Saturday, September 23, 2006

Zig vs. Zag

At the Kelsey Group's Directory Driven Commerce 2006 conference this week in Los Angeles, Seig Fisher, CEO and founder of Valley Yellow Pages articulated his company's strategy to the chagrin of the technorati in the audience.

See, Seig is old school. When I say old school, I mean one-room school house with a stern school marm teaching the three R's using a coal-oil lamp.

Valley Yellow Pages (which is one of the largest independent Yellow Pages publishers in the US) has a unique Internet strategy. They ignore the Internet and focus solely on their print directory business.

When every other publisher has tried at least one internet product set, Valley sticks ink on dead trees.

AT&T, Valley's largest competitor, paid roughly $100 million for the domain name Meanwhile, Valley's print books grow year after year and the profits roll in.

While I don't find this strategy particularly exciting or leading edge, it makes money. Loads of money.

The print strategy will probably not carry Seig for the next two decades, but by that time, a company with an Internet strategy will have paid through the nose for the deep market penetration that Valley has achieved.

See, it's all about picking a strategy and sticking to it.

That is one of the toughest business strategies of all.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have had a similar experience with our own employment newspaper company. When we started it in 2001, there was a lot of pressure to get on the internet, even though we didn't have anything unique and different. Instead, we concentrated on building a branded newspaper that takes our competitors by surprise. It is called Jobdig. Not too much like the YP business, but I am very interested in the directory business, and have been for years. Keep up the good advice and work!
~GL Hoffman

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoying your blog...I recently found a directory site that allows users to dictate what is said about their listings. at least we can control what is said about our companies now.

8:45 AM  

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