Just got back from the Local Search Association annual conference, and once again I heard a lot suggesting/pleading/begging from various speakers that the industry really needs to think differently, act differently, and most importantly collaborate better.
In the 25+ years I have been in the industry, the one thing you can be guaranteed to hear at an industry conference is that the industry needs to work together. Conceptually, everyone agrees that all boats will rise if the overall industry can grow. But usually within 10 minutes of arriving back in the home office, the issues of the moment take over and that whole collaboration thing gets filed away for another year. Perhaps now more so than in the past, we can’t let that happen.
I don’t think anyone would disagree that today the industry faces massive change both internally and from forces external to the industry. It wasn’t very long ago that there were usually three, four, five or more print directories in a market and that was it. Then about ten or so years ago, this “digital” thing started, and toss in a prolonged business slowdown (some would even call it a recession), and small business owners/marketers have had to change their attitudes and philosophies about promoting their businesses to often just keep their lights on, and maybe even pray they could grow a little.
Industry collaborations are possible, and can be very successful. For example, remember the “got milk” campaign? Often hailed as one of the most successful ad campaigns in marketing history, got milk? was launched in 1993 when fluid milk processors in California agreed to allocate $.03 of each gallon sold to fund an overall promotion effort. The campaign was licensed nationally in 1995 for use in print ads featuring celebrities with “milk mustaches.”
The program still continues to this day with an interactive website promoting various health benefits. The campaign is managed by the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board, which has an approximate annual budget of $110 million.
Another example is the “Pork: The Other White Meat” effort from the National Pork Board. This original campaign, which is often cited as one of the most memorable campaigns of all time, was intended to promoted pork as a healthy meat option. Realistically, as the National Pork Board acknowledged it was really an effort to stem the steady decline in pork sales.
The original $7 million budget in 1987 contrasted to the $30 million spent primarily on network television ads for the “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” campaign from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the $112 million spent on ads for branded chickens. Using this program promoting pork as a lean meat to more health-conscious consumers, pork sales in the United States rose 20%, reaching $30 billion annually by 1991
This year the Pork Board is launching its new $11 million Pork: Be Inspired campaign, which aims to increase sales by targeting customers who already eat pork.
So there are examples where industry players, competitors in effect, have banded together to promote their overall value, and as a result everyone in the industry saw higher sales.
Which brings us back to our beloved Yellow Pages industry, and to you the readers of this newsletter. The topic for discussion is simply:
- How can the industry work together? Now, not a year from now, but right now, to show the outstanding value we bring to advertisers??
- What steps are needed??
- Who needs to get together in a room to start to make this happen??
We want you views and suggestions, and if you’re worried about your company not being pleased to see your name (or the company’s) in the comments, we’ll block them out and change names. But the clock is ticking…
Send me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org..