Archive for February, 2009

Take a Minute to Verify Online Search Results

Friday, February 27, 2009

There’s no question that more people are going online to find local businesses. But when I ran across this story about a fraudulent locksmith listing in Raleigh, I was reminded that online local search is still somewhat of a work in progress.

To help on this front, we’re partnering with Google, Yahoo! and other local search providers to feed our data into these sites. Since we work directly with businesses through our local sales teams, we can help ensure that listings are verified and accurate, and boost the quality of data available on the local search portals.

I’d encourage consumers taking advantage of online search tools to use some caution though, just as you would with any kind of information you find online. Take a few minutes to verify what you find. One way to do that is to use the print or Internet Yellow Pages as a cross-reference. Or you can call directory assistance to ensure the business is listed.

Businesses Drive Office Supply Spike in March

Thursday, February 26, 2009

According to Scott Cullen, editorial director of Office Solutions magazine, small businesses put supply needs on the back burner at the end of each year and through the beginning of the next.

By March, small businesses are getting organized and ramping up for the rest of the year, and supply needs are finally handled.  That’s when we see usage of the “Office Supplies” heading jump.

Most often, those handling the supply needs are 25-49 year-old college graduates with household incomes greater than $60,000, which Cullen says is consistent with the demographics of most small to mid-size businesses. The heading is usually referenced for paper supplies, computer equipment, and parts for other office equipment.

Additionally, the heading is also referenced for office supply services, such as local business card printing and copy services.

Cullen suggests that if you’ve been laid off recently, the businesses listed in this heading can help you get a unique competitive advantage in the current job market through business card and resume printing.

If you own a local office supply store, this heading can help you get more bang for your buck: the average ROI received from local display ads at the office supplies heading is over $6 of sales revenue and $2 profit for every $1 spent on advertising. That’s less cost per customer than any other advertising medium.

Here are some more helpful Yellow Pages data points that will pump up your advertising reach:

  • 91 percent of “Office Supplies” headings users are ready to buy.
  • 65 percent of usage is for business purposes.
  • Print headings users visit office supply stores 20% more frequently than the average customer.
  • This heading is referenced nearly 29 million times annually.
  • 67 percent of users with one name in mind still review about 3.6 other ads, on average.

Dex Knows

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A recent announcement from R.H Donnelley Interactive heralds the next step in online search – “Hyperlocal” search or a unique method for the consumer to find what they’re looking for in a more intuitive way.

DexKnows.com allows consumer to:

  • Search by specific neighborhoods or landmarks.
  • Search by descriptive phrase.
  • View results that accurately reflect both business location and local service areas.

Read what Brian Barnum, president, R.H. Donnelley Interactive has to say about the new service and to experience the updated site go to http://www.dexknows.com.

Members who have visited the site tell us they find the new search tools more flexible and easier to use. We believe that this is just one of the innovations we’ll be seeing over the next few months in the Yellow Pages search space.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

With all the turmoil in the economy and challenges in the Yellow Pages industry, it may not seem like the best time to take a few days out of the office and head to San Diego for the 2009 Yellow Pages Association Conference and Exhibition on April 26-28, 2009.

Sure, you could probably use the time to figure out how to squeeze a few more dollars out of your beleaguered budget, contemplate your 401K as it roller coasters up and down or buff up the old resume. Or maybe make one more attempt to come up with that killer idea that will save your piece of the world.

Or … you could take a much needed time-out and really put your budget dollars to work for you. Spend some time listening to one of the most innovative thinkers of the 21st century — Malcolm Gladwell, long-time New York Times bestselling author of “Blink,” “Outliers” and “Tipping Point.”

Or … listen to a group of engaging national advertisers talk about their marketing plans — search, mobile, print and more — what works and what doesn’t.

Or … play some golf and snag a potential client.

Or … learn more about how blogging is changing the way information makes the rounds from the Internet to the front pages of the Wall Street Journal from Greg Sterling (Screenwerk) and Sebastien Provencher (Praized).

Or … relax (come on, you know you need to) in sunny San Diego for a few hours — the San Diego Zoo, sushi, art galleries, nightclubs, shopping, the harbor and the ocean.

Or … get an update on the environmental issues facing the industry, the financial challenges facing our members, the best way to recruit new talent, the innovative products at the Exhibit Hall — ideas to solve all kinds of business problems.

See what I mean? The Conference is an opportunity to change-up your schedule, sharpen up your networking skills and enjoy the cool sea breezes while making important connections. Here’s a list of just a few of the movers and shakers attending the meeting.

It’s just like advertising, sometimes a small investment of time and money during a difficult period can change everything. So get registered, reserve your hotel room, pull out your Smart Phone and start making appointments for breakfast with a client, coffee with a mentor, drinks by the marina to catch up with colleagues and get back in the game.

You should definitely go!

Yellow Pages Association
Conference and Exhibition
Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina
April 26-28, 2009
Be there or miss out!

ROI, Reach and Relationships Are Nothing New for Yellow Pages

Friday, February 20, 2009

Emily Steel talks this week about the slowing of the red-hot online local advertising sector, and I believe, validates what Yellow Pages companies have done to succeed in this tough environment.

Facing the challenges of recession, advertisers are demanding visible ROI. That’s where we come in.

First, our deep reach and long relationships make us the true local partner. Although there are some interesting new models out there, there are not many that are more local or targeted than Internet Yellow Pages sites. The measurement tools being used by these new players were developed by our industry, and we’ve had the benefit of time and experience to evolve these metrics so advertisers get the insights they need to generate sales.

Beyond that, our sales forces were trained years ago to sell online ads and search engine marketing. They work one-on-one with businesses to cut through the complexity of online marketing. In the last two years, this well-versed and increasingly tech savvy sales channel has helped us stay ahead of the curve on mobile solutions. The click to call technology is in place and we’re using it for advertisers.

Those sales teams are the key to our success. No other players mentioned in the Journal article have the kind of access that we do to business owners. Some are trying to build it, but it would take years and significant capital to get where we are today.

Plus, when the start-up online advertising providers call a local business, they have a hard sell in front of them. On the other hand, our teams have worked for years to build personal relationships with businesses. When we call, they pick up the phone.

Bottom line – the new and refined go-to-market methods cited in the article by recent market entrants may not be so new after all. Interesting.

I asked Greg Sterling, who is quoted in the article, what he thought about the Yellow Pages’ position in local online advertising this year. Here’s what he thought:

“Yellow pages publishers are still the best situated among all local media providers in terms of their ability to reach small businesses. They’re in the midst of an evolution of their business and products in this time of economic upheaval affecting all media. And while success isn’t guaranteed, they are well positioned to be the ‘go to’ sources for a range of advertising types for small businesses.”

62% of Small Businesses Don’t Have Marketing Help

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In a survey, conducted for the Yellow Pages Association by Issues and Answers, 400 small business owners shared what’s keeping them awake nights. Some interesting, but perhaps not surprising, items include:

  • More than half (53%) said that generating new customers is their toughest marketing challenge.
  • 44% of small business owners measure the success of their marketing program by ROI.
  • 33% perceive the most effective marketing mix to be print advertising, 20% use a combination of print and online while 19% use another marketing mix they believe is most effective for their business.

That positions our Yellow Pages sales teams to be the “on deck” consultant for thousands of small businesses.

And recently, I had the pleasure of discussing this survey and other topics with Jim Blasingame, creator and award-winning host of the “Small Business Advocate Show,” the world’s only weekday talk show dedicated to small business. Jim’s show reaches over 400,000 listeners in more than 40 U.S. markets.

I recommend you spend some time on Jim’s site, it’s full of information supporting small businesses and Jim (as you can hear on the interview) is a strong believer in the Yellow Pages.

Hyperlocal Is Happening

Monday, February 16, 2009

If you haven’t seen today’s piece on Search Engine Land, I dove deeper into the Forrester Research that I blogged about earlier this month. As I noted in those pieces, the trend of hyperlocal news is sweeping the media industry. Newspapers such as the Rocky Mountain News and Chicago Tribune have led the shift to an intensely localized focus of area neighborhood news, and last month the Dallas Morning News rolled out 61 community websites.

Yellow Pages providers are taking a similar approach at becoming more targeted and localized with their searches. A good example is R.H. Donnelly’s new DexKnows IYP platform.

To learn more about what DexKnows now can do, read my piece at Search Engine Land.

Advertising in Recession: What Can Stay, and What Can Go

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Small business confidence is falling, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.  As confidence falls, small business owners are going to try to increase sales, cut costs or both to survive the recession.

It’s normally easier to cut costs than to increase sales — at least in the short run. And one of the first costs to be cut is often advertising.

But advertising is a major driver of sales revenue. The key is to determine which types of advertising are best for the business. That means finding ad vehicles that bring in buyers at a reasonable return on investment. Cut the rest.

The media that excel in this area are direct mail, Internet and Yellow Pages.  (“Impressions” don’t count for much anymore.  Today its about reaching the “ready-to-buy” consumer.)

The advantage for Yellow Pages is that print directories and Internet Yellow Pages reach buyers who are looking for sellers at the precise moment they need to purchase a product or service.

Also, results can be measured through call/click tracking so that the advertiser can determine the exact amount of return on investment delivered by each vehicle.

A few stats:  Local display advertisers in the Yellow Pages have historically received $12-$14 in sales back for every $1 invested. In addition, 40% of Yellow Pages users are new customers to the business they choose.

So if you’re working on a small business ad strategy, think about which media will reach those active consumers.  They’re still out there, and a good number of them are turning to Yellow Pages.

Melding of Technologies Makes for Great Local Search

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My wife and I are remodeling our bathroom. This is a major undertaking that has spawned some “spirited” discussions.

We needed to purchase some mirrors and some light fixtures so I tirelessly searched the Web to get some ideas about what types of products existed and some ideas about price points.

My wife, on the other hand, picks up the Yellow Pages and finds a mirror shop that she says we should go visit. There weren’t many ads under that heading even though it receives 1.7 million annual references, but she found a place that she thought looked good.

We get in the car, me with my GPS and her with the Yellow Pages and we find the store. She is delighted with the suggestions made by the sales woman and even tells her that she is “happy now.”

We get back in the car and I say “let’s go look for light fixtures as long as we are already out.” This was a more developed heading that gets 7.4 million annual references. She looks in the Yellow Pages for a store, I program the GPS and we are off.

Altogether, a very efficient and rewarding shopping experience utilizing the Internet, Yellow Pages and the GPS. More importantly, this is not an uncommon way to conduct a local shopping trip when you haven’t been to the place of business before. After all, about three quarters of people who use the Internet use the print Yellow pages.

Roll Out the Carpet for Yellow

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It’s awards season, so everyone’s talking about the red carpet. Well, we’re thinking about yellow, and how it can help your small business: usage of the Yellow Pages “Carpet/Rug Dealers” heading peaks in February.

The heading receives about 43 million references per year, but usage jumps in February, especially among 35-64 year-old women with postgraduate degrees and an income of over $40,000. Most have lived in the same home for 5-10 years and are looking to replace worn out carpet.

Chris Davis, president and CEO of the World Floor Covering Association, says that these consumers are prepared, know exactly what they want and where to buy it: from a local dealer.

Eighty-one percent of customers who used this heading to make a purchase bought from a local carpet dealer. That makes for a pretty impressive ROI: local display ads at the “Carpet/Rug Dealers” heading generate $45 of sales revenue for every $1 spent on advertising.

If you are an independent carpet dealer or have carpet retailers as clients, keep these tips in your back pocket for advertising:

  • 58 percent of buyers are female.
  • Usage is highest in the Northeast census region.
  • 63 percent of users have a decision to make when referencing the Yellow Pages. 93 percent follow up with a purchase.
  • Headings users are new to the dealer in 50 percent of purchases.
  • The market for carpets and rugs is projected to rise 1.6 percent per year through 2009 to more than 65% of the floor covering market.

Looks like rolling out the yellow can bring in a lot of green.