Thursday, May 27, 2004 / News / Odds & ends / W.Va. phone book riddled with errors

Kathy Dix sent me this article about a Verizon mess up over the phone numbers printed in West Virginia. Accuracy is hugely important, and overall this industry is highly accurate.

Articles like this make good news stories, though.
I received the following email from Drew Cameron with some tips for Yellow Pages advertisers. Drew is a marketing consultant, not a YP industry insider, so I appreciate his approach to the business.


The first tip on "Heading Jumping" is a littly touchy, but if it is done properly and within the guidelines, it is fair game.


I recently signed on for your newsletter and have enjoyed the few issues I've seen and the helpful info. on your website.

I also noticed you have a few tips from my friend and colleague of the Service Roundtable Matt Michel. I also noticed you keep company with another good friend Adams Hudson. So I thought I would send you few tips I have successfully used over the years since we tend to think alike and maybe these would help you help your readers.

1. Try "heading jumping" if appropriate. Heading jumping is a technique used to covertly appear as the front runner or first ad in the actual desired heading. For example, the heading Heat Pumps appears before Heating Contractors and Air Cleaning and Purification equipment appears before Air Conditioning Contractors.

There is sometimes a catch according to most YP publishers - the ad must be at least 33-75% (depending on market) skewed to the product or service in the heading. Wait for the publisher to raise this issue, otherwise run the ad you choose. If there is a copy-heading alignment requirement, you can still mention the other services you offer. If the publisher places this caveat on you, make your headline reflect the heading and seamlessly interlace the body copy with the other services you offer.

Conversely, you may consider just keeping in tune with the heading you jump to and be viewed as a specialist and inform customers of your other services when you receive the call, send someone out or through your other marketing once you capture their name.

So what and who cares if the competition jumps into the heading after you. It may be a few years before this happens anyway and with heading seniority you can remain the frontrunner.

2. If a heading doesn't exist for the product or service you offer, put in a request for the YP publisher to create a new heading. Most publishers will oblige if it's legitimate as they will see it as another heading to market and generate revenue. It never hurts to ask. The worst that can happen is they say 'No'.

So what and who cares if the competition jumps into the heading. It may be a few years before this happens anyway and with heading seniority you can remain the frontrunner.

3. Offer a FREE Consumer's Buying Guide in your ad. People love free stuff and a Buyer's Guide for a product or service that is widely misunderstood, highly technical, expensive, a once in a lifetime or long time purchase, etc. will be well-received.

The key is to write the Buyer's Guide from a neutral perspective that does not necessarily tout your products or company. Allow your sales process and marketing materials answer all the questions the Buyer's Guide poses in the customer's mind. You will be viewed as the market expert and will effectively eliminate competition that does not comply with the Buyer's Guide.

4. Remove and reverse all consumer risk in your ad. Offer "Your exclusive 100% unconditional satisfaction or your money back guarantee" in your ad. People hate risk and fear making a bad decision and this will go a long way to calming them.

5. If you are an after hours, weekend and holiday service provider make sure you always have a live person answer your phones. Don't use auto-attendants, answering machines or paging systems. Customers will either hang up or worry that no one will respond and call multiple companies.

People want to know that their concerns are being addressed and want immediate resolution. A live person can take the call and say they will dispatch a service person or have him/her contact the customer within 7 minutes (use an odd number as it sounds more immediate) for any further information required to ensure the best level of service and response (this is in case the call is a non-emergency, something that needs to be schedule during the day, or something the company does not do or wish to take on for whatever reasons).

The customer will hang up rest assured that their problem is being addressed.

Lastly, once you can provide this level of service say so in your ad. Say something like "We never close and you'll always speak to a live person never an auto-attendant, answering machine or paging system and then sit around, wait and hope that someone will return your call. Our courteous customer care staff will make sure you receive immediate service."

Immediate service is the fact that you took the call. How you schedule it thereafter must be in line with your marketing and customer service goals.

The intent is not to mislead the customer only to get them to call you. You can't serve them if you don't get the call can you.

Hope you enjoy these. Please feel free to share them with your readers.

Good luck and great selling!

Drew Cameron
Supernova Selling Systems a Service Roundtable Consult & Coach Partner
"Powerful Sales Solutions"

610-388-0822 (O)
610-745-7020 (C)
610-388-7157 (F)

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Here's an interesting post from Jacci Howard Bear, a user of Yellow Pages that happens to be an expert on graphic design. Again, it reiterates the point that users want lots of quality information in an easy to read format.

Dang, wish I'd thought of that.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Welcome to MarketingSherpa members.

The best place to view the content is in the recent newsletters. Check them out at this link

Here are a few quick stats . . .

The Yellow Pages Commando blog is targeted at the 3 million business who rely on the Yellow Pages to generate a significant source of business leads.

On average (always a dangerous assumption):

- 75% of the advertisers have a major service component to what they sell. They are either total service (such as a lawyer, chiropractor or snake charmer), or they are "Installed Product" companies such as roofers, dentists and fertility clinics.

- 65% of the advertisers rely on the Yellow Pages as their sole or significant advertising spend.

Thanks for stopping by,
Here's an interesting article with Mark Canon, VP of Switchboard discussing Internet Yellow Pages.

Switchboard Electrifies Online Yellow Pages

Switchboard was one of the first Internet Yellow Pages companies, and has recently been acquired by InfoSpace (acquisition pending). As a pure play IYP, Switchboard has spent a significant amount of money sending telephone directories to India to have the information in ads incorporated into their database. To that extent, they probably have deeper data on more businesses than any other IYP.

They also offer a private label solution for companies such as AOL, Knight-Ridder and TransWestern Publishing.

The acquisition gives InfoSpace a platform in which to serve local ads from multiple sources. Currently, all InfoSpace IYP traffic is diverted to Verizon's SuperPages. I understand that the agreement between InfoSpace and Verizon ends later this year.

I suspect that you'll eventually see InfoSpace driving their IYP traffic into the Switchboard platform, but incorporating Verizon's higher paying advertisers into the system.

I do question the validity of the traffic numbers being quoted. It simply seems far too high given the two players involved. Perhaps they are including some of the less monetizable searches such as maps and white pages in the overall numbers. They are significant, but I wouldn't classify them as important as Yellow Pages searches.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Ken Clark has introduced a new newsletter for the Yellow pages industry to coincide with his consulting business. The first issues just came out, and it's quite good.

I found the interview with Jerry DiPippo, President of Data national to be quite interesting.

YP Talk - The voice of the Yellow Pages industry.

Great job on the newsletter, Ken!

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Here's an interesting article regarding the web sites of newspaper publishers. It's interesting to see the panic hitting the newspaper industry over declining circulation.

While the Yellow Pages industry has maintained its strong core, the number of lookups is clearly moving online. So go the lookups, so go the advertisers.

We can certainly do better than the newspaper sites by making our content available freely (as all YP publishers do), and the better our depth of content, the more usage we are likely to drive.

Newspaper Publishers: Don't Make a Bad Situation Worse, Part 1