Friday, December 31, 2004

$57 million Yellow Pages black eye

YP Corp. Announces Fiscal 2004 Results

YP Corp, a Mesa, AZ company that operates an online Yellow Pages directory announced that they "earned" revenues of $57 million for the year.

YP "sells" directory advertising through a cleverly disguised direct mail system. YP mails out "checks" of $3.57 or some other small amount. Because anyone can use the walking fingers logo and can claim to be "THE Yellow Pages", the checks appear to be legitimate.

The fine print on the back and in the attached mailer specifies that the depositer of the check is agreeing to allow YP Corp to deduct $30-$40 per month for directory advertising.

The depositor also has unwittingly signed up for a dial-up internet access account.

YP Corp has successfully passed an FTC investigation and has been accepted as members to the leading Yellow Pages industry associations.

In my opinion, what they are doing is misleading and deceptive. I urge any business who receives a mailing from this or any other deceptive Yellow Pages publisher to contact their state's attorney general and complain.

I believe in the value generated by Yellow Pages and Internet Yellow Pages advertising. My concern is that the businesses "advertising" with YP Corp. are not properly informed.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Lawyer Marketing Guy's 17 Failsafe Marketing Rules

Kerry Randall, author of the best book on Yellow Pages advertising, has 17 marketing rules posted on his new, mucho-cool web site.

Here they are, but check out his web site for tons more information.

The Lawyer Marketing Guy's Seventeen Failsafe Marketing Rules

#1 Understand Who Buys Your Stuff

* Understand who buys your stuff. Business people? Other lawyers? Consumers?

* Define your audience from every possible perspective: socio-economic, geographic, image-sensitivity, age, risk-sensitivity, etc.

* If your firm provides services to more than one group, design unique marketing strategies (messages and delivery vehicles) for each group.

#2 Define and Target Your Audience

* Before you design any marketing communication know who wants or needs your services; know your potential customers intimately.

* Design your communications to meet the needs and desires of your potential customers.

* Speak to only one customer at a time.

* Buy media that reaches your target audience, not media that reaches the largest number of people.

#3 Understand the Difference Between What you Offer and What People Buy

* You offer services; people buy solutions to their problems. (Proctor and Gamble sells shampoo to people who want clean hair.)

* Go deeper. (People want clean hair because...)

* People buy perception, not reality.

* Express your services in terms of what people buy (security, confidence, experience, value, likelihood of success, understanding, tax-savings, etc.).

#4 Define Your Unique Market Position

* Why should somebody hire you rather than your competition? Be realistic.

* Brand your unique market position ("the insider," "always here," "the lawyers' lawyer").

* Find ways to communicate your unique market position in an irresistible fashion.

#5 Know Your Resources

* How much money do you have to invest in marketing? How much time do you have? Allocate your resources to achieve the maximum return on investment for your marketing programs.

* If you have more money than time, hire a consultant with a track record of success and give her a budget. Step out of the way and monitor results.

* If you have more time than money, pursue marketing programs that are time-heavy and money-light. (Direct contact, seminars and workshops, networking, volunteering, public relations, practice brochures, publishing, trade services, etc.)

#6 Lead Your Marketing with the Highest ROI Vehicle

* Of the hundreds of marketing vehicles, which one offers possibility for the highest return on your marketing investment? Invest in the highest-ROI vehicle first. Only after you have saturated your highest-ROI vehicle should you move along to your second-highest-ROI vehicle.

* Monitor and modify frequently. Any time your ROI slips, adjust (your message or delivery mechanism). After adjusting, if you don't see a return to high ROI, withdraw your funding and invest in the next highest ROI vehicle. Review frequently.

#7 Design Your Marketing Around Problems and Solutions

* People hire lawyers to solve problems, or to prevent a problem from occurring. Design your marketing so that it is clear . . . you solve problems.

* In print advertising, use the headline to present a problem. In the subhead, provide the solution.

#8 Be Faithful to Your Unique Voice

* Once you have created your unique place in the market, stick with it: actively and intentionally grow your brand. Remember, people buy things (including services) because of their uniqueness, not because they are like other things.

* When you stand apart, you get noticed. (Don't follow others.)

#9 Make Yourself Easily Accessible

* Create an image of warmth and availability. (Too many law firms create images that focus on prestige and tradition. Granite walls may create the image that you've "made it," but if those walls get between you and your potential clients, your marketing will have to work a lot harder to generate new clients.)

* Create marketing-only telephone lines for your office. Publish a unique number in all of your advertising so when that line rings, everybody knows it's a prospective client calling.

* Create a welcoming, we-are-here-to-please-you message both in your office and in all your marketing.

#10 Know Your Competition

* Your firm is not the only firm actively pursuing new customers. To win the lion's share of the pie, you must know what your competition is doing. You must be more aggressive. You must be smarter. To edge out the competition, you must know what they are doing, and you must play the marketing game better than they play the marketing game. When it comes to generating new clients, the second choice never gets the telephone call.

#11 Keep Egos and Marketing Separate from Each Other

* Your marketing is not about you; it is about what you can do for potential clients better than anybody else.

* If you create a marketing message that makes you look good, throw it away. Even Charlie knows people don't want tuna with good tastes.

#12 Don't Design Marketing Communications to which You Think You Might Respond

* You are not your potential client. Your potential clients don't think like you think. They don't even like the same food you like! Don't get caught in the trap of thinking that if you like a marketing message, potential clients will like it too.

* Don't design an ad layout or direct mail piece so you will like it. Too many truly great marketing pieces have been left on graphic artists' tables in favor of less powerful pieces because the client liked the lesser piece, and did not see or understand the value of the powerful piece.

* Don't look at your marketing messages through your eyes. Take your marketing messages out to others for their opinions. (If you take your marketing messages to your staff or to your spouse for "more objective" opinions, you will get more and varied opinions, none of which will be much more valuable than your own. The only person whose opinion counts is the potential clients'. Don't ask your wife what flavor of ice cream the kid standing on the street corner likes the most. You may love your wife and your staff, but they don't know what flavor of ice cream that kid likes any more than you know. Ask the kid.)

#13 Don't Buy Statistics

* Most people who sell advertising have compelling statistics that demonstrate that buying their advertising vehicle is a prudent choice. Ignore these statistics; they mislead. If you need to rely on statistics, get them from an unbiased source.

* Statistics are not clients. (Nobody has 1.9 children.)

#14 Tell the Truth

* Always.

#15 Adopt a Winning Attitude

* The return you get on your marketing investment is influenced by your attitude. Create and maintain a great outlook every time you participate in building content, designing marketing material, or buying media. If you discover you have a bad outlook on a day you have scheduled yourself to work on marketing, reschedule.

* Go all out, as though you are designing your future You are.

* Plan to win. Big.

#16 Never Advertise From Fear of Loss

* Advertising decisions that are motivated by fear ("some other firm will get these clients if I don't advertise here") will almost definitely result in poor returns.

* Advertising decisions that are motivated by possible gain tend to produce gain.

#17 Sell Only the Best

* If you decided to sell vacuum cleaners door-to-door, wouldn't you research to find the best-value, best-performing vacuum cleaner on the market, and then get a job with that firm? Your advertising will always reflect your beliefs about your firm. If you don't believe you can offer the best value and performance, your advertising will reflect that.

* If you can't offer value and performance, change.

If you abide by these seventeen time-tested marketing principles, your marketing cannot stray too far from success.

YELLOW PAGES SCAM ALERT! - - Business Yellow Pages - Business Yellow Pages

My wife's business received a letter from Telcom Directories indicating "Final Notice". It contained an advertising order for us to confirm our listing information for the low, low annual rate of $187.00.

I did a little checking and they claim to distribute 300,000 copies of their directories (3 titles). They have a west, midwest and southeast publication. 300,000 copies might sound like a lot, but to put it in perspective, TransWestern Publishing, my employer, covers only about 8% of the US with its 345 directories. We print and distribute over 25 million copies.

300,000 (if true) is totally insignificant.

I called their toll free number and requested copies of their directories. I'll let you know when they arrive.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


Sometimes we make things to hard. Here are some simple things you can
do to boost your sales in the new year. Make it a new year’s
resolution to implement one of these ideas each week during the month
of January.

1. Coach your service technicians to be friendly. Homeowners remark
again and again how much they like friendly technicians.

2. Give everyone in your company a business card. Technicians should
present them at the start of a service call. People save business

3. Give technicians photo ID badges. Using equipment from your office
supply store, it’s simple to create photo ID badges to clip on a

4. Place mirrors by the call taker’s phone. People can hear a smile.

5. Collect email addresses and send your customers email newsletters.
Fill the newsletter with items that will interest your readers (hint:
this is not news about your company). Include Internet-only specials.

6. Take digital images of your customers and your work to add credence
to their testimonials.

7. Follow up on every service call to see how you performed. Follow up
to collect information and to identify future sales opportunities.

8. Give your technicians a supply of breath spray and spray on scent.
This is especially important for smokers.

9. Present add-ons and bundles on every repair and quote. Tonight I
was upsold by CiCiCiCiizza. Last week, while Christmas shopping, two
retailers sold me additional items at the cash register. They were the
only two who even asked.

10. Remind people that you are “family owned.”

11. Add your website to every piece of literature you use.

12. PapePaperclipusiness card to every bill you pay, personally and

13. Give a business card to the manager of every business you patronize
and ask for their business.

14. Encourage your employees to place company magnets or stickers on
the backs of personal vehicles.

15. Make your fax cover page into a marketing flyeflyernclude a special
fax promotion.

16. In your email, include a signature promoting your business.

17. Write an article for the local paper.

18. Send out a press release. Send one every time you hire a new
employee. Send one every time you reach a milestone. Send one every
time you perform a job of significance. Send one with seasonal
consumer information.

19. Keep customers better informed about the status of their dispatch.
Give them an ETA and revise it. Have you ever had a flight delayed?
It’s far more tolerable to be given a departure time, almost any time,
rather than TBA.

20. Guarantee something you already do. In what situations will you
give money back? If you size something incorrectly, will you
upsiupsize for free? Do your customers know? Tell them.

21. Create a unique selling proposition (USP) that states succinctly
and lucidly what you do well, better than anyone else. Include this
with all marketing material.

22. Boost your search engine placement by including a page of local
links. Be sure to ask everyone you link to for a return link (to the
page of links if nowhere else).

23. Use bounce back coupons. When you do business with someone, offer
them a coupon for a dollars off discount from a future purchase.

24. Wish your customers a happy new year. On Thursday or Friday of
this week, call your most important customers for no other reason than
to wish them a safe, happy, and prosperous new year. It will make you
stand out and it will generate business. If you serve the residential
market, have your staff call a random sample of your customers. They
make think you’re a little odd, but they will also remember the call
and possibly talk about it.

25. Ask people to refer you. They don’t know you want referrals. Tell
them. By the way, please refer your associates, friends, neighbors,
and family to Comanche Marketing (www.wwwaComancheMarketing) and pop an
email to the air conditioning company and plumbing company you use,
telling them about the Service RounRoundtablew.wwwvServiceRoundtable).
See how easy it is?

© 2004 Matt Michel

Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
Free subscriptions are available at:

www.wwwvserviceroundtable -- click on the Comanche Marketing tab

Memo To Newspapers: Online Yellow Pages Are Key

Memo To Newspapers: Online Yellow Pages Are Key
Erin Joyce

This article can be found online at the following location:

Online classifieds and job listing sites continue eating into
bread-and-butter classified listings, but there's plenty newspapers can
to find new economics alongside popular sites such as Craigslist,
to a new report.

Called "Competing with Craig: Strategies and tactics
for battling Craigslist and its counterparts," the report by research
and consulting firm Classified Intelligence
said Craigslist has cost newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area $50
million to $65
million in employment advertising revenue. The free community Web site
more than 1 billion page views each month.

The study said employment advertising accounts for about 19 percent of
newspapers' revenue, and focused on the impact of popular listing
communities such as Craigslist on Bay Area newspapers. Overall,
advertising represents a $28 billion to $30 billion business (combined)
the United States, including $16 billion in daily newspapers, according
the study, which used data from the Newspaper Association of America in
compiling its figures.

It's no secret that newspapers have been getting hurt by all sorts of
new online classified services in the past few years, said Peter
founding principal of Classified Intelligence. But the growth and
popularity of sites like Craigslist, as well as job sites such as and HotJobs, doesn't mean it's "game over" for newspaper
publishers either, he told

And it's not like they're sitting still anyway. After all, is owned by three major newspaper publishers: USA
publisher Gannett (Quote, Chart); Knight-Ridder (Quote, Chart), which
owns the Miami Herald; and Tribune Company (Quote, Chart), parent
of The Chicago Tribune.

"Newspapers have a lot of opportunity in their markets. They have to
understand the nature of [their] business is changing, and they have to
change with it if they want to be the marketplace for their

Zollman said community publishers in smaller to medium markets have
opportunities to seize in order to stem the flow of classified dollars
are heading for online recruitment sites.

For one, "stop thinking like a newspaper," the report said, and pay
attention to the hybrid classifieds and Yellow Pages-style listings
online. "Yellow-page publishers are moving into classifieds; dot-com
classifieds are growing, and many broadcasters are improving their
classified offerings," Zollman said. "As the business becomes even more
competitive than it has been, consumers will benefit from more efficient
marketplaces and advertisers will find improved services. Only
publishers who don't keep up with the changes will lose."

The shift is well under way. Zollman pointed to Sweden and Australia,
where leading publishers of Yellow Pages directories have purchased
post companies similar to Craigslist.

In the United States, publisher Gannett Company
recently acquired HomeTown Communications Network, which offers online
listing services along with newspapers, telephone directories, shoppers
niche publications in Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky.

Hearst, another major
U.S. publisher, is pursuing Yellow Pages listings and services, such as
purchase of White Directory Publishers of Buffalo, N.Y., the
independent yellow pages publisher in the United States.

"It's starting to become a bit of a merger of what's in Yellow Pages and
what's in a classified ad," Zollman said. "There is not a distinction
there used to be. Suddenly you have a situation where Yellow Pages can
publish classifieds. Newspapers offer Yellow Pages. That trend will
definitely continue in 2005."

The 57-page report offered a lengthy list of
strategies for any player in the sector in order to help them develop
effective products for auto, employment, real estate and merchandise
advertising. But it also offered newspapers direct suggestions:

* Immediately begin offering free online-only classifieds, at minimum in
every category outside of real estate, recruitment, autos and rentals.
Strongly consider making all
categories free online for the next few years.

* Create a simple self-service method for individuals to post ads
Rebuild a vital marketplace
online and you will make money from that marketplace in many ways going
forward. Plus, the margins on that business will be breathtaking.

* Throw significant energy at building easy tools for business
classified customers, auto
dealers, etc., to simplify their use of your online classifieds. In this
way, expand your existing advantage over Craigslist.

* Promote the free online ads like crazy in your print products and
elsewhere. It doesn't do
any good to launch something and not talk about it. Newspapers
refuse to promote their online efforts.

* Strongly encourage growth in your online merchandise categories. Your
readers should
expect to find anything they want in your classifieds. That guarantees
they'll view you as central.
Business follows the buyers. Make sure you are the prime destination for

* Stop worrying about your own online unit eroding print classifieds.
Print will erode as
online grows; this is an unstoppable force. By focusing on dominating
market online,
you ensure that a vibrant high-margin business will be yours in the end.

* Offer RSS (define) feeds on classifieds that are selectable and
highly targetable, so [customers] receive ads they want while not
material that's useless. Post ads immediately as they are posted or
in by sellers. Why wait until an overnight feed?

Although there may not be a lot to celebrate in the rise of online job
listing sites, "newspapers still have distinct competitive advantages,"
Zollman added. "If they take advantage of what they have, there are
opportunities. It's not like newspapering is going to die [from online

"The reality is that newspapers are still a good business, but facing
very severe challenges, and not only from Craigslist, but from hundreds
other sites."

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Search Marketing Firms Consolidation

The rapid expansion of search marketing means that companies with a proprietary technology or solid customer base will be hugely attractive acquisition targets. iProspect had a little of both, but still the market is extremely fragmented and has plenty of room for new entrants for now.

Want to start a business and become wealthy in 3-5 years? Build an SEM/SEO firm and scale as quickly as possible. Flip the firm as consolidation heats even further.

Here's the story . . .

Aegis Group, the UK-based holding company that owns Carat, today said it's acquiring iProspect, a provider of search marketing services; the deal is estimated at $50 million. The move is yet another sign that big marketing services companies are serious about keeping search services in-house, and are no longer leaving potential revenues derived from offering those services at the table.

JupiterResearch estimates that search advertising and related services will outpace other segments of online advertising growing from $2.6 billion this year to $5.5 billion in 2009. Search accounts for more than 30 percent of online advertising spending in the United States.

iProspect will live within Aegis' Isobar unit, Carat's newly formed global network of digital agencies. The Isobar network will deploy iProspect's proprietary bid management technology within its U.S. agencies Carat Interactive and Freestyle Interactive, and is also expected to deploy globally. Isobar will run the 85-person iProspect as a stand-alone brand, according to Sarah Fay, president of Isobar in the United States.

Carat Interactive has offered search services to its clients for some time, 'We have a very good search capability through Ron Belanger's group and we fully intend to continue to help that group grow,' Fay says. 'It's not so much that anything was missing, but we've done exhaustive technology reviews for pay-per-click tools and we have not landed on any one provider that does everything we need. We see iProspect's iSEBA [iProspect Search Engine Bidding Agent] as providing what we need.' Carat Interactive has been outsourcing paid inclusion services for its clients; it provides organic search services on its own.

The iProspect tool enables pay-per-click search advertising, bid management, campaign tracking, and reporting. 'Th"

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Now Telstra will tell you where to get off - Business -

The Australian Yellow Pages (a true monolopy in every sense of the word) is perhaps the most forward thinking in terms of combining various businesses so that they can become the defacto source for commerce (electronic and telephone initiated) down under. The acquisition of a maps provider is only the latest in a long series of acquisitions. I believe that these Aussies could teach the smarty-pants operators (myself included) a thing or two.

Now Telstra will tell you where to get off - Business - "They have your phone number, your address; now they want to tell you where to go and how to get there. Telstra yesterday gobbled up another source of daily information for Australians, announcing it had bought Universal Publishers, owners of the Gregory's and UBD street directories.

Telstra is the only company that can make money out of the names and addresses of Australians via the White and Yellow Pages, and its specialised online directories. It is also a heavy hitter in classified advertising, following its purchase of the Trading Post earlier this year. And it is still majority owned by the Federal Government.

Now it has entrenched its position in the map market, taking over Universal's street directories, maps, tour guides and atlases, along with extensive urban and regional digital mapping data, all for less than $50 million.

Income from the street directories represents a drop in the bucket for Telstra, which makes millions of dollars a day from its growing portfolio of telecommunications companies, media and advertising businesses. What it is really interested in is the digital data.

With almost a million new cars driving on Australian roads every year, interest in global positioning systems for car navigation is booming. From here on, when drivers download street maps for their GPS, they will pay Telstra.

Mobile phones, another market Telstra dominates, are also set to play a new role as portable navigation gadgets. If Australia's rapid adoption of technology is anything to go by, there could be plenty more money in mapping.

Telstra's latest foray into the media and information market came as the Treasurer, Peter Costello, admitted yesterday that the Government's ownership had not prevented Telstra from abusing its market power.

'I would actually say if the Government has majority ownership and is also the regulat"

Thursday, December 16, 2004 - Yellow Pages wins directory war

It looks like the folks at Superpages have realized just how difficult it is to be an independent publisher in the face of serious competition.

I know Roger Abbiss, who runs the Toronto Red Pages, and he's a very scrappy entrepreneur who kept Verizon from establishing the independent foothold.

The bottom line is that if you can't offer a clearly articulated superior value proposition to potential advertisers and users, you can't build a directory business.

I also know the folks from Yellow Pages Group in Canada, and in my opinion, they are some of the sharpest directory publishers. I don't think that Verizon had a prayer against these two.

- Yellow Pages wins directory war
: "Yellow Pages wins directory war
Competitor SuperPages retreats to its western birthplace
500 jobs face axe as company abandons national strategy


SuperPages Canada, publisher of phone directories for Telus Corp., confirmed plans yesterday to abandon its national expansion strategy and close down operations from Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia.

The dramatic retreat, which re-establishes a monopoly for rival directory Yellow Pages in Ontario and most of Quebec, will leave 500 people on the cutting board less than two weeks before Christmas.

As reported yesterday in the Star, SuperPages Canada had been struggling to make headway in eastern markets currently dominated by Yellow Pages.

The company said yesterday it will continue to provide a national online directory but will discontinue publication of 32 telephone directories, including phone books for Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, Regina, Halifax and Moncton. It will be left with about 95 directories, predominately in B.C. and Alberta.

In southern Ontario alone, SuperPages will be cancelled in 18 cities or regions. In a news release, company president John Millar said the focus now is on core markets in western Canada, as well as eastern Quebec.

The Star attempted to get more explanation of the timing and reasoning behind the restructuring, particularly so close to the holiday season, but Millar refused an interview.

Between 150 and 200 people in the company's Ontario operation, headquartered in Mississauga, were herded into a room yesterday at noon and divisional managers from outside the region broke the news.

In total, the company is axing 38 per cent of its workforce. 'You're talking about a company that really ran without a game plan,' said Dan Perdue, one of those who lost their jobs in the sales department for the Toronto "

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Advocate: State, SBC settle Yellow Pages case

The Advocate: State, SBC settle Yellow Pages case

SBC really did a disservice to their loyal advertisers in Fairfield County. The advertisers were clearly deceived in the attempt to boost revenue in a new directory.

After the advertisers were hooked, SBC published all of the smaller directories they told the advertisers that were being discontinued.

When one of the most prominent publishers in the world stoops to such levels, it casts a black mark on the entire industry.

The sad part is that many of these advertisers refuse to promote their businesses, and the settlements will be a pittance compared to the damage inflicted.

Interestingly, this reinforces the value of community scoped directories as valuable alternatives to larger directories covering too much territory.

Small Advertisers - 0
Yellow Pages Industry - 0
SBC - 0

Nobody benefited other than a few local reps who hit their sales quotas.

Deutsche Bank - Equity Research

(Dick's note: in my opinion, the analysis provided by Paul at Deutsche
Bank is usually very well informed and factual. Verizon has been
suffering in the competitive markets it entered over the last few
years. Hey, competitive directory marketing is tough. The VZ brass
knows that they own perhaps the strongest directory publishing company
in the US. If they want the cash for growth markets, I could see them
selling off big chunks of this egg-laying goose.)


VZ's SuperPages has been aggressively launching new books into DEX's
and RHD's markets over the last three years. VZ's potential bid for
Sprint may create the need to raise cash, which then could lead to
the sale or partial sale of SuperPages. We think any new owner of
SuperPages would likely scale back the launch of new competitive
books and pull-back further than the already announced markets.


Of the 44 competitive books launched since 2002, around 14 books
were introduced into DEX markets, representing (we est..) 41% of
DEX's revs and 8 of its top 10 markets. VZ launched books into 8 of
RHD's top 30 markets, representing approx. 19% of RHD revs. VZ has
already announced the retreat from 10 markets, including Atlanta,
Cleveland, Cincinnati and other markets in Ohio, Alabama, Kentucky
and Georgia.


Two major obstacles exist before this potential deal becomes a
positive for the YP industry, in our view. First, our telecom
analyst, Viktor Shvets, believes there are high regulatory hurdles
to a Verizon-Sprint combination. Second, cash could be raised from
selling local access lines (which has been discussed) instead of


We think the newsflow will be incrementally positive for the YP
companies, as they continue to build out their online presence,
while the incremental news for the newspapers is likely negative. We
now slightly prefer RHD to DEX due to its cheaper valuation, 7.7x
2005E EV/EBITDA (less NPV of tax shield) versus 8.0x. Also, the
expiration of DEX's lockup agreement is a month away on January 17th.

For more information, please click on the attached document.

Paul Ginocchio, CFA
Deutsche Bank Equity Research
(212) 250-8463 -

For additional Deutsche Bank research, visit our web site: