|SEO, PPC, Content and Reputation Management, Social Media, and more Mike Stewart aka "The Dallas SEO Guru"|
posted January 2, 2011 in Advertising & Marketing | Complaints & Scams | Dallas Search Engine Marketing | Disgruntled Former Employee Rants | Google Advertising Tips & Secrets | Politics & Government | Uncategorized | YellowCrooks.com Information
In the early days of modern medicine, men went around selling various unproven and untested concoctions to people with claims of amazing cures and an instant relief of whatever ails them. Greed and fraud is why our Government decided to step in and end this predatory business practice by creating the FDA.
Greed is the word that best defines crony capitalism. Greed and gluttony are traits that seldom gain attention amongst the executive culture on Wall Street. The average surgeon makes just around 2 million $ per year, the average Hedge Fund manager earns well over 800 million $ per year. Why? Greed. That money should be shared with investors in an equal proportion to the amount invested.
Over these last few months, I’ve been paying close attention to the solicitations from so-called SEO scam artists (aka: professionals) who make false claims and guarantees to improve client rankings or get them on the first page of Google. It seems that little thought or focus on the sales call goes into how they intend to accomplish the actual task. Is it because want to avoid giving away the secret? Or is it because they have no real PLAN?. In many cases the client already ranks, but it seems as though some SEO companies think that every small business or website needs their help with web rankings, so they feel the need to continue to spam website contact forms and scrape email addresses off of websites to solicit new business with these statements.
It is said that 50% of advertising wasted. It should also be said that “50% of contact form emails are solicitations.” Thanks for creating a crappy user experience spammers!
The worst old sales tactic in sleazy yellow pages sales was the “I want to update your listing” phone call. This is total lie and complete BULLSHIT! They don’t give a rats butt about the business FREE listing. The purpose for the call is to sell an ad in the “most used/distributed/awesome phone book.”
Fast forward to the days of the internet, Search Engine Marketing companies have are using the same tactics to sell internet marketing solutions. They begin with “We want to LIST or SUBMIT your site to Google or major search engines. We can help you make sure that you are listed with local online directories. BLAH BLAH BLAH BULLSHIT BULLSHIT. It never stops.
I had an interesting call with a fella from ReachLocal recently that actually made me somewhat proud to be a holistic search engine marketing practitioner. With the new ReachCast product they are actually discussing techniques that I employ for my clients, such as content strategy and social media bookmarking. I have never been fond of the companies automated PPC bid management system, but minus the lack of focus on the clients website compared to the focus on the “Cast” page, I think ReachLocal has managed to standout as the ethical standard for large internet marketing firms. If they had the focus on 100% pricing transparency as it pertains to clicks they would see a huge drop in client complaints.
Another large internet marketing firm is Local.com. Local.com recently purchased the web design and content writing approach from Octane360. If you compare ReachLocal’s Reachcast service and Local.com’s Octane 360 offering, you will see that they are similar and equally overpriced compared to what a small agency like mine offers, but considering the offerings from the Yellow Pages companies, not a bad at all! Local.com has pushier sales people though.
I have seen way too many SEO firms claiming to be able to help my clients rank on Google, yet when you ask them about on-site and off-page content with links they go blank. My company SMB SEO provides every client with Google or Woopra Analytics, Google AdWords PPC reports, and customized keyword Web Ranking Reports. Why? To create transparency by ensuring to the client that we are making progress on our commitment to achieving the desired result for the client. We also provide call tracking from CallMeasurement.com.
Search Engine Marketing is not like the yellow pages. It is not a commodity. SEOs must schedule activities such as articles, press releases, social media message distribution, and video content in order to maintain a results focused approach. Without a schedule ( insert transparency on what you are paying for ) they are just scanners who are charging you for the idea of the result, much like how yellow pages publishers continue to sell their antiquated products.
Don’t be a scammer.
There are only three reasons that folks call my company:
Pretty simple, right?
Unfortunately for you, shady and sleazy companies ( typically those who are not socially responsible while often overpaying executives ) are the ones with resources to hire sales reps to solicit search marketing services. They often use industry lingo and confusing contracts and then back these iron clad contracts up with legal teams. Don’t get me wrong, pursuing profit is not a bad thing, so long as it allows the business to invest in paying more American workers and donating to American charities. You know, social responsible companies.
I am praying that business owners are smart enough to know better, but considering the type of companies that fall victim to the “$850.00/month” credit offered by some media companies like the yellow pages, these predatory practices will continue. For big companies the act of repairing reputations just takes a lil $.
If your SEO Company does not offer a planned schedule that includes a content strategy and measurement of successes, you are likely not going to get either of them. I recommend staying away from such a firm. A good start in finding a good search engine marketing expert is to search Google!
posted December 24, 2010 in Advertising & Marketing | Complaints & Scams | Dallas Search Engine Marketing | Dallas Search Engine Optimization | Google Advertising Tips & Secrets | Ideas | YellowCrooks.com Information
Earlier this year Google announced that new Google Social Search Features Went Live and more recently Google responded to Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land that, like Bing, Google uses social signals as a ranking factor in search results. I have a feeling that with the latest growth and advancements in Places Search (Google, Facebook, etc…) combined with the recent changes in the Google search results for the 20% of queries that have location or local intent, Social search will be the next big factor combined in Google’s new blended search results algorithm.
Essentially, Social Signals + Place Rank = Yellow Pages of tomorrow.
The challenges, for Matt Cutts and the team of engineers with Google’s Web Spam Team, as it pertains to local search, has been the constant need for Google’s policing and scrutiny of ratings and reviews to ensure the authenticity of the local listing reviews. Many of the reviews in Google Places originate as a review on another site (we SEO Geeks call these “citations.”) Just recently Google made an algorithmic “manual tweak” due to a recent claim that a local business was treating customers bad in order to rank higher on search engines. If Google makes a better effort to incorporate social signals, branded term distinction, and incorporates a “QDF” or Query Deserves Freshness type mentality on local listings and results, it will be able to fight the future Facebook impact on local search. Facebook, the king of social, has the greatest ability to own the SMB repeat and referral business market.
In short, the days of making buying decisions based on limited information in a single display ad, like the yellowpages, are over.
My other predictions for 2011:
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, from Me and Mine to You and Yours!
posted December 11, 2010 in About Me | Advertising & Marketing | Complaints & Scams | Dallas - Fort Worth print Yellow Pages | Disgruntled Former Employee Rants | Google Advertising Tips & Secrets | Local Print Yellow Page Company Information | Uncategorized | YellowCrooks.com Information
Who uses the yellowpages?
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone say “nobody uses the yellowpages,” I would have been able to retire just 5 years into my near decade long career of selling and consulting on phone book advertising for Verizon Yellowpages and SuperPages.com.
To those that think people do not use yellowpages, I must disagree. Many people use the yelowpages every single day.
When I sold ads in Dallas, it was a challenge selling ads because in business perception often becomes reality.
For example, when the United States Department of Transportation created the interstate highway system we ultimately created the suburbs. We killed the traffic going through Route 66 towns, but over the course of the next few years rural towns became almost extinct. Just think of what the railroad did to towns that didn’t get rail lines a century before. This is apart of our country’s history. Technology and innovation lead to a migration of business growth and opportunity, from one media to another. Radio fueled the end of the Holocaust.
YELLOW PAGES ARE A BIG PART OF AMERICAN HISTORY.
I respect the contribution to local economies by the phone book. It was a catalyst for commerce and the creator of small business entrepreneurs everywhere.
Telecom employee unions also helped create high paying jobs for sales people and sales managers consulting in advertising solutions inside this simple product.
The suburbs are the future death of the yellowpages, because of mobile smart phone technology, saturation distribution, yellowpages industry fragmentation, and years of price-gouging and sleazy sales tactics by industry veterans. The phone book publishers now have a bad reputation amongst consumers and small business owners.
The phonebook has a continued chance of survival in Route 66 towns and most suburbs by catering to older, poorer, and less educated consumers. The age of phone book users are baby boomers with stable jobs and disposable incomes. Most of those that want to make the most educated and social buying decisions in suburban and urban markets won’t use the phone book. No matter how many books, with little incentive to use, you put on their porches, you will never see usage greater than 20% in urban markets.
Do yellow pages companies have a future? Sure. Just not the phone companies who were driven to fail by investors, bankruptcies, and greed.
Decisions by dumb bean counters and marketing reps at Verizon ended the focus in rural markets.
Verizon Telco pulled out of San Angelo Tx and the town hated losing it’s largest employer next to the city. The yellow pages death in San Angelo wasn’t caused by Verizon’s departure, but by the focus on margins and not putting resources or the business community first.
I witnessed this business model shift while just 19 years old working in the TCC Call Center in 2001 as a media consultant. ( First rep to never miss quota for 26 conscutive pay periods, I later received 3 President’s Awards at Texas Division Sales. ) First was ending the agreement to publish for CenturyTel, AllTel, and other independent telcos. Sprint took advantage of this. The rise of YellowBook as a serious competitor to the telco monopolies of the yellow pages industry. No longer where independent publishers not privy to the service order records for B1 and Residential phones lines. Independent publishers began publishing cheaper and more localized phonebooks. The creation of the independant publishers association began.
As a Board of Directors Member of the Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association, the first and largest search marketing group in the country, I am proud to be apart of the history in small business local search commerce.
I appreciate the role of yellow pages.
Just 7 years ago over 78% of Americans used the Yellow Pages print. Today that number represents less than 20%, contrary to what publishers try to tell you.
A old saying is “58% of all commercial statistics are false.” This is defined by industry research paid for by industry companies to the same researchers and analysts.
The future of the yellow pages will be in subscription-based magazines or hyper-local publishers.
Can the yellow pages successfully integrate content, group buying, and value to consumers leveraging the future technology of paper and tablets? We will see. I believe in the value of display advertising. Let’s hope phonebook companies recognize that display ads are in its future, or the reason for its death, like Route 66.
I have to admit, I love the small towns. I am from Rouse City Tx and my Grandma owned a Feed Store.
Can Yellowpage companies create small business advertising consultants offering a large bag of solutions incorporating content and transparency? Will the entire phonebook become call tracking lines for ROI measurement like we offer with internet marketing services?
The future will tell.
-posted from my DroidX
posted December 10, 2010 in Advertising & Marketing | Complaints & Scams | Dallas Search Engine Marketing | Disgruntled Former Employee Rants | Local Print Yellow Page Company Information | Uncategorized | YellowCrooks.com Information
SuperMedia just inked a partnership deal with Web.com to provide SMB (small & medium business) websites, the first move to update the companies online product offerings since before being Verizon Information Services, pre-dating Idearc Media.
GTE/Verizon/Idearc/SuperMedia has had a long lasting relationship with Register.com, the company Web.com recently purchased for 135 million big ones. Just a 65 million dollar loss for the VC team that purchased the company for 200 million smack-a-roos 5 years earlier.
If SuperMedia has a buyout opportunity, now is the time. Considering that they officially appointed Peter McDonald as CEO, the guy from Dex, now is the time to sell SuperPages.com and combine Dex and VZ print publishing efforts with significant cost saving in management and operations payroll with combined efforts.
Good: WEB.com is proactive with negative keyword insertion strategies for online reputation management, better than SuperMedia’s ORM and PR Team.
Let’s see how far they manage to drive these search results for “Web.com Scam” down.
Good: Hostopia/Netopia Motorola outdated content management systems are done for.
Bad: Outsourcing web marketing to a DIY platform like Godaddy’s WebsiteTonight product or Web.com’s DIY based website products vs in-house.
Bad: Not following the masses with widely used, supported, and future-proof web based content management systems like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal is still taking a step sideways vs forward. This is not evolution.
Ugly: Does the client own the site design or is it still like Hostopia/Motorola sites that you can’t keep should you desire not to renew your contract?
If you can’t invest $1000.00 to $1500.00 in your online brand you must either be in rural America serving your local area or your target market consists of “OLD” people.
Ugly: This guy’s email from India this morning proves that folks overseas know more about search marketing solutions than Yellow Page folks, hedge fund managers, commodity sellers, and the average small business owner.
Ugly: When Google and Woopra Analytics state that your site is getting 59 website visitors in 6 months to your SMB website, yet the yellow pages or vertical directory send you a report stating you had 300+ visitors, something is wrong. This happens all the time. Most of the time folks don’t know it because they have proprietary website development platforms and the providers do not permit you to embed an analytics tracking code. Maybe website analytics doesn’t work right, otherwise why would there be such a huge discrepancy? Or better yet, maybe someone is lying to you in order to keep getting your money.
Let’s end this on a Good note:
Good: I am going out on a limb. I am offering FREE call tracking numbers for Christmas via CallMeasurement.com. Track the effectiveness of Yellow Pages, listings, or any advertising media.
Email me for details. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays folks!
posted November 18, 2010 in Advertising & Marketing | Complaints & Scams | Dallas - Fort Worth print Yellow Pages | Dallas Search Engine Marketing | Disgruntled Former Employee Rants | YellowCrooks.com Information
Just got back from the Dallas/Fort Worth Search Marketing Association www.DFWSEM.org meeting. You won’t believe it but the attendance was over 150 people tonight! The topic was the State of Search, featuring a gentleman from a Search Engine News Website and with two wonderful young ladies from Google and Bing. Very exciting stuff for search geeks like myself.
So… however that quote goes, has it never been more true than in the advertising sales business.
You ever go out and tell a client what they are really getting from the service you provide? If you do it with an absolute clear conscience, you know, kinda like the feeling of helping someone down on his or her luck, wouldn’t you think you and the company you keep should be rewarded with this clients future business? Companies that can do this well have a great product or service to offer. Companies, like those that report phone book usage is down from 25% to now 11%, but then claim that they want to “opt themselves” out of paying a State mandated (so to speak) “tax” that requires them to produce a product that consumers don’t want or use, yet they then want to sue for the “freedom of speech” to saturate homes with unwanted industry waste… is that not pot meet kettle or what? The business practices of what was once an honest profession are disturbing. It is not all publishers. The problem is really all publishers combined. Take for instance my zip code, if you visit the Yellow Pages Opt Out site you will see that my home receives 4 different yellow pages company products, which equates to 6 books a year worth of collective waste. I wonder how much useful wood chips are being wasted? It is not like they are keeping legal citizens on payroll distributing the waste anymore? Have we officially handed phone book distribution responsibilities to illegal immigrants? I guess if the garbage man who doesn’t speak a lick of English can remove the phonebook trash for free, at no cost to the publishers, I am sure it won’t hurt for his Wife to keep busy littering our porches with them? Probably not the intent of the design behind the recycle symbol circle on your phonebook, but it sorts takes on a whole new meaning huh?
John Paulson is a smart man for booting SuperMedia CEO Scott Klein, and his two EVPs out of the company. Time to make room for DexOne management. DexOne folks didn’t subscribe to the Verizon/Idearc way of cheating. With the bankruptcy of Idearc, FairPoint Communications, and Hawaiian Telecom, Verizon should be held liable for unloading massive amounts of debt free and clear after two years outside of the nest, especially considering the knowledge of mobile smart phone advancements and patents. Considering the timing of the bankruptcy, one has to question the integrity of the investors and executives, whom did an excellent job of raising executive salaries while demanding subordinates take massive paycuts and benefit reductions. I guess we should ask Congress to do the same too? It is not like the 545 folks that run our federal government ever get fired for doing a crummy job?
What does this have to do with Google?
Product advancements in search come from ideas. Problem solvers combined with engineers and designers who create amazing solutions and verticals for just about any consumer need. The best that the Worlds first and once most respected “internet technology” companies, the yellow pages industry veterans, could create was an online version of the printed product. Nothing more, nothing less. That was because they, like most other intelligent businesses, understand how to carve a niche. Too bad ethics and technology passed them up. Companies like the one I used to work for are inundated with mid-level sales managers, high quotas, fat profit margins, nepotism, excessive executive compensation, and a lack of focus on change. Just because you are relevant today, doesn’t mean you will be relevant tomorrow. The YP industry lacked the foresight to see the near future. Even paid search was a rush it to market solution with an inferior product like SMLocal that didn’t incorporate the tools from Google’s UI and AdWords Editor desktop applications. What we got was a cheap investment of the BidCenter tool from the purchase of Inceptor vs true software as a service (SAAS) solutions or platform planned and engineered application, such as those from companies like ReachLocal.com. To build a massive search marketing company you must find a way to embrace a holistic methodology to search and social, stay transparent with cpc/cpa and offer measurement tools and reporting such as Google Analytics.
The next step is to incorporate content strategy, and then after dotting i’s and crossing all the t’s you get to sales. Not sales and then a wonderful and almost preplanned game of hot potato by the outsourced and overworked/understaffed fulfillment department. Beuller? ANYONE want to take some accountability for the clients problems? Your CEO must be on the same page as your head engineer and his team of programmers. This is the side of corporate that deserves investment. Clearly not what Verizon chose to invest in with its Yellow Pages division Verizon Information Services.
Do you know why two terrible companies, or expired business models combined, just make one really bad company or idea?
John Paulson’s Hedge Fund was lied to by yellow pages executives. Now Mr. Paulson’s fund managers are making plans to turn yellow lemons into lemonade by combining the administrative and management expenses of SuperMedia and DexOne. I guess that is what most people hope, just because some monopolizing of the printed yellowbook business would be a good thing for porches everywhere. So the plan is to cut costs, merge resources and expenses, kill white pages, and then sell whatever is left back to investors or bondholders, but not at 40 bucks a share and the thirty some odd dollars per share they shorted the way down…. does this ring a bell folks? Gotta love crony hedge funds as much as crony capitalists right? I guess you deserved to be lied to… that is what you get for backroom deals to rob shareholders on bankruptcies of a dying business model before the companies had the opportunity for fresh and creative leadership to take a shot. Too bad when Verizon Yellow Pages and Idearc Media was spun off of big Verizon that big Verizon didn’t get to keep the crony leadership team from Kathy Heartless…. errr I mean Harless.
Maybe they need to just stop pretending they are so Super and actually do what is needed to become it… invest in something… anything. Just RIF the entire Verizon Management Team and start fresh… or do what Local.com did and buy a company like Octane360 for a basic SEO offering? Heck, you can’t do worse than BidCenter/SMLocal and Business.com. (lol)
posted October 23, 2010 in Advertising & Marketing | Complaints & Scams | Dallas - Fort Worth print Yellow Pages | Disgruntled Former Employee Rants | Politics & Government | Rhetorical Questions | Uncategorized | YellowCrooks.com Information
To some organizations business is a collaborative process. Grunts at the bottom share suggestions to decision makers at the top on policy related issues. Solutions to problems that impact the good will of clients and the success of the consultants or grunts. In other organizations, unless you are in a position of power, your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions are worthless. You are more or less an assembly line worker who can only impact the decisions that you have been given “authority” to control. Decisions such as what to do when you have a customer complaint.
Companies of the future are nothing-like companies of the past. The old ways of doing business just plain sucks compared to the “Google” or “Zappos” type business environments. You don’t find many mindless slaves who are told to do as they are told without permission for contribution of ideas for improvement.
Before I ended my employment with Idearc/SuperMedia in 2009, I happened to hire one of the best family law firms in the Dallas area to represent me for my Mother’s estate. My Mom died tragically in a motorcycle accident in October of 2008. While at the Idearc/SuperMedia office during this time, I witnessed first hand the questionable actions and backstabbing tactics on behalf of SuperMedia’s sales management team. This deeply disturbed me. I attempted to correct this problem as an employee but was ultimately pushed out the door by Bill Brewer, the new head honcho of Texas Sales at Fuller Drive in Irving Texas. Bill, in all his infinite wisdom, had been on the job for just 2 weeks.
On SuperMedia’s website they claim:
So to resolve this longtime customer issue, I sent this long email last week to SuperMedia’s management team and public relations department decision makers.
So, what was SuperMedia’s formal response? TALK TO OUR LEGAL DEPARTMENT. I don’t talk to legal departments. The response from SuperMedia doesn’t shock me. They had the opportunity to win a big on back. They screwed up, but they sit behind some God forsaken bullshit 4 page microfont contract and want to keep the philosophy that the company has no corporate conscience.
Considering that “Attorneys and Lawyers” account for 13% of the revenues for yellow pages publishers, I am sure once my new “Attorney Yellow Pages Advertising” website is complete, lawyers everywhere will have a new place to discuss these sort of injustices.
As a libertarian, not that it matters other than my addiction to all things political, I firmly believe that social media will be the deciding factor in how business is done. No longer do you get clients from name recognition alone. Reputation is vital to the success of any business entity. Activities like those mentioned above do not go unpunished. We have been forced to pick sides, whether it be Democrat or Republican, since the early days of voting. Social media and online reputation has thrown a wrench in the way the gears of business turn. You can not avoid your questionable actions. Future elections will be decided in social media, not yard signs and bullcrap TV ad promises.
My response to SuperMedia’s management teams response to this email? “How about telling the legal department to call me!”
Otherwise, I will be seeing you folks here later. Standing by the good guys. You know, the big local law firm that has padded the pockets of your crony executives and sales reps for countless years only to be stabbed in the back by your so called “media consultants”. Just a bunch of mindless cold calling commission sales reps. They (specifically all the new folks you hired to cut salary costs) don’t know the first thing about real media buying.
posted September 11, 2010 in About Me | Complaints & Scams | Disgruntled Former Employee Rants | Local Print Yellow Page Company Information | Politics & Government | Rhetorical Questions | Uncategorized | YellowCrooks.com Information
In the early 1960′s Stanley Milgram, a scientist, wanted to uncover what kind of common characteristics existed in evil people. So he set up an experiment with an actor playing an experimental subject and a real experimental test subject. The real subject would ask a question to the subject (the actor) and then if the subject got the question wrong the real test subject would shock the actor with an “electric charge”, so long as the scientist, an authority,would reassure the test subject that what he/she was doing was the right thing. The electric charge was not real, the actor would scream out in pain as the test subject would increase intensity. Approx 50% of the test subjects tested would continue the shock treatment on the subject to the point of death.
This experiment is a classic example of what is wrong with evil corporations and crony executive leaderships. Test subjects or loyal sycophants will do anything, as long as they have the encouragement of the superior or authority figure.
For 10 years I was a participant in an industry that had an Enron style corporate culture. Regardless of what happened to clients, shareholders, and employees not in management, executives would continue to demand people stay the course. Executives, like Scott Klein the CEO of SuperMedia, had zero investment in the company. Employees who understand the business were told to “shut-up” and agree, accept, and fulfill the changes the new CEO was making. Regardless whether or not these changes are in the best interest of shareholders, employees, or the future of the organization.
Being a corporate leader requires the utmost ethical conscience, honesty, and fraud prevention and corporate crime policing. Whistleblowers are to be respected and given a podium to speak from.
When the SEC began investigating Enron, Ken Lay reaffirmed traders and other employees that he and the company were frauded by “Andy” Fastow, yet the companies auditor Arthur Anderson was busy shredding evidence of wrongdoing. Ken Lay the Enron CEO shifted all responsibility to Andy, traders, the Government, and anyone else besides the executive leadership.
Jeffrey Skilling told employees to “invest your 401k” into Enron stock while he committed fraud. Skilling himself moved his money out of the stock. His Milgram Experiment was to keep influencing employees that what they were doing was right. Keep selling. Employees had faith in leadership. Leadership does not “fall on a knife” when corruption is discovered. When Scott Klein from Idearc met with employees, while being aware of his bankruptcy plans for the company, he assured employees and investors that the spin-off debt and stock arrangements were “strong.”
During the rise and fall of Enron, employees and investors were scammed for more than 20 billion. Just the same, Verizon scammed investors with Idearc stock, as well as FairPoint Communications and Hawaiian Telecom spin-offs. The fraud committed by Verizon, Idearc Executives, and SuperMedia’s CEO Scott Klein will be uncovered just like Enron in years to come.
I respect those who blow the whistle to protect the innocent. Those who are not in leadership or positions of influence. I respect the honest worker who gets up, turns on the pot of coffee and heads to work to do good. I respect the Good Guys, not those that put on a super cape and claim “Good Guy” status.
It is wrong to tell investors you have challenges with receivables yet turn around and increase the credit limitations to clients. It is wrong to tell investors good news while hiding the bad. This is manipulation and dishonest.
Milgram’s experiment emphasizes that leadership is ultimately responsible for corporate culture.
Leadership doesn’t get the axe. Take a look at the 545 folks who run this country. Do they get fired? They work for us voters, yet we can’t seem to fire them and they just blame the bad decisions on co-workers or subordinates.
It’s time to put your big boy britches on fellas. Grab your whistles, proxy statements and voting cards….. Make a CHANGE. It is in your hands. When people are crying out in pain, will you continue shocking them? Do you want the blood of the innocent on your hands? What will you do? I suggest it is time to grab and axe and start hacking away at the leadership team. Time for them to get fired!
(btw, I wonder why would an executive commit suicide? Enron’s executives did after the Justice Department began inquiring about illegal activities. Thousands of people faced with crimes go to prison or face social scrutiny, so why are white collar criminals so spineless that they become suicidal?)
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posted August 24, 2010 in Advertising & Marketing | Complaints & Scams | Disgruntled Former Employee Rants | Ideas | Politics & Government | Rhetorical Questions | Uncategorized | YellowCrooks.com Information
Take a look at Sea World. They knew the whale was more trouble than it was worth. A $75,000 suit later after discovering that executives tried to hide the fact that they knew about the potential troubles.
All they do is blame it on the employees for not “filing a complaint” or grievance. Reminds me of the corporate culture I witnessed while working in “corporate America.” Executives know what happens. They just blame it on subordinates for not filing a complaint or reporting to HR. Yet I personally witnessed employees being pushed out, pressured, and terminated for “blowing the whistle” on wrongdoings.
Easy for the executives. Let the minions fall on the sword. It is so easy to avoid it as the boss. Who is going to fire the boss? His team of circle jerks?
Makes me sick and glad to be away from corporate politics.
Seriously. I left High School and 2 months later joined Verizon Information Services. 9 years + later, I can attest that the only protections employees have is other employees. Yet I still have negative opinions about unions. I was one of the non union fellas who witnessed wage decreases and modest merit increases while unions negotiated cadillac contracts, pensions, and benefits packages.
Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.
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posted August 24, 2010 in Advertising & Marketing | Complaints & Scams | Dallas - Fort Worth print Yellow Pages | Disgruntled Former Employee Rants | Ideas | Local Print Yellow Page Company Information | Rhetorical Questions | YellowCrooks.com Information
Yellow Page Concierge Services…..
Service Magic has cost per lead for service companies locked and loaded. Yext is up and coming. Transparency is the future. Why? Because the internet is the “bathroom wall of America.”
Who will be the first publisher to attempt to incorporate pricing (such as a hotel concierge who provides the best deals to VIP clients for local sporting events, operas, and concerts) and providing the best local products and services. Not those backed by some long micro print guarantee that has nothing but a “these are the guys who purchased our ads” seal of approval. Consumers want to subscribe to the best deals. The best providers. And the best resources of information. The best directories offer traffic to advertisers. How do you get traffic? Well, you can buy it (not so smart) or earn it. Earning it requires unique value propositions and key differentiators.
What more can a yellow pages publisher do than stop offering up the biggest ad spenders, but those smbs most capable of servicing the true client of the yellow pages company, the CONSUMER.
Doesn’t sound cheap. Probably requires going back to the “compensation committee” and lowering the CEO’s salary and bonuses. But hey, when your stock is tanking and you already have an exit strategy in place, why would you want to rock the boat?
posted August 22, 2010 in Advertising & Marketing | Complaints & Scams | Dallas - Fort Worth print Yellow Pages | Disgruntled Former Employee Rants | Ideas | Local Print Yellow Page Company Information | Rhetorical Questions | Uncategorized | YellowCrooks.com Information
“Just because your business is relevant today, does not mean it will be relevant tommorow!”
Have you noticed how the terminology of the word “phonebook” has shifted from discussions of 5lb paperweights to contact lists on mobile devices. I just did a search on Twitter for “phonebook” and noticed that the repeated complaints about getting yellowpages directories delivered unsolicited to ones domicile with the “#phonebook” hashtag/keyword have been trending down. It is not like folks simply stopped complaining about “phonebooks” and unwanted yellowpages directory spam, I am just saying that the overall awareness, meaning, and viability of printed directories is dead. Although the word “phonebook” may become a very popular word once again in the near future!
The resurection of the printed book is not likely going to happen, but mobile devices will keep the idea of a “phonebook” on the forefront of our daily activities. When is the last time you used the white pages? Most folks are no longer programming cerebral sponges (brains) to remember phone numbers. We are becomming increasingly relient on our “phonebook” to provide us numbers and contact information.
Recently Yahoo stated that mobile search will account for 50% of all searches. I predicted mobile being 40% in less than two years just a few months ago on this blog. Now that smart phone technology is advancing to new leaps with great mobile browsers like Google’s Android browser, which has just recently officially taken the #1 spot from the iPhone’s Apple Safari Mobile Browser, and smart phones are no longer priced for affordability by the wealthy, I have a hunch that this migration to mobile will inundate the “local product or service” market quickly.
This all helps explain why SuperMedia stock, publisher of the SuperYellowPages “phonebooks,” is at an all-time low of around $12 per share. I also recall that Oppenheimer finally downgraded the stock from outperform to perform (the only other measurement is underperform) and the analyst who rated the company is likely on some sort of “shitlist.” Oppenheimer is no longer covering SuperMedia due to the size, or lacktherof, of SPMD’s stock marketcap.
The Paulson Hedgefund, who owns approx. 16.9% of SuperMedia stock recently sent a “not-so-secret” message to investors by selling a few small shares of the company. Last I heard this is a known trick on the street to encourage shortselling of a stock.
It is interesting to see that while SuperMedia’s pending doom is approaching, the “phonebook” is still alive and well. Phonebook’s will outlive the yellowpages phonebook. Trust me!
Meanwhile, I still feel 110% confident that I have a cure for wannabe “integrated media companies” who want to transition from a non transparent, unfocused, hard sell, high margin, dying business model to a transparent collaborative service oriented enterprise2.0 business model. Stay tuned.
Join me at PubCon Vegas for details! See ya there folks!
Don’t forget to wear your red on Thursday folks! SuperSleuth out!
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posted July 30, 2010 in Complaints & Scams | Dallas - Fort Worth print Yellow Pages | Disgruntled Former Employee Rants | Local Print Yellow Page Company Information | Politics & Government | YellowCrooks.com Information
Verizon’s Idearc SuperMedia Stock Fraud Exposed
Here is a link to the Class Action Lawsuit filed against Verizon, JP Morgan etc for SuperMedia/Idearc Stock and Bankruptcy Fraud. Verizon, Idearc’s Executive’s including most of the same Verizon and now current SuperMedia leadership, committed a crime! I was a Verizon employee from 2000 to 2006, then Verizon Yellow Pages became Idearc. It all went downhill from there! Looked at the SEC filings and figured out what Idearc did. They may have gotten away with a perfect crime. I just can’t figure out how a bankruptcy court judge would allow it. But considering the compensation of Idearc’s bankruptcy lawyers in Dallas, and the history with the local federal bankruptcy judge… this looks worse than Bernie Madoff!
How to wipe out shareholders and pad the pockets of bankers, hedgefund managers, and executives 101:
Step 1: Create a public company with two accounts one public and one private.
Step 2: Load all debt to the public account at inception, but report all earnings as one entity, which makes most people believe the debt to asset ratio is okay.
Step 3: Put most of the money into the private account.
Step 4: File for bankruptcy and get rid of the public account.
Step 5: Do it again under a new name.
Very clever, but is it legal? The courts will have to decide. The company had $1.7 billion in assets when it filed for chapter 11 and that money was never factored in during the bankruptcy. On at least 3 separate occassions, Verizon has sold or spun off companies which they themselves overloaded with VERIZON debt. (Fairpoint Communications, Hawaiian Telecom, and Idearc Media) All 3 of these companies filed for bankruptcy resulting in massive losses to anyone who invested their hard earned money trusting the Verizon name. I have always been a strong believer in the “buyer beware” philosophy but Verizon’s hands are certainly NOT clean in all of this. Any individual investor who got caught up in this would be hard pressed to defend Verizon. The entire 2006 earnings is a fraud. Verizon declares $772 million net earnings minus any debt. Verizon then spins off Idearc and takes most of the cash and leaves Idearc with $72 million. Verizon set up two accounts in respect of its whole business: one to hold the cash (the $9 Billion that it borrowed), and one to hold the debt for the borrowing (Spinco). The latter it got rid of, but wrapped up in a pretty package, along about Thanksgiving time, called “Idearc” (vaguely reminiscent of a sort of Noah’s arc of supreme “wisdom”), and garnered with a handsome (though very perishable) dividend. Actually, it was a bomb, expressly timed (in the “tax sharing agreement”) to explode exactly at the two year mark necessary to avoid capital gain tax on the transaction.
And then, when it did explode in hands of remote purchasers for value (relying on the Verizon name and integrity), and just as was certainly predictable, Verizon, acting like a total stranger, simply walks away. It might have stopped; it might have looked, and thought of something – thrown a blanket over the victim of its own actions – it could have guaranteed the bonds; taken a preferred issue to pay them off, made a short term loan to help its own telephone book get through the recession – many things…but no. The causal agent of the catastrophe acted just like the driver who hits the pedestrian – 437,000. of them in this case – and just goes on driving down the road….the SEC POLICE nowhere to be seen. It is likely the low point of the American securities system and the New York Stock Exchange. Current participants in this don’t want to tell it. History certainly will.
Just in case you wondered:
Counsel to the Debtors (Idearc) – Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. 2200 Ross Avenue, Suite 2800 Dallas, TX 75201-2784 T: 214-855-8000 F: 214-855-8200 http://www.fulbright.com
Counsel to Unsecured Creditors – Haynes and Boone, LLP 2323 Victory Avenue, Suite 700 Dallas, TX 75219 T: 214-651-5000 F: 214-651-5940 http://www.haynesboone.com
The Debtors’ actual cash balance as of July 31, 2009 was $616 million.
Latest update: Verizon Sued for Fraud http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-16/verizon-sued-by-idearc-creditors-claiming-2006-spinoff-led-to-bankruptcy.html
posted July 7, 2010 in Advertising & Marketing | Complaints & Scams | Dallas - Fort Worth print Yellow Pages | Disgruntled Former Employee Rants | Google Advertising Tips & Secrets | Local Print Yellow Page Company Information | Reviews | YellowCrooks.com Information
Super Media receives the honor of being the first company on my SEM Scam list. Next on the hit list is Reach Local. They have many of the same problems as Super Media.
We have all heard “If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.” Why then do we not listen to our guts when some smooth talking salesman from Super Media, or Yellow Pages, or Dex talks us into an appointment, and then delivers a perfect speech, with just the right amount of pressure to get us to sign a long term (12 month) contract for an internet marketing program?
I will preface this list by telling all of you that I am a former employee of Idearc Media, now Super Media. That is how I know some of the things I know. Before anyone decides that I am disgruntled, let me say that I am only upset, because Idearc Media made a liar out of me. I wanted to believe in this company, and from day one in training, I saw signs posted all around the training room that spoke of Integrity, and always doing the right thing. The trainers even spoke of NEVER selling a client anything they don’t need, and even implied that you could be terminated for such behavior. Then I got out of training, and stepped into the real world. That is when things went sour. Not because of a boss, or fellow employee, but because when I smell B.S. I ask questions, and that is not perceived very well in the corporate world.
Long story short – I was excited about the “new” SEM packages that Idearc was offering, and I bought in 100%. I hit the streets running, and sold a good amount of these programs, in addition to selling their other products, Yellowpages, and Direct Mail. I was a top 5 sales rep (top 3 for a while and tops on my team for a few months) and made over $75,000 my 1st year. Then the reports for my clients SEM program started rolling in, and let’s just say that the news was not good. There was red flag, after red flag.
Now you reap the rewards of what I learned about Super Media Programs, as well as their competitors. Listed below are the reasons I can think of why you should run from this SEM program, FAST, and don’t look back. These are just he one’s I can think of – there are more.
posted June 26, 2010 in Advertising & Marketing | Complaints & Scams | Dallas PPC Optimization | Dallas Search Engine Marketing | Google Advertising Tips & Secrets | YellowCrooks.com Information
Most Dallas pay-per-click advertising experts base their paid search, also know as PPC, pricing plans on a percentage of spend. There are a few that base their pricing on cost-per-conversion where the client determines a budget and how much they are willing to pay for a lead and the agency retains any un-spent budget. Then, there are the fixed fee pricing plans, such as the one that SMB SEO offers Dallas area clients.
Here is a summary of a few strengths and weaknesses of the different pricing options:
Percentage of Spend
Advantage: If the client is spending more there will be more work to be done.
Disadvantage: This encourages the agency to raise the client’s budget to gain more revenue for the agency, even if the increase is not warranted for revenue generating.
FEE ranges between 10% and 30% depending on the budget amount and overall number of campaigns/ads being managed.
Advantage: The client is paying for conversions on a one-for-one basis. The agency is only at risk if they are not hitting their totals
Disadvantage: The quality of leads may suffer and/or the means to acquire them may be questionable
FEE is based on a cost per call, cost per appointment, cost per sale, or cost per action.
Advantage: The client has a predictable fee and the agency is not motivated to do things against the best interests of the client.
Disadvantage: The agency has not additional motivation to seek better opportunities for the user. Less incentive can lead to poor quality of work.
FEE is based on a set monthly amount to manage campaigns. Most agencies charge clients as much as $500.00 to $1000.00 per month for pay-per-click budgets under $3,500.00 monthly billing.
At smbSEO, we provide PPC campaigns builds for a flat hourly fee, ppc management fee of only $199.00 per month for click budget accounts under $3,000.00 and a small additional fee for website landing page banner creation, Google display advertising, call metrics (advanced call tracking) and on going on-site training and consulting. What smbSEO offers clients can’t be beat by other internet web marketing firms. We offer 100% transparency, great service, and all of our client campaign builds include Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing, and MSN AdCenter campaigns.
At smbSEO, we are able to offer all of these various different options. Helping you strategize your small business web marketing plan is our specialty.
Couple of words of caution: We do not recommend hiring pay-per-click marketing firms who hide account information or those that use proprietary bid management systems. We do not recommend hiring an agency to build a campaign that you do not retain ownership of in the event you decide to find a new paid search marketing agency. Another big advantage to smbSEO’s pay-per-click advertising management is that it is provided on a month to month basis.
For too long search marketing companies have attempted to turn internet marketing, a service, into a product. Google dominates search volume with over 65% of all internet searches. Local search is extremely fragmented with countless online yellow pages sites and directories. Determining where to allocate your marketing dollars is a tough decision. smbSEO makes it easy to measure the effectiveness of your online advertising by providing web rank tracking reports and Google analytics to all of our clients.
So, take my advice: Own your PPC Campaign. Keep your information out of the hands of your competitors. Use Google’s AdWords user interface and request access to the account. If you do sign a contract for pay-per-click advertising management fees, don’t do it longer than 3 months! Also, don’t allow agencies to mark up your fees or costs per each click. If you can’t see exactly what Google charged your credit card per click, you are likely getting scammed. It is still possible to add a percentage mark-up, just make sure you know exactly how much is was marked-up and you agreed to the fee beforehand.
Couple other things to consider: Don’t send all your traffic to your websites Home Page. If your PPC provider does not provide click conversion optimization, it is time to find a new agency. Be careful for scam artists who sell you PPC advertising than outsource your pay-per-click management to India.
A properly built PPC campaign will improve your Quality Score within Google’s PPC Advertising Algorithm and lower your cost per click. Just because your competitor bids more per click, does not necessarily mean that they will be in a higher ranked position in pay-per-click.
If you need more PPC advice, shoot me an email at dallasSEOguru@gmail.com, and be sure to cc: dallasPPCguru@gmail.com as well!
Here is a Google Analytics screenshot:
posted June 14, 2010 in Complaints & Scams | Disgruntled Former Employee Rants | YellowCrooks.com Information
Go read about it on YellowCrooks.com, funny story if you ask me. Finally, Scott Klein the companies CEO, finds a new way to earn some of his bonus! lol. Let’s get rid of $700k+ in payroll, while attempting to get ready for Dex One merger!
Go read about it on YellowCrooks.com, funny story if you ask me. Finally, Scott Klein the companies CEO finds a new way to earn some of his bonus! lol. Let’s get rid of $700k+ in payroll, while attempting to get ready for Dex One merger!
posted June 12, 2010 in Complaints & Scams | Ideas | Politics & Government | Rhetorical Questions | YellowCrooks.com Information
I was considering posting my thoughts about the Gulf Oil Spill Crisis and BP.
Found out today via Facebook that someone else knows what’s up!
Seems that we forget BP is a foreign company. Do you think BP’s executives are handling the situation correctly?
After reading Paul’s thoughts, do you think he is right? Do you think BP = YellowCrooks?
Letting a massive oil company self-regulate its own environmental disaster might not be the way to go.
It is one thing to fail to admit when one of your executives has a drinking problem, it is another to lie about how bad things are. Is BP trying to get the Gulf Coast to drink oil flavored Kool-Aid? Let’s hide how bad things really are.
Sounds like they have a great future. Time for us to hold corporations, companies, and executives accountable for actions that not only harm investors, but also the general public interest.
That’s my 3 cents.
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