Tag Archives: small business

DMS 11: The Must Attend Industry Event of the Year

BIA/Kelsey is confirming speakers for its annual conference, Directional Media Strategies 2011, where discussions will focus on the small-business marketing solutions marketplace.  The conference will be held Sept. 20-22 in Denver.

This conference has evolved since it started back in the mid-1990’s.  The current DMS ’11 program will feature more than 50 senior executives from across the SMB marketing solutions landscape. Among the speakers headlining the event are Rita Fabi, head of market solutions, global customer marketing and
communications, Facebook; Joe Walsh, president and CEO, Yellowbook; Clare Hart, CEO, Infogroup; Tom Higley, CEO, Local Matters; Nir Lempert, CEO, Golden Pages; Ben Smith, founder, MerchantCircle; and Bill Dinan, president, Telmetrics.

We have all seen how small and medium-sized businesses are using an increasingly diverse, complex mix of traditional and digital marketing tools and technologies. For example, BIA/Kelsey’s most recent Local Commerce Monitor study showed a major jump in the average number of different media used by SMBs for local advertising and promotion — from 3.1  in 2009 to 4.6 in 2010.
Most of the change has come from the addition of digital media to their
traditional advertising programs.

“For today’s small businesses, marketing has gone beyond simply making the phone ring,” said DMS ’11 Conference Chairman Charles Laughlin, senior vice president and program director, BIA/Kelsey.  “SMB marketers now require a complex mix of products and services to drive leads, measure performance, manage customer relationships and engage customers.”

Laughlin indicated that DMS ’11 will bring together innovators and thought leaders to examine the components of modern SMB marketing and analyze where the biggest opportunities are for players in the local-social-mobile ecosystem. The agenda features three SuperForums, BIA/Kelsey’s fast-paced, self-contained mega sessions, each focused on a single topic:

Day 1 SuperForum: Performance Media

Pay-per-call or pay-per-click has always been an attractive idea.  In theory, it cuts through the uncertainty and inefficiency of advertising. But it has never been quite that simple. In this SuperForum, you will catch up on the evolution of performance media and explore the most cutting-edge models for measuring calls, clicks and conversions. 

Day 2 SuperForum: The Social-Driven SMB

Are Facebook and Twitter great marketing vehicles for SMBs? What
are the best ways for SMBs to get engaged with social media? Is there a play
for publishers to help SMBs build and maintain a social presence for SMBs?
BIA/Kelsey’s Social Local Media advisory service will provide major insights as we drill down into the impact social media is having on SMB advertising.

Day 3 SuperForum: Customer Acquisition and Retention

Acquiring and retaining customers has never been more critical for
SMBs, and this is even more true for the local media companies selling products and services to SMBs – Yellow Pages publishers, SEM firms, social networking sites, ad networks and others. This special session will explore the latest thinking on acquiring and retaining SMB advertisers.

Additional session highlights include:

  • Mobile Ad Networks: The Stakes for SMBs
  • SMBs and Self-Serve: Ready for Prime Time?
  • SMB Perspectives on Daily Deals
  • Location-Based Services: SMB Initiatives
  • Local Display: Coming to an SMB Near You
  • Demos: Local iPad Apps — The Next Phase

When we asked Laughlin why companies and industry professionals should be attending the conference, he noted four major reasons:

  1. It is for companies that understand the need for new partnerships      and relationships to grow their businesses.
  2. It frames which questions they need to be asking (and solving) to      be leaders in this evolving advertising space
  3. This conference offers a detailed look at how innovative companies are approaching the small business opportunity. It’s a must attend for those who want to stay at the leading edge of industry transformation.
  4. Provides industry professionals with unique networking      opportunities to develop relationships that can go well beyond just    setting up a LinkedIn profile or Facebook page.  BIA/Kelsey events have always been known for their superior networking opportunities.  This event should be no different.

For more information about DMS ’11, including the complete agenda, list of speakers and companies attending, visit www.biakelsey.com/DMS2011. NOTE:  conference prices increase August 20th!  Conference participants should also consider booking their hotel room now! Special DMS ’11 room rate only available until Sept. 2

Free webinar this week

Because BIA/Kelsey believes that DMS ’11 will be of critical importance to companies involved in directory publishing, local search, coupons, group buying, newspapers, location-based services and social media, on Thursday, August 4th, the company will host a free conference preview webinar at 2 p.m. EDT / 11 a.m. PDT, titled, “The Hot Digital Advertising and Social Trends for Small-Business Advertisers.”  For more information and webinar registration, go to: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/535703200.

Dex One Posts Q2 Results

Dex One (the publisher formerly known as R.H. Donnelley) reported Q2 sales that were down 13% YOY.  Results were in line with what most other major publishers have been showing.  With major products in big markets hard hit by the economy such as Las Vegas, Orlando, and Chicago, the results would seem to offer some hope that we are close to the bottom.

Steven M. Blondy, Executive Vice President and CFO of Dex One Corporation noted in the company press release that “…although our strict credit policies may have negatively impacted ad sales results, particularly as economic conditions deteriorated last year, the benefits of our strong receivables portfolio are clearly evident in recent write-off trends.”

Blondy also commented that “…ad sales trends in the second quarter were better than the first quarter, as selling conditions slowly recovered. We now expect full year 2010 ad sales to decline near or slightly below the bottom end of our previous guidance range.

On the more positive side the company increased guidance for both 2010 EBITDA and cash flow, mostly from the stricter credit policies which have reduced bad debt, and a continued “cost discipline”.

Of note is that no mention was made on the progress of the CEO search to replace “retired” former CEO Dave Swanson

Our Take:

There comes a point where you can only squeeze so much savings from cost controls to generate better bottom line results.  Eventually, the top line sales need to turn around to survive.  One way to grow the top line is to loosen credit policies.  But in this economy, that means a much higher bad debt, so it is really a double edge sword.

You don’t need public opinion polls or other fancy measurements to what’s going on in the economy.  The recent Yellow Page industry results are a direct indicator of how things are really doing on Main Street as it reflects the financial health and stability of small to midsized business in the US.  If this significant portion of the business sector is still struggling and fearful of spending money, it’s going to be reflected in lower advertising expenditures, plain and simple.

Despite all of the posturing and happy sunshine faces coming out the White House, it is clear the supposed economic stimulus has done nothing for the vast majority of small business or the economy in general.  These SMB’s are still having trouble getting credit.  They are holding on to their cash.  There are afraid to hire much if at all.  And hence they are going to carefully spend whatever advertising dollars they have.

Because Yellow Pages has a viable, trackable ROI, it should remain a primary advertising media for most small businesses.  Bundle in some online/IYP and mobile components and you have a very powerful, cost efficient media plan.  Businesses will see that if the industry continues to focus on the value it brings in its discussions with these businesses, and not just launch into Monty Hall let’s-make-a-deal type pricing that some publishers have gone to.  Then, maybe then, we’ll see that top line sales result start to turn the other way.