Last week, my colleague Amy Healy and I had the exciting opportunity to attend the European Association of Directory and Database Publishers’ (EADP) 2011 Congress, which took place across the pond in beautiful Dublin, Ireland. EADP is largest annual event for the European database, search and directory publishing industry.
In my keynote address at the conference, I talked about our organization’s rebranding earlier this year from the Yellow Pages Association to the Local Search Association, and how it reflected a major transformation in our industry’s business model. I challenged our counterparts at EADP to take a look at the lessons we’ve learned over the past year and see how they might apply them to their own organization.
To help shape that conversation, I started by looking at two companies in different industries that faced similar challenges to our members and leveraged their strengths to overcome those obstacles: Nike and UPS. In doing so, these companies changed the way people thought of them:
- In 1980, Nike had 50% market share and had grown into one of the most popular and recognized brands for quality shoes. But over the years, it faced increased competition from Adidas, Reebok and New Balance. So in 2009, Nike partnered with an unlikely match, Apple, to launch Nike Plus, which effectively turned its sneakers into personal trainers. This gave Nike a leg up on its competitors.
- UPS is one of the world’s largest shipping companies – it delivered some 4 billion packages in 2010 alone. But UPS recognized that it faced stiff competition from FedEx and others, and that to stay ahead, it needed to find new ways of delivering new value to customers. So UPS began a campaign to highlight not its ability to deliver packages, but its expertise in handling logistics. The company highlighted its third-party fulfillment facilities and services that enabled businesses to use UPS to house their products, accept orders and ship them. In doing so, UPS changed its business model and the way people perceived them.
For years, we and our members have focused on connecting local businesses and consumers via the print Yellow Pages. But changes in the media environment have altered the equation so that local businesses and consumers are finding each other in a variety of new ways, whether it’s through online and mobile directories, social media, or daily deals.
As our members adapt to these changes – and new companies enter the space – we have redefined the mission of our organization. Our new effort is to support the industry focused on generating high-quality leads for local businesses and creating options for consumers who are trying to determine with whom to do business, no matter what avenue is used.
By broadening our scope, we have signed up or started discussions with a number of new members, including Microsoft, CityGrid, Yelp, and MerchEngines, among others. We’ve also launched a new industry job site, JobJolt, which offers a central location for local search job postings.
European publishers are further along than our American members in terms of the percent of revenue derived from digital products, so EADP has a unique role to play in helping encourage that continued evolution. It’s a hard task, but I encouraged the EADP to make the transition now in order to maintain its relevancy in our changing industry.
I look forward to seeing how EADP adapts over the next year as it explores its own transformation and works to attract a new set of members in the local search space. As always, we’ll be here offer our support along the way.