Print, online, or mobile — it’s still the most trusted source to find information fast….
Print, online, or mobile — it’s still the most trusted source to find information fast….
|It’s back and all new! Local Search Authority (aka David Goddard) has just released its latest edition of the industry’s premier market analysis and forecast report, Yellow Pages Market Forecast 2013.This annual report is always packed with all of the most current statistics and detail you need to build a successful plan for growth this year and beyond. It offers an in-depth, authoritative analysis of the entire U.S. yellow pages market, from utility publishers to independents. This study is the source for informed perspective on significant market developments and objective, accurate forecasts for industry growth. At YP Talk we frequently use the Forecast in our research to uncover the driving forces shaping the strength and direction of the overall industry and specific markets. This annual report has been published continuously since 1986.
This forecast comes from the desk of David Goddard who has been tracking the industry since it first started in the late 1800’s (ok, well, not that long, but at least for the last 20 years I have known him). He is also the author of The Goddard Report, a leading publication that concentrates on the unique interests and needs of companies involved in print and online directory operations. The Goddard Report is published continuously online, and 12 times per year (monthly) it is issued digitally as a PDF for download.
Who Needs the Yellow Pages Market Forecast?
YP Talk readers know that I don’t endorse just anyone. But the simple answer to the question of who needs this forecast is that the players in the industry are changing constantly. If you are a stakeholder of any type in the Yellow Pages/Local Search industry – publisher, CMR, investor, consultant, or even an industry supplier, you cannot afford to NOT own the Yellow Pages Market Forecast 2013. If you are serious about participating in the market this is the go-to source you need on your desktop.
Click here to find out more, to get your discount, and purchase the report: http://www.imslocalsearchauthority.com/2013marketforecast.php
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:
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..
The WordPress.com stats helpers have been kind of enough to prepare a 2012 annual report for this site. One of the most interesting stats for this site that we are very proud of — readers in 2012 came from 149 different countries which has to make YP Talk one of the most widely read sources for the Yellow Page industry, worldwide….
Here’s an excerpt from the annual report:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had over 35,000 unique views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 8 Film Festivals
Thank you to all of you for reading and commenting on the articles we have posted over the past year. We look forward to keeping you informed in 2013.
In sports, just as in business, the margin between success and failure can often be a very thin line.
Case in point: in this most recent Olympics the difference between first and last in the men’s 100 meters sprint came down to just .035 seconds. Essentially, little more than the blink of an eye. One more stride. A quicker start out of the blocks. anything could have substantially changed the outcome of that race.
After nearly 4 years of work for some of these athletes, the hours and hours of practice, weightlifting, dieting, and conditioning, all came down a preciously short total time spent in the actual preliminary events /qualifying races, and the final medal race/event. For example, the actual time spent by contestants in the men’s shot put, actually in competition, was less than 15 seconds. For the woman’s all around gymnastics’ event, less than 8 minutes (Go Gabby!). Certainly some events do have a longer actual participation time such as the men’s cycling road race which took just under seven hours. But overall, most of the sports in which gold medals have been handed out this week are usually culminated in less than 10 minutes. And this after years of preparation and work.
Many of these athletes also participate at a great personal cost to themselves and their families. The afore-mentioned Gabby Douglas’s mother, Natalie Hawkins, has apparently filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy recently, to reorganize the family’s finances and pay down debt accrued during her many years of training. Swimming star Brian Locke’s parents are also facing foreclosure issues on their home.
The takeaway from these athletes to the Yellow Pages industry, is that in sales, it appears that the margin between an outstanding, highly paid, top performing sales reps and those who are just average at best seems to come down to several simple things which may only take an investment of minutes each day: preparation , and planning their sales day. And then, they need to go through doors. Many doors, to find those sales and be successful.
The thing each of us needs to consider is what the impact would be if each of us made one more call, opened one more door, shared the Yellow Pages value story with one more small business owner each and every day. Imagine how many additional sales that would yield over the course of a month, a year, or if you’re truly Olympic, over four years. The results would be staggering.
Today make just one more call. One.
Yell/YellowBook has recently announced it will rebrand as “hibu”, (pending the approval of its shareholders in July) in an effort to be more identified as a service provider to SMBs that goes beyond just traditional print Yellow Pages. A study using 165 cases of company rebranding found that no matter whether a rebranding comes from a change in corporate strategy (e.g., M&A) or constitutes an actual marketing strategy (change the corporate reputation), the effort aims at enhancing, regaining, transferring, and/or repositioning the corporate brand equity.
Such a radical name change like this certainly raises the issue of whether Yellow Page publishers need new brands to attract (and retain) new users. Company rebranding is a tricky game – remember the “new” Coke? Some other recent examples include the company we all love to hate; cable-television and Internet conglomerate Comcast, a name synonymous with poor customer service and overcharging which in February 2010, began marketing its Internet video services under the new name, Xfinity, leaving customers to wonder what exactly the name meant. As a writer for Time magazine quipped, “Will the name change work? Probably not, but at least it’ll sound a bit edgier when you’re put on hold … with Xfinity.”
Another example would be The Gap. In October 2010, the clothing retailer Gap abandoned it’s long standing logo consisting of a blue box with “GAP” written in white inside, for a slightly altered new version described by Marka Hansen, Gap’s president for North America, as a “…journey to make Gap more relevant to our customers.” Apparently, the customers didn’t share his view, and following a tide wave of online criticism/outrage, the company did an about-face within a week.Unique company or product names, by themselves, may not have any actual meaing to begin with. But if backed by a strong, successful branding campaign, they can come to signify whatever the companies want them to mean. Case in point — AFLAC, a large international insurer but hardly a household name until the last few years, is now well recognized using a duck as a key spokesperson and promoter.
The success of any rebranding is more tied to the level of advertising needed to create an image around the name. “I don’t think the name of a company is hugely important in the long run,” suggests professor David Schmittlein. He adds that even fabricated names are “real names” in the sense that “they are pronounceable words. I think of them as largely empty vessels – reliable and durable empty vessels that can be filled up with positive associations.”
The Yellow Page industry is no different. This name change for Yell follows several recent publisher branding changes, made in order to separate the company from the “baggage” of the print Yellow Pages label as they pursue new digital products. Hence, we’ve seen names like Idearc, ZipLocal, LocalEdge, Sensis, Truvo, and Eniro.
A primary case study could be made the creation of Verizon Communications, which was formed in June, 2000, following the merger of Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp. The genesis of the unique company name came from the Latin word “veritas” meaning truth, combined with the word “horizon”, all to project something more forward-looking and visionary. The Verizon symbol was also selected because it uses the two letters of the Verizon logo that graphically portrayed speed. (Source)
In making this change, Verizon, beyond having a huge advertising budget to promote the change, had several other branding advantages working in its favor:
Yell/Hibu is certainly handicapped in the transition without these supporting efforts. The question for Yell/Hibu is whether its shift in branding, which accentuates its move to new digital products, can be accomplished in time. Yell has been undergoing a radical transformation since its leadership changed in 2011 with the retirement of John Condron. Current CEO Mike Pocock is trying to shift the business from just a directory publisher to a provider of a complete range of local advertising and e-marketing services.
With a nagging debt load which contributed to a GBP 1.4 billion loss for the year and prompted the company to retain Goldman Sachs and Greenhill to help it build a new capital structure, can the company amass a big enough budget to truly promote and implement the name change?
Ironic isn’t it though that the funding for this name change for Yell Group is actually coming from the very core print products they seemed to be in such a hurray to distance themselves from (print is 71.3% of Yell revenue, 78.1% for YellowBook – per the newly renamed Goddard Report).
Certainly, the future isn’t what it use to be….
Actually, those of you that know me, have probably already figured out that this is a leading, bogus title. Even if this is the latest, hottest, newest, most exciting thing from Wall Street, I seriously don’t think Facebook is going to make a dent in the local advertising. Why? Because there are already some serious clouds forming in its over-hyped empire.
Now don’t get me wrong – I enjoy some of the info sharing with widely dispersed friends and family that Facebook can bring. I just don’t see this as the local advertising nirvana that it is being made out to be by some.
By the time you are reading this, Facebook will have completed its initial IPO stock offering, and with a final price at $38 a share, it should raise about $18.4 zilllion (ok, billion), becoming the second-largest U.S. IPO ever. That’s a lot of cash no matter what you think of their business model.
Facebook is also one of the few profitable Internet companies to go public recently — it had net income of $205 million in the first three months of 2012, on revenue of $1.06 billion. In all of 2011, it earned $1 billion, up from $606 million a year earlier. That’s a far cry from 2007, when it posted a net loss of $138 million and revenue of just $153 million.
But at these kinds of valuation levels, the expectations will be huge. And as we know in the Yellow Page industry, everyone will be gunning to take a piece of their pie. Therein lies the rub. So let’s look at the cracks already appearing in their armor.
Problem, #1 – Expectations require results, big results
To meet these over inflated expectations, Facebook will need to cook up new streams of revenue that indicate a future beyond its current revenue model of just advertising. Last year, advertising represented 85% of Facebook’s revenue of $3.7 billion. At its IPO, Facebook will likely be valued at about 100 times its current profit, meaning it must fuel growth by somehow figuring out how to squeeze a lot more value out of its 900 million users.
For example, their latest revenue test came a week or so ago when the company began charging users in New Zealand as much as two New Zealand dollars ($1.53) a post to ensure that their own friends see what they write. The service, dubbed “Highlight”, seems contradictory to Facebook’s long-standing pledge, emblazoned on its home page, that the site is “free and always will be.” The service is similar to one for marketers, called “Reach Generator”, which Facebook introduced in February, for brands to pay per “fan” to reach those users 75% of the time with marketing messages. Naturally, some users have been puzzled by Facebook’s fee to make posts show up more often. Maybe they just need to add an asterisk to that free pledge.
A Facebook spokesman was quoted as saying that the company constantly tries new features. “This particular test is simply to gauge people’s interest in this method of sharing with their friends,” but declined to say how the experiment was going.
The problem is that Facebook already has a reputation of fast and furious product introductions that don’t always stick. For example, it abandoned a major 2007 initiative called “Beacon” that sent data from external websites to Facebook, and a 2011 effort at selling daily deals, similar to what Groupon offers.
Problem # 2 – The return on their advertising sucks
As I’m sure you heard, General Motors has announced it is withdrawing its advertising on Facebook because it just wasn’t seeing the results they expected. GM currently spends about $40M on its Facebook presence, with about $10M of that for advertising. But GM isn’t the only company to see weak results for its Facebook ads: Wordstream estimated that Facebook ads have an average click-through rate of just 0.051%. That’s barely half the 0.1% rate typically seen for Internet ads, and a small fraction of what Google has (0.4%). Moreover, analyst noted that Facebook’s 6.5% Q/Q revenue decline in seasonally weak Q1 compares unfavorably with the 1% increase posted by Google’s display ads for the same period, and that from a much larger base.
Problem #3 – Most advertisers have no idea how to use Facebook to their advantage
If you do a quick Google search you will see a whole rash of stories on this. Given the experience the Yellow Page industry has with SMB’s, where those marketing a range of products often see sales calls now running 2 to 3 hours, why would we think that these same SMBs would understand Facebook seamlessly? And the bigger question is that if they struggle with this newest, hottest of internet sites, what does that say about the future of social network advertising?
Problem #4 – Users don’t trust the site
One benefit of print Yellow Pages has always been its huge trust factor amongst consumers. For Facebook, a recent global survey by the digital marketing agency, Greenlight, revealed that a full 30% of people ‘strongly distrust’ Facebook with their personal data. Additionally 44% confirm they would ‘never’ click on Facebook sponsored ads, and 31% indicated they rarely click on them. That kind of distrust and lack of interest in Facebook as an advertising vehicle does not bode well for Facebook’s advertising programs.
We’ll have to see what the future holds but the early signals aren’t showing me any indication that Facebook is a platform to connect buyers and sellers. To communicate and share with others, yes. But to find local products and services? Not yet. Not even close.
At the recent Local Search Association conference, one of the most informative sessions came from a team of presenters – Robert Hawthorne from Hawthorne Executive Search, and Michael Taylor from BIA/Kelsey.
The two covered results of a recent survey of media sales reps and shared their observations from the field. Hawthorne’s presentation was particular insightful because he covered six common employment myths in the marketplace.
Robert Hawthorne is an excellent speaker for this topic. In 2011, Hawthorne Search’s team of 6 full time sales recruiters placed over 150 local market sales reps. In 2012 YTD, the company has placed over 50 sales reps in 22 cities. Their client list spans local search, technology, media companies focused on SMB’s.
Here are the marketplace myth’s he covered
Myth #1: overall unemployment rate parallel with local market sales reps
Myth #2: Reps are happy since my turnover is down
Myth #3: Base salaries haven’t increased due to economic conditions
Myth #4: Local search companies need only worry about other Yellow Page industry companies poaching
Myth #5: If I lose sales staff, it will be easy to find a replacement
Myth #6: Job ads on the boards will get me a replacement
In talking about the sales survey conducted, Hawthorne also covered “What Your Sales People Want”:
On finding sales talent, Hawthorne had a couple of simple, basic fundamental suggestions:
The last few weeks, and just this weekend, have seen the startup of a very unpleasant part of spring in the Midwest – dangerous tornadoes. These terrible natural disasters can be devastating to life, property and personal belongings. But they can also ruin an otherwise successful businesses.
Back in 2005, we wrote about disaster planning in this YP Talk article. Many of the comments we made at that time are still true. For example, in just the area of IT related disasters such as a major loss of business data, 43% of companies never reopen, 51% close within two years, and only 6% will survive long-term (source).
How much should you spend to develop and implement your plans? Estimates vary but by example, most large companies spend between 2% and 4% of their IT budget on disaster recovery planning, with the aim of avoiding larger losses in the event that the business cannot continue to function due to loss of IT infrastructure and data (source).
Disaster recovery is a broad topic covering more than just IT and data. Considerations need to include buildings, people, customers, financial, etc. Here is a partial list of events that could affect your company:
Given the human tendency to look more on the bright side, many business executives are subject to ignoring “disaster recovery” because disasters seem like such an unlikely event, and will never happen to their business. If you are in the camp, let me offer you one example of how naïve that thinking can be.
While I was working for a large publisher, our operations were based in the lower level of their secure data center, on its own security controlled property, with all of the latest innovations to prevent most disasters. I’m sure we thought we were totally safe. But then we arrived one morning to 5” of standing water in the lower level of our building from a blocked sewer connection just 50 yards outside the building property. Our phone systems were fried, anything on the floor (such as pc’s) was ruined, and we were displaced from the building for over a week while cleanup was done. And our plan ….. didn’t exist. It took months before things got back on track.
Here are some general steps we offered in our 2005 article that on developing a disaster recovery plan:
1) Determine the impact of being out of business for X amount of time.
In the middle of a major book campaigns, the answer to this question can be expressed in monetary terms: “We would lose $xxx,000 in sales/potential revenue in a day if our sales effort was stopped.” But you should also consider customers who won’t be served, print windows that may slip, customers already served that have now gone out of business, employees that are still hoping (expecting) to get paid, etc. etc. etc.
The purpose of this step is two fold. First, it provides you with a benchmark against which you can access the costs of varying levels of redundancy and backup (in some ways-not all-more protection means more money). Second, it will help position each part of the business within the context of the organization’s priorities (e.g., which function must get restored first).
2) Identify potential threats.
A disaster recovery plan, like an insurance policy, is most effective if all the risks and threats are realistically identified. While hurricanes and earthquakes do happen, most threats do not arrive in dramatic, news-making fashion. You will need to prepare for water damage (from broken pipes, backed up drains, failed condensation pumps, roof leaks, ground or flood water, discharging fire sprinklers or the fireman’s hose), fire and smoke damage, component and network failures, cable cuts, power losses from blackouts and brownouts, sabotage and lightning strikes. Given the integrated information world most mid to larger size company’s operate in, you will also need to identify how your systems will behave if a key component goes down-e.g., what happens to calls when/if a major telecom link fails at a remote site?
3) Take Preventative Measures.
As you identify potential threats and areas of vulnerability, preventative countermeasures will emerge. Hardware and networks are protected primarily through redundancy and diversity in equipment and services. Specific steps usually include subscribing to services from multiple carriers, deploying fire detection and suppression equipment, working with suppliers to identify critical system components you should keep on site, equipping your system for power backup and ensuring you have good wiring and adequate power line protection against lightning strikes and voltage surges.
Regular record keeping and off-site backup is critical to prevention. Key information and database files should be regularly backed up and stored both onsite and offsite.
Let’s not forget about your most valuable resource – your employees. Home and mobile contact numbers for key people should be collected. Do you have a plan if you need to totally relocate the whole operation (yep, moving the whole shebang to an alternative site)?.
4) Develop an Escalation Plan.
An effective escalation plan outlines appropriate responses to each potential disaster and specifies the thresholds at which they should be deployed. It should address the following:
The plan should be simple to understand, easy to follow and up to date. For example — plans and vendor references in the disaster impacted area should contact the ABC-based Disaster Recovery Team at 123-456-7890 or at http://www.<ourhomepage.com>/disaster-plan.
5) Practice and Update the Plan.
Your carefully constructed plan will be of no value if it sits on the shelf during a disaster. Reviewing and practicing recovery plans may be reminiscent of school days, but these drills are worth a lot more than nostalgia. Many disasters happen quickly and without warning. People have to know what to do! We just had our tornado shelter drill last week. When have you scheduled yours??
These are just some general thoughts. We’d like to hear what your company is doing in this area. Drop us a note at email@example.com.
Most local media advertising providers now use a single sales force to sell both their newer digital products and their traditional print advertising products. But according to a new report from Borrell Associates, that could be a shortsighted strategy. The company identified what it believes are major differences between companies that employ digital-only sales forces and those that instead employ a single sales (and content) force strategy which can do it all.
First, the Borrell study noted that an increasing number of companies are consolidating “offline” (let’s just call them “traditional” product sales) and online sales reps into a single unified team selling both types of products. The number of digital-only sales reps — those employed by traditional media companies (newspapers, radio and TV, but not Yellow Pages) has dropped from 60% in August of 2009 to 46%.
According to the report, online sites that do employ online-only account executives (AE’s) “outperform those without by a factor of 2.5” in terms of gross online revenue per sales rep. The difference is even more dramatic at TV stations – those TV stations that do employ online-only AE’s, do see them showing results which are three times the gross revenue of stations that don’t. Borrell’s bottom line conclusion: “(its) clear that having a staff dedicated to selling online advertising—and combining it with the efforts of the legacy media sales force—drives more digital revenues.” However, note that the research makes no mention of the impact on the traditional products sales of having some digital-only reps.
Borrell also looked at how local advertising media companies organizing their sales reps, and found that the most successful model tends to be “separate digital units with dotted lines”—companies, which employ both traditional and digital-only sellers, but also have a separate digital division responsible for hitting digital revenue goals and reporting to a separate manager. Borrell reports “…many of these operations saw revenue growth in the 40 to 60 percent range in 2011, while average market growth for local online advertising was 15 percent. The reason is no mystery: with a unit that has sole responsibility for just digital sales, goals and lines of responsibility don’t get tangled up in debates about the legacy media sales problems.”
Borrell is charging $995 for the full 27 page report.
I find some parts of the conclusions to be flawed analysis. First, logic will tell you that if an AE only sales one product (digital in this case), their percentage of sales will be higher then a salesperson who sells many products, with digital being just one of them. If they are truly providing a solution that meets the advertiser’s needs, sometimes it may not include digital products. Any responsible, good AE would respond to the buying needs of the client with a recommendation that provides the greatest ROI for the client, independent of the product set.
There have been numerous attempts in the past by Yellow Pages publishers to try a wide range of sales organization and product strategies – digital only, full suite, vertical market segment focused, etc., etc.
What’s your view? Which works best, and more importantly, why?