11
Dec
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?

Via Greg Sterling at Screenwerk:

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older folks.

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rural folks.

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.

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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.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vszqogn460]

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

17
Nov
posted November 17, 2009 in Advertising & Marketing | Complaints & Scams | Dallas - Fort Worth print Yellow Pages | DaLLAS area news | Dallas PPC Optimization | Dallas Search Engine Marketing | Google Advertising Tips & Secrets | Local Print Yellow Page Company Information | YellowCrooks.com Information

Our American economy, politics, and consumer spending market have all become a duopoly.

A true duopoly is a specific type of oligopoly where only two producers exist in one market. In reality, this definition is generally used where only two firms have dominant control over a market.

The most commonly cited duopoly is that between Visa and MasterCard, who between them control a large proportion of the electronic payment processing market. In 2000 they were the defendants in a US Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit.[1][2] An appeal was upheld in 2004.[3]

Examples where two companies control a large proportion of a market are:

What is most common in all these examples is the fear of competition by the capitalists at the top of these companies.  Regular Americans are not afraid of competition. Competition creates better jobs, better, economics, and better political policy. Competition creates innovation. Google is essentially afraid of it’s competition from Microsoft, Yahoo, and the next greatest internet fad or brand. It is what keeps Google on it’s toes and innovating.

What has contributed to making the above companies successful is creating a duopoly. Duopolies can be very profitable for category leaders. The only thing better for a large company is a monopoly. Take a moment and think of the yellow page advertising industry. For many years the local phone company was the only game in town for local advertisers to reach out to local consumers, essentially a monopoly. In 1984 the AT&T Telephone company was broken up. This essentially created healthy competition in an industry that really did not have competition. It was good for consumers since very few options existed at the time other than printed yellow page phone books, thus creating a duopoly.

Fast forward to the Telecom Act of 1996: It opened up competition and gave consumers more choice. Over the next few years  we saw an increased amount of competition among incumbant and CLEC phone companies in the yellow page advertising industry. No longer did the “phone companies” have a duopoly on the yellow page market. GTE Yellow Pages competed with Southwestern Bell Yellow Pages in the Dallas area market. Then all of a sudden we  saw a few independent phone books pop-up (mostly due to employees of the phone companies leaving and starting yellow page publishing companies with investors who saw the huge profit margins in yellow page advertising sales) over the next few years.

So what really happened to the yellow pages? The birth of the INTERNET. Google. Yahoo. MSN. etc., but most of all……” a huge change in the manner in which consumers find information.” Consider this, the internet has only been around for “Local Search” online since about 1999-2000, that is  just about four years post telecom deregulation.  I can tell you that from 2002-2009 the industry has done very little to compete with Google. While losing business to other forms of advertising media (such as Google and direct mail growth.)

The Yellow Page Duopoly in Media is Over

I witnessed the following questionable practices by executives of major yellow page publishers in order to create new revenues:

  • Dave Bethea at Idearc

and last but not least, what I witnessed first hand:

  • Sporting and Concert Tickets to friends and family vs Clients

Competition is good for all businesses (and in politics.) Competition creates innovation. Competition always offers a better value to consumers in the long run. Competition is bad for Crony Capitalists. Competition could have been good for the yellow pages, but since the Industry apparently disregards the feelings of its end-users by inundating homeowners with yellow page waste, It will eventually become a smaller factor in Local Search. Local search online will continue to outpace printed yellow pages. This is a FACT. The problem for Yellow Pages publishers is that they are not Google. They are not Yahoo. They are not MSN. They are FAR from innovative. They don’t ask the right questions. They do not care about the opinions of those that sale to clients. I was told this first hand.

I would love to conduct a poll among yellow page advertising sales reps about the usage of yellow pages. The company never asked for the information the entire time I was an employee? Why you ask? They don’t want me or 80% of the other 6,000 employees to let them know that we do not use the phone book. This is a fact. I have discussed this very subject with folks in the office while at Idearc Media in Dallas Tx.

Now there is the possibility that I am wrong. Considering that the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex has always been the #1 Market for Yellow Pages in the country, I have a feeling that I am correct on my opinions. After almost 10 years at Verizon/Idearc I have come to realize that my employers did not value my opinion or the opinion of sales. Chalk it up to crony capitalism!

Google is currently still a Monopoly in local Search

By the way, be sure to check out the national CMR agency TMP., the largest client for yellow pages companies in the country, on what is happening with phone book usage, advertising rates, and the true value of print yellow pages. You can follow them on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TMPDM. They are doing a great job of distributing ”syndicated” research on the trends of Local Search Marketing. Don’t ever rely on the statistics from the industry. Don’t ever trust a “sales rep” who is not accountable for achieving your results.

So what is the real future?

Cheers,

Mike Stewart

POST SCRIPT:

Great video (very long…….) on Duopoly, Capitalism, and Politics…….

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VebOTc-7shU]

09
Oct
posted October 9, 2009 in Advertising & Marketing | Dallas - Fort Worth print Yellow Pages | DaLLAS area news | Dallas PPC Optimization | Dallas Search Engine Marketing | Dallas Search Engine Optimization | Local Print Yellow Page Company Information | Politics & Government | YellowCrooks.com Information

Here is an article that I have been biting my knuckles trying to keep quiet about.
WSJ Comments On Idearc Bankruptcy & Verizon Culpability : Natural Search Blog

Posted using ShareThis

I read this article via a former employee of Idearc, one the Search Engine Marketing Industries most respected SEO consultants and who many believe to the the foremost experts on Local Search Marketing in the World, Chris Smith. Chris was formerly head of Idearc’s Search Engine Marketing team on the fella that helped put Superpages.com on the first page of Google. Chris did a tremendous job in the early day’s of local search beating other Internet Yellow Page Sites, such as YellowPages.com and Local.com (competing with keyword rich domains in the space is a challenge)

So the question is…. what do Idearc Media, FairPoint, and Hawaiian Telecom all have in common? They are all companies that Verizon spun off to fund Wireless and Fiber/TV/FIOS initiatives. Chris states, “Verizon might have some responsibility for the bankruptcies of Idearc, Hawaiian Telecom and FairPoint Communications”.

He also states:

In the case of Idearc, the business unit was too small to cause the great corporate mother ship to founder, and it’s the Verizon spin-off debt load it was saddled with that caused it to be unable to function in the first place. He misses the point that Verizon took too much money out of the spinoff deals. Those weren’t existing debts associated with those business units prior to their divestment.

These companies wouldn’t have “gone under” within Verizon. It’s possible that if a business unit starts to lose money for a quarter or two, the board would naturally require it to correct itself in some way.

I completely agree. I also think that the folks that worked for Ivan at Idearc at the time were over eager to accept whatever deal they could in order to be relieved of the burden of being under the Verizon direction. I don’t think it was smart of Kathy Harless and her team to take on such a debt burden…… seriously, over $9,000,000,000.00 for a company that has been losing its business to Google and Yellowbook and other competitors since 2001? It must have felt very confident on new product ideas such as Solutions at Home, Solutions Direct Mail, and Solutions on the Move! Nonetheless, the company would have never been able to create these new ideas and products under Verizon. Verizon used the Yellow Pages division as a cash cow to fund other ventures, then did it again when it unloaded debt on the smaller divisions.

I have a site that I am going to build: www.YellowCrooks.com, as I recently purchased the domain thanks to the idea from a former co-worker. He gave me the idea while being forced to watch an hour long rediculous “cocksure” video about sales, sales, and more sales. In my opinion sales was not the issue. The product offer and fulfillment was the major problem. (I have the credentials to state this since I was regarded as the most knowledgeable internet media consultant in the company {hey a FIGJAM moment for myself} and also have 3 President’s Awards for “Sales” in my 6.5 years in the division.) With the site I want folks to discuss what Verizon did. With all the transparency about Countrywide Mortgage and other recent events…. .why not?

Chris continues to state:

But, arguably these companies experienced a much higher degree of financial problems due to the extremely high debt they were required to service subsequent to spinoff. These spinoffs funded Verizon’s FiOS expansion — a gigantic project that was paid for by Verizon offloading the investment costs to the companies it spunoff.

It will be interesting to see if the Securities and Exchange Commission gives Verizon a pass on their spinoffs of bankrupt companies as Newmark seems to think reasonable, or if they don’t respond in some way to consumer and state government complaints.

In my opinion his comments are exactly why Idearc will have issues completing the bankruptcy. If I recall the company is going to come out with approx. 3 billion in debt when it emerges in Dec09/Jan10.

According to WebWire Press Release:

Idearc filed for voluntary chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to renegotiate its debt. Although Idearc was not technically bankrupt with over $500 million cash in the bank and net cash flow of $300 million per year, the weak economy spurred creditors into lowering the outstanding debt from $9 billion down to $3 billion along with more flexible payment terms. One of the terms is that Idearc give anything over $150 million in their bank account to creditors in order to pay down the $3 billion in debt. Essentially, Idearc will always have $150 million in the bank and anything over that will be taken out to pay down debt. Idearc’s 3 billion dollar debt has a note rate of 12%, the annual debt service is $360 million dollars, about 12.1% of 2008 gross annual revenue. The creditors/lenders have already approved the reduction in debt. The company is now waiting for approval from its board and the bankruptcy judge. According to the new deal, Idearc must give the creditors $250 million from its cash reserves as a sign of good faith. This will put Idearc’s cash position at approximately $250 million after the deal is completed

I hope the folks at the Downtown Courthouse in Dallas are taking all this into account! I know the counsel for the unsecured creditors is sure going to put pressure on fiduciary responsibility of Verizon. But in my opinion (or should I say prediction is) Verizon will probably buy Idearc back in some Bernie Madoff type crony deal and leave shareholders with pocket lint. Why? Because this is America! Heck, Verizon offered a separations package to folks that left the company and put it in writing that folks would not be hired back, yet these folks were later rehired after taking the Voluntary Separation Package with very nice severance packages. Do I blame the cocksure guy from Pepsi? Nope! Not for the burden. But it kinda makes me think of folks saying that Obama is not to blame for Bush’s choices. Well….. that might not be a good example…. or might just be?? Obama’s choice to put my kids in debt with the “Spendulus Plan” and Bail Outs might compare to turning “America’s local ad agencies” into a telemarketing service or abandon the internet business in favor of trying to keep the print alive. Honestly I have heard rumors (like I said!!! RUMOR!!!) about Idearc not wanting to stick with the .com product it offers since all it can muster is riding the coattails of Google and Yahoo in search. Margins in print make it easy to have 3000 “sales” reps. The smaller margins in .com might move the company towards that of a Media Buying Ad Agency and the company might follow in Google’s self automated pricing structure. Why should prices of ads be so darn “negotiable”?

I’d go a bit further and also agree with Chris and state “that if it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, it’s a rat”.

In the meantime….. y’all wish me luck….. I am hoping to start a company doing what I do best……

HELPING DALLAS AREA BUSINESS OWNERS REACH THE TOP OF GOOGLE AND MAKE MONEY!

Oh, yeah…. I think I am going to offer to create PPC campaigns for FREE and not charge a management fee or have you sign a contract…. Might be the wave of the future. Call me for details. FREE Google PPC Campaigns are subject to me providing my SEO services. Although technically I am not in business… maybe I can show folks how profitable SEO can be!