questions I should be asking??  Hint:  it’s not in the newspaper, on cable TV, or over the radio.

“C” as in Comparison

Even if I’m pretty happy with the business I have used in the past, human nature is to do at least some comparison shopping just to be sure I am getting the best deal and service available.  What better place to do that than in a Yellow Pages where all of the provider’s of those products or services are group together in that same heading for my easy viewing.  For example, your favorite, local, mom and pop hardware store — Ralphs Hardware, did you know they now have equipment rentals?  And how would I know that unless that put that information in their ad?

“T” as for Transient (as in traveler or tourist)

I’m sure each of you has a story about how sometime during your travels, you forgot something, your eyeglasses broke, you would really like to go to a sushi restaurant, or that you needed an office supplies store.  You don’t know the area, what businesses are there, or even where can I find them?

Another way to think about it – calculate the number of hotels in the area, add up all of the rooms they have, assume a 75% occupancy rate, and an average stay of 2 – 3 days, and the number of travelers you have in your market will astound you.  All of those travelers, will have needs in a place they aren’t familiar with.

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These are just some of the core buying needs that bring consumers to local SMB’s.  Which is why they need to make sure their advertising message speaks to each of them, in a comprehensive Yellow Pages program, in print, online, and mobile.

Are you helping your advertisers (or potential advertiser) be found for each of these buying needs?

 

Keeping the news in perspective…

I’m back from a week’s vacation and have a collection of news tidbits accrued during my travels that further highlight why this industry needs to take a step back and sort through all the recent noise about how Yellow Pages is really being viewed by consumers and small business owners.

The first data point actually has nothing to do directly with the Yellow Page industry, but in another way, does.  This comes from Hollywood — reports indicate that ticket sales at North American cinemas declined an estimated 3%, to $4.28 billion, for the period from the first full weekend in May to Labor Day, compared with the period a year earlier (source).  The culprit – it is the economy, stupid.  This recession/depression/high unemployment (or whatever you want to call it) economy continues to just drift along like a boat without a rudder or engine.  So while a lot of “experts” are pronouncing the end of the Yellow Page industry due to declining revenues, in reality many small business owners are still suffering and fighting through lower sales from prior years.  In the case of consumers, when incomes are down and unemployment is up, things like spending on going to the movies are one of the first casualties.  Yet I don’t see “experts” viewing that as a sign of the imminent collapse of the movie theatre business.  But somehow slow Yellow Page advertising sales in this down economy are consider the start of a death knee.  Really?

Data point two is a similar economy indicator and industry comparison point.  FedEx has just issued a profit warning due to weak global economy (source).  The company slashed its FQ1 EPS forecast to $1.37-$1.43 from an earlier estimate of $1.45-$1.60 and the current period could represent FedEx’s first quarterly decline since 2009.  In its comments, the company indicated that “…weakness in the global economy constrained revenue growth at FedEx Express more than expected in earlier guidance.” Once again, I don’t think any “expert” is viewing this dip in earnings as a signal of the demise of express mail services due to what FedEx said.  Simply put, the economy just plain sucks right now.  There are some bright spots out there, but overall the economic funk continues.

Data point three has two parts – the first is the realization that the value of Facebook has now dropped some $40 BILLION since its IPO.  Let’s combine that with the news that more bad news from digital “experts” darling Groupon where several of the  co-founders of CityDeal, the Samwer-backed European clone that was acquired by Groupon in 2010, have decided to depart the company.  These aren’t the first defections of senior management from the company.    The key question for this data point — if all of these new digital advertising media are such great deals for SMB’s, shouldn’t these flagship digital providers be raking in the cash, and not be looking like sinking ships listing badly to port?

Which brings me to the next data point – the continuance of bogus Yellow Pages billing.  Rarely does a week go by that I do not see at least one warning about bogus Yellow Page billings being sent to small business owners.  For example, here is one in San Francisco, and another in Amarillo just this past week.  What I find interesting about these schemes is that if SMB’s are so disenchanted with Yellow Pages advertising results, how could they be so naïve to then pay an incoming bill, just because it has a Yellow Pages logo of some type on it?  Despite what online and social media “experts” say, could it be that those old fashion print Yellow Pages still bring leads/business to their doors?

The answer to the last question is still a resounding “YES”.  Here is another recent study initiated by Haines Publishing, which found that 80% of residents in Ross and Pickaway Counties, Ohio use the print yellow pages first when looking for local business information (source).

When you add all of this up, it indicates that right now, this crappy economy is affecting all advertising.  And it also indicates that SMB’s should not give up their print Yellow Pages positions just for a less expensive (sometimes), sexier (perception vs. reality), new digital platform, especially without verifying that the new digital advertising effort is going to yield the same quality leads that print still generate.  Perhaps the solution lies not in a print OR digital discussion.  Instead, it should be a print AND digital solution for SMB’s.  Sure, get a nice website up, play with Twitter, Facebook, Groupon, or whatever.  However, don’t give up your core position in print Yellow Pages, not when we are seeing call tracking results up over 15% YOY.  Why would any SMB want to take the risk of losing any business in this current economic climate?

 

News U Can Use – January

These news items are brought to you by Kuk & Baldwin:

AUTO MARKET.     Sales and leases of all passenger vehicles, new and used, fell significantly between 2007 and 2009 – with new cars dropping 36% and used cars 14%.   The figures for 2010 are being compiled but are not expected to show any turnaround.   But in spite of the statistical decline in used car sales, there is now a strong demand for used cars.   One big reason is that people are keeping their cars longer.   Also, smaller, more fuel-efficient models less than 10 years old have increased in value, some 20% to near 30%.   All of this is good news for the repair business, since increases in value can better justify decisions to do major repairs rather than trade (Auto Body Repair News, 11/18/11).

2011-2012 COST/VALUE REPORT.     With the housing market still in the doldrums, the figures for cost recoupment of remodeling jobs are still lagging way behind their peaks in 2005.   For example, the highest recoupment within 2 years is now siding replacement with fiber-cement, at only 78%.   Other recoupment percentages include:  siding replacement (vinyl), 70%; roofing replacement, 58%; “minor” kitchen remodel up to $20,000, 72%; window replacements (vinyl), 69%; window replacements (wood), 66%; and bathroom remodels, 62%.   As you might expect, most of the highest recoupment projects are exterior and/or add curb appeal to make the property more saleable (Remodeling, 11/11).

THE FINAL PARTY.     The National Funeral Directors Association says that the US average cost of a complete funeral is now about $7800.   But new data from an AARP survey of people over 50 suggest that more people are deviating from tradition:  (1) only 23% have prepaid at least part of funeral expenses for themselves or someone else; (2) 34% have planned part of their own or someone else’s “final party”; and (3) 79% have done no comparison shopping for professional funeral services.   Indeed, as more people take matters into their own hands, the funeral services market will likely become more and more specialized and may require some ad targeting in the YP (Wall St. Journal, 10/31/11).

Find out how to be at the top of your sales performance by clicking on www.kukbaldwin.com.

Other recent media/advertising news:

Sorrell and Nadal Project Ad Growth in 2012
Though the U.S. economic outlook is still pretty grim, the prospect for ad spending is brighter for the coming year, according to leaders of WPP Group and MDC Partners. Martin Sorrell of WPP said his company’s figures for November were better than expected, and “we continue to see good momentum.” And MDC’s Miles Nadal said that in a low interest-rate environment, companies are concluding they’ll see a “superior rate of return” from spending on marketing. (Source)

Online Spending Growing & Almost Ready to Surpass Newspapers

Online spending rose from $15.1 billion to $19.5 billion from Nov. 1 to Dec. 4 compared with last year, according to comScore. But that may dip temporarily as “online retailers typically reduce their promotional activity as they attempt to restore their margins,” warns comScore’s Gian Fulgoni. Upper middle class earners led the early charge, possibly experiencing what Fulgoni called “austerity fatigue.”  (Source)

Add to that, this chilling reality: Newspaper advertising may be overtaken by online platforms as the leading spot for local ad dollars in 2013, according to a projection by Borrell Associates. Currently, digital accounts for 17.5% of local ad spending while newspapers hold 22.7%. But online growth of 20%, led by 66% growth in mobile ad spending, is expected to outpace the 5% growth across all media next year. (Source)

More newspaper horrors:  Gannett’s third-quarter results showed an uptick in nonpolitical TV ad revenues, a 27.5% gain in digital advertising revenues at TV station properties and a 26.7% gain in retransmission fees. On the print side, national advertising at USA TODAY and other Gannett properties dropped 17%. Overall, digital gained 10%, totaling $272.6 million for the quarter.  (Source)

Here Fido:  Americans continue to ramp up spending on pets
U.S. spending this year on pet products is expected to be a little more than $50 billion, per American Pet Products Association data, a record-setting figure for the industry. Meanwhile, Mintel predicts that spending in this sector will grow 33% over the next five years.  (Source)

For Digital Giants, It’s Been A Long Road to Revenue Land
Yellow Page publishers would do well to note this most recent article:  For both Google and Facebook, the road to significant revenue has been a long one along which the digital giants having to make numerous adjustments along the way. Common to both has been opportunities in catering to smaller local and niche businesses looking to target consumers based on interest and location. (Source)

Population Shift – Heading to the Cities
Almost all of the U.S. population growth between 2000 and 2010 was urban, according to an analysis of the latest census data. Marketers are responding to this trend by ramping up products and services aimed at city dwellers. For example, Ikea is putting more of a focus on furniture designed for small spaces, while some big-box retailers are scaling down their store size to fit city centers. (Source)

 

 

 

Surfing Web NOT The Same Thing as Buying Locally

Yellow Page publishers take note — a growing number of Americans are going online for fun, or to just kill time.

That’s not just my opinion, it’s the findings in a new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The survey talked with 2,260 U.S. adults from July to August. On a given day, more than half (53%) of those 18-29 year olds go online for no specific reason except to have fun, and 81% use the Internet as a diversion at least occasionally.

One of the perceptions vs. reality comments I often hear is that “young people” (that famous 19-35 year old age group) never use print yellow pages. Based on this confirming research, those comments are somewhat correct. But the fact remains it is not as if they are on exclusively going to the web to shop/buy either, at least not during the majority of the time they are playing around. The findings do point to the extent to which the Internet has become a competitor to other types of advertising media, since things such as “watching TV” and “listening to radio” can now be done online. For example, Americans watched a record 42.6 billion videos online in October (comScore data). And for those that follow the stock market, you may have noticed the new $1 billion IPO that Zynga filed on Friday for a company that is in the growing online social gaming segment.

More results from the survey show that 58% of American adults overall (and 74% of those online) go online for fun at least sometimes, up from 29% in 2000 and 40% in 2005. The shift toward more people going online for fun cuts across various demographic segments. For example, the proportion of whites, African Americans and Hispanics using the Internet as a diversion has increased between 25% and 28% for each in the last decade. In terms of gender, the share of men and women doing so has roughly doubled to 62% and 54%, respectively. Similarly, large jumps were seen across varying education and income levels.

The main point being that just because “everyone” is online/using mobile apps, doesn’t necessarily correlate that all of their buying activating is constrained to those media, or even in using those media exclusively for their shopping/buying information.

Given that reading a print Yellow Pages has never been confused with “having fun” or “killing time”, the ROI that a local advertiser can expect from their Yellow Pages advertising program is still solid…

Business left out of Yellow Pages says they could lose $1 million in business

Let me see if I have this story out of Canada correct:

a Wayne Keenan of Keenan Concrete Services, who’s business was spending “…$2000-$3000 in that sort of advertising…” and admitted he wanted to pull out of the Yellow Pages, is now complaining that because his business isn’t listed in it, he believes “the error” has the potential to cost his business $1 million.

As noted in the article:

But their stuff-up <error> means we haven’t had a business-related phone call for about two months.

Three simple observations:

1) If you listen to its critics, I thought no one used the print Yellow Pages anymore, except for only decrepit, non-hip, 90 year old seniors who don’t have (or get) the latest technologies???

2) This business owner was going to pull his ads anyway, so now he’s surprised he’s not getting any business calls.  How did he think people were going to find him??

3) If print Yellow Pages is such a bad advertising choice for small businesses, why wouldn’t some super-duper Internet advertising, website, or social network program more than cover his needs??

Maybe the perceptions about print Yellow Pages and digital advertising are a little off…

“Unwanted pests”???

Many of you are aware that a new zealotry being promoted on the web – print Yellow Pages are the cause for all of mankind’s ills, they suck up resources, are wasteful, they pollute, forests are being ransacked for paper, the books are never being used, they only being used by your 90 year grandmothers, etc., etc., etc., and now, per the label of the picture of this blog discussing more useless regulation being introduced in Seattle – the books are now “un-wanted pests”.

If there is any value in this truly wasteful legislation effort (glad to see phone books are the only thing the citizens of Seattle needed be concerned with), it has been the reaction from many of you in the industry.  I think these paper atheists have awakened a sleeping giant.

Case in point – here is commentary I received from Wayne Mulling, the Director of Sales at the Sunshine Pages Directories.  I know many of you also feel this way.  Isn’t it time to start telling the other side of the story in every community we serve and stop turning the other cheek to these people??

Here’s Wayne’s comments:

I love the part where they call the industry products “un-wanted pests”. Really?  We are now Un-wanted pests?  It’s amazing to me some of the comments from people who post to blogs like this, comments like:  “I hope this sweeps the nation”, and “good riddance”.

This from people who don’t have a clue on how much directory companies contribute to the nation and the communities they serve at large.  For over 150 years phone books have been the prime source for businesses to promote the products and advertise their wares, to grow their businesses, all resulting in revenue growth to the economy, jobs created, some competition stirred, and community growth.  It is that old fashioned, low tech, ugly Yellow Pages that has been primarily responsible for this, more than any other type of media.

Who are these people who are so opposed to have a “one stop shop source” of vital information?  Who are these kooks who hate businesses that advertise in the books, yet then when they need those tires, or hot water heaters, or kitchen remodelers, or carpet layers, or TV repairmen, or Appliance repairmen, or roofers…….they need a place to FIND them?  Gee, guess which media has all of that in one place, and you don’t need to look at 1.5 million websites to find it either.

Who are these nuts that hate free commerce?  I will guarantee you that most of them have never owned a business, tried to help their fellow neighbor, or even supported anything which would help the economy, because if they had then they would not be opposed to having a one source of information that is at their fingertips 24 hours a day which doesn’t require any special connections, fees or signups, doesn’t require an electric or mobile connection, and can realistically HELP them in their time of need for LOCAL products and services at a moment’s notice!

Why is our “One stop source of vital commerce information” now an un-wanted pest?   Are the 40 commercials that everyone has to wade thru on that same blog or a TV show an “Unwanted pest?”  Then why not ban all commercials!  People with half a brain know that it is those business commercials support the very existence of the Internet and cable TV allowing them to be available at reasonable rates, and keeps them informed about products and services available.

Why is our “One stop link connecting Buyers and Sellers” an un-wanted pest?  Why don’t they also call the 50 commercials an hour that you hear on the average radio station an “unwanted pest”?  Because anyone who was not born on the dark side of the moon knows that it is marketing, advertising, and free commerce that built this great country.  It allows radio stations to hire people who can provide a living for their families, to invest in business  which support communities such as New Orleans where we are, and keep the cost of radio FREE so that anyone that wants to can turn on a radio station 24 hours a day.  And it doesn’t cost you a dime!  What keeps it free?   Advertising!

I will guarantee you that the gentleman (and I use the term loosely) that is sponsoring this bill, has probably never run a business before going into politics, has never had to go to sleep at night worrying about how to keep his business viable, how he’s going keep the people he has employed (whose families look to that job for a living), or any of the other 1000 concerns small business owners have – which includes how do I best promote my business.  Because if he had ever run a business larger than a lemonade stand, he would know that it is ADVERTISING that keeps America growing, moving, and prospering.

Instead, people like this just love to cause chaos, and then are somehow never around to clean up the mess when everyone realizes they have made a mistake.