The Future of Print Yellow Pages Will Be Great HyperLocal Content via Subscription


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What must yellow page publishers do to evolve or fail to do to die faster?

How can Yellow Pages print products evolve:

– Cease publishing free business listing in all forms (ie: white and yellow)

People no longer need to reference a printed book for brands and companies they have familiarity with. White pages are being cut from the business models of many print publishers, proving that these companies realize that consumers will search from mobile devices or Facebook sites for brands and companies they like. The known market references in print do not help consumers communicate with companies they have an existing relationship with.

– Directional media needs to retire the annual distribution cycles, they are no longer effective in Todays environment.

Publishers have manipulated distribution dates and long-lifed books (13 months instead of 12) in order to be the freshest and most up to date product on the street. Why continue annual distribution if consumers will discard your product for the most recent one? Yellow pages competition or fragmentation (which was once a monopoly by telephone companies) with independent and new rural publishers has made the challenge of being the latest information a near impossible task.

– Print publishers need to build a subscription-based model, much like website blogs and email marketers do.

Opt out will kill the yellow pages. Homeowners associations begin pushing residents to opt out sites by educating them on latest opt out initiatives and municipal publishing fines, restrictions, and movements to curb waste and litter from books on doorsteps and in yards.

Stop selling on the fear of not being represented or losing your position. These fear tactics do not work. Businesses have more choices. You want to continue to ruin your industries reputation with these sort of sleazy sales tactics?

Maybe the subscription business model is the http://www.yellowpagesoptout.com site?

– Books need to streamline ad sizes.

DOUBLE DOUBLE TRUCK ads that once started as full pages but grew to allow publishers new opportunities to increase rates, a broken promise to size and seniority commitments. Why? For the sake of corporate profits and an effort to generate revenue to curb decline all at the expense of usability.

Phonebooks need to become hyper-locally distributed via the USPS.

If directory companies choose to avoid the stereotypes of being environmental polluters, they might want to figure out another way to get doors into consumers homes.

Using the postal service instead of Illegal Immigrant labor to distribute books would be both cost effective and socially responsible.

Books need to be hyper-locally targeted based on neighborhoods and not cities. In rural markets citywide distribution works. In urban areas, much like Dallas, books need to be neighborhood targeted. For instance, Dallas has a very affluent area known as Park Cities, which includes Highland Park, University Park, and Uptown.

Phonebooks need to become creative directional magazines with dynamic content.

This is the big one. Why are brands not in books? If you remove the worthless “listing information” and replace that with great brand sponsors, such as Crest Toothpaste sponsoring the Dentist heading of the book or Scott’s brand fertilizer sponsoring the lawn or landscape heading, publishers can find new revenue. Something similar has been done with Bose Home Radio ads by the National Sales Channels at many publishers.

Why don’t yellow pages offer  businesses the ability to contribute columns to directories that help consumers during certain seasons? Of course the publishers could also create the content and allow businesses to “sponsor” these sections.

Why doesn’t the phone book offer real coupons, but not shoved out of sight and out of mind into the back or front of the book? If you make the largest ad a single page, why not include coupon codes inside of ads with special offers, including web addresses to a publisher maintained group buying site.

Yellow Pages Publishers need to continue to include mobile barcode scanners and QR codes

Help consumers (or subscribers) use the book with a mobile device, such as the ability to connect to business social profiles (twitter, facebook, foursquare etc) and also claim coupon or promotional codes.

How can the Yellow Pages die even faster?

Phonebooks worked because lists of local businesses and offerings from different providers were not available via web, mobile, TV, or socially.

Now that yellow pages no longer has the most up to date and relevant information available on local products and services, thus enabling consumers to make the best choice or decision, they need to evolve.

Content is the next internet evolution. This same content could create new life in print products as well. The yellow pages have always been a quick reference, but lack the details to help consumers educate themselves on how to work with local merchants and protect themselves. Some publishers copied gimmicks from internet companies like Service Magic who offered a “ServiceGuarantee” for consumers who purchase from certain merchants. While this is a great differentiator, there are many other ideas and strategies that can also be adopted from internet marketers to employ in traditional print mediums.

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