SuperMedia and Dex Merge 2012

August 22, 2012

Dex One Corporation and SuperMedia Inc. today announced that their Boards of Directors have approved a definitive agreement under which Dex One and SuperMedia will combine in a stock-for-stock merger of equals, creating a national provider of social, local and mobile marketing solutions through direct relationships with local businesses.

Upon closing of the transaction, Dex One shareholders are expected to own approximately 60 percent and SuperMedia shareholders are expected to own approximately 40 percent of the combined company.

Two ugly companies with a dim future get married and make one big ugly company with an even uglier future.

Why? It was planned years ago from the getgo. It is no longer a rumor.

Idearc and RH Donnelley both were loaded with debt. Both companies went bankrupt. The Paulson Hedge Fund has a stake in both companies. Both companies experience naked short sellers attacking the value of the business and manipulating the stock price. So much in common it makes you think they are perfect for eachother.

Idearc (one of the leftover marketing names from the “Verizon” brand development research) was doomed from the day Ivan (CEO of Verizon) decided to spin the company off with 9 billion in debt, without the assets or collateral to back it up. Idearc’s incompetent management team has no loyalty to the hardworking people (and teachers union) who invested in Verizon blue chip stock and subsequently lost it in Idearc stock. But Hedgefunds like Henry Paulson shorted the company and them bought both Dex and SuperMedia stock after bankruptcy. It was perfectly timed 2 years after SEC rules of course. No IRS penalties for Ivan! Just a bunch of unhappy business owners who have a great reason to hate the yellow pages.

It is this sort of Crony capitalism that sparked the Tea Party Revolution… But we at Idearc remembered Scott Klein the CEO ranting about his love of the Hope And Change Chicago politicians. I prefer supporting small businesses like the ones I have helped for the last decade. They despise this marriage.

Come to think of it, maybe it would be good if they reduced the saturation distribution business altogether?

yellow pages future

When I left SuperMedia in 2009 they still had over 80 sales reps in the local Dallas sales office. Last I heard they are down to less than 10 reps. The company has lost over 22% of its business year over year.

This is a move to keep the stock above $1 per share and avoid being listed only on the over the counter “pink sheets.”

Real small business online marketing takes a less “protectionist” 12 month contract product centric focus and a more holistic transparent client-side strategy that focuses on “content marketing.”


The Final Nail is In The Coffin, Bye Bye to Greater Dallas

July 27, 2012

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SuperMedia, the formerly bankrupt publisher of the Verizon Yellow Pages, will announce what will likely be another double digit revenue decline in print advertising during the company’s quarterly earnings call today July 27th.

What the company will likely not be sharing is the decision to discontinue what was once the most profitable directory in the company’s publishing footprint. The Greater Dallas Yellow Pages will not have a 2013 edition. Rumor is that the company is no longer making money printing the once ginormous brick of recycled paper waste material, which was once the most used local search tool in North Texas.

Am I heart broken? No! Besides today being my birthday, I am overjoyed that they finally came to their senses.

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Who still uses the yellow pages?
Since phone companies no longer have a monopoly on printing books and thanks to Google, smart phone technologies, and the advancement of online search and online content, Dallas area consumers no longer need a bulky yellow pages to find information. The phone books that still receive ad impressions are likely hyper local books in more rural non-urban markets, like the ones “Idearc Media” (the former pre-bankruptcy name of SuperMedia) bailed on.

Word is the company will continue to push digital offerings and more failed attempts to sell advertising via channel partners while failing to create digital assets of its own. They have repeatedly outsourced all attempts at “quality online marketing” not limited to even include the advertising for the yellow pages brand itself. Don’t expect the company to hire hundreds of copywriters and begin offering content marketing like my company SMB SEO.

Back in 2009, I had a meeting scheduled with Dave Bethea, former Executive Vice President of Sales for SuperMedia, to discuss ways to improve the company’s online offerings. I had been helping clients with online marketing and SEO for almost an entire decade. Dave was a good friend of the company’s CEO at the time Scott Klein. Dave and Scott both came from a background of selling materials and fasteners for the building industry. Nails, fasteners, and whatnot. In my opinion Dave should not have been put in charge of running an organization like the Verizon Yellow Pages. He had zero experience with a consultative sales approach and it showed. I cancelled my meeting with Dave and shortly thereafter left the company.

The discontinuation of the Dallas Book represents an official changing of the guard and further proves that my concerns were justified back in 2009.

The reasons why consumers don’t use the yellow pages has little to do with the fact that the yellow pages abused the power and influence it had on small to medium-sized businesses. Constant annual rate hikes. Penalties for decreasing budgets. While other companies protected the customer base with affordable ads that brought a rate of return, the yellow pages disregarded the rules of the marketplace and repeatedly found ways to manipulate earnings. From selling customers ads they clearly could not afford, to 13 month long life publications and new double double truck seniority ads, and countless other gimmicks and tricks squeezing more revenue while providing less and less value to clients.

I have always maintained that it was wiser to keep a client then be forced to replace one. When a publisher loses a customer due to overselling or errors a publisher might miss revenue from that particular enterprise permanently, sooner or later your new business opportunity dries up and you have managed alienate your potential customer base.

What the yellow pages did was simply getting a significant stake in the SMB profit margin. Today business owners are not extorted out of revenue by a local directional search monopoly.
Google offers affordable pay per click (PPC) ads that fit most budgets and combined with analytics and dynamic call tracking offers an awesome value to businesses. Organic search marketing also concentrates on content contribution, brand authority, and share of voice vs “who has the deepest pockets” to buy the biggest ad.

RIP Greater Dallas, you will not be missed. Businesses thank you for helping them grow over the years… Now GO AWAY!!!

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SEO does not always mean the same thing

April 28, 2012

A wise man once said that “all marketers are liars.”

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This couldn’t be further from the truth. It surprises me that business owners are still not savvy about online marketing. Many don’t see the need for a local search marketing strategy because they think, “only the big companies with huge pocketbooks” advertise aggressively online. They are the companies always at the top dominating search results. Sure this can be done to some extent by sinking yourself deeper into credit card debt with Google Adwords, but why keep going back to the World’s Largest Auction (bigger than Ebay!)

Organic search results get over 1/2 of the click volume.

Most small businesses don’t understand the concepts and strategies of content marketing. Then again, most SEO services and agencies tend to focus on the on-page website changes, business may or may not deploy a blog strategy depending on whether the website is built in a blog style CMS like WordPress. Unfortunately for businesses, they often can only afford a cheap SEO agency who typically fails to use content for building backlinks. I say you can’t afford not to. Stop going back to the auction! Organic and local complements PPC domination and also stretches a budget with recurring revenues from search engine result page share of voice and real estate.

I once SEO’d a “bookie service” website that took up 5 of the first 7 results with multiple websites and different business names

Some SEO firms optimize for Google Places and setup local listings, but do they include accounts with the data centers UBL and Localeze listings? Do they provide manual local listing optimization that focuses on creating as many local citations (mentions of your business name, address, and number?)

I recommend finding a transparent and holistic firm that focuses on a diverse approach to SEO, not just moving things around on a page and changing a few settings (how often you gonna change a Page Title?)

If someone calls and offers you SEO service you have every right to be skeptical. After all, “all marketers are liars” and SEOs are the biggest out there.

I have always said the minute you change a page title you are “gaming” Google.

Just stay away from link builders who use non transparent or blackhat SEO methods. While the potential short term business may be good for your wallet, getting kicked out of the search results or worse de-indexed is not something you can easily overcome.

I do recommend considering separate IPs and crazy aggressive tactics for local search niche domains though.

Hiring an outsourcing company or yellow pages type company for your online marketing is just crazy. Everything is proprietary and you won’t own a thing.

They should stick to what they do best…

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How Much Has Yellow Pages Usage Really Decreased?

November 21, 2011

News is that SuperMedia, the company that prints the Verizon Yellow Pages, is planning to discontinue publishing the Greater Dallas Yellow Pages after 2012. The reason for doing so is declined usage and very high costs to print and distribute.

The decline of yellow pages is not news to consumers, but tell that to the folks buying and selling the ads and you will get mixed opinions.

The companies are laying off headcount to save expenses, while investors are seeing -20% year over year decline in ad sales and little results since Google moved Marissa Mayer to Local Search User Experence years ago.

The big companies that are buying the big ads want you the smaller business to think that it generates a nice profit.

It only helps them squeeze you more, just like big PPC bids.

One of my clients actually said that he believes he breaks even on his ads but hoped they made his competitors keep spending to keep up.

For most small companies generating a profit is a challenge. The smallest margin is significant. Money wasted on ads that do not perform have a bigger impact on the smaller operations than the companies with the double double truck plus size ads.

So, how much has usage if the yellow pages really declined?

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More than 55%. The costs of the ads just took a little bit longer to come down the same. They still haven’t.

Might be why big banks and hedge fund guys like Paulson own stake in them, shorting the stock and playing the same game they did with home mortgages and derivatives.

The decrease in print distribution has even taken longer. In urban areas less than 20% of people will use the yellow pages for a local search. Mobile search via Google is the new phone book. You will see less and less big bulky books soon. SuperMedia and AT&T will begin focusing on rural market books once again. Day late if you ask me.

I expect SuperMedia to discontinue publishing other Metro area books as well as decrease distribution.

I do not expect them to share these new distribution or opt out of delivery numbers any time soon.

Btw, we are offering mobile sites that include a nice commission for my former media consultant coworkers.

Take a look at Lewisville Divorce Lawyers Mobile Website that my Dallas Internet Marketing Firm built.

Hammerle Finley used to spend big bucks on phone book ads. They are the small town general practice firm who made others spend big bucks. Hammerle probably doesn’t feel the same about what became of GTE Yellow Pages from the 90’s.

They are David to Goliath if you ask me.

Who uses the yellow pages?

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Why Paying a Monthly Retainer for Local SEO and PPC Makes Good Business Sense

November 16, 2011

In the old days you bought a display ad in the yellow pages to get calls from customers ready to buy.

These days you purchase a yellow pages ad so your established brand doesn’t lose potential phone calls to unknown and lesser quality brands who can afford the financing that the yellow pages offer. The bottom end churn for print YP is constant. Google doesn’t offer financing on pay-per-clicks and writers don’t finance content writing.

In 2002, 80% used the yellow pages to perform a local search. Today that number is less than 15% and phone book fragmentation (a way of looking at print competition) is at an all-time high.

Marketing dollar resource allocation has flipped over the years. The days of me giving Internet marketing advice to sell ads in phone books has been over for sometime.

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Businesses are struggling to dominate search the same way they dominated local search in the 90’s with big full-page and eventually double truck 2-page ads. The same style duopoly exists were you have a telco or main provider and second incumbent choice (AT&T + GTE/Verizon = Google + Bing/Yahoo Search Alliance.)

In the earlier days of search the businesses with names and domains that contained the product or service being offered including the city they served, such as “Dallas Auto Transmission LLC” naturally had an upper hand. It was easy to make a title tag match your business name. Optimization of a website required the efforts of a website coder and FTP access to the sites backend. SEO was all about meta-tags and links that were hard to come-by.

Today you will see:

  • 60,000 new websites will be added to the web
  • 2 million new videos added to YouTube
  • 1.6 million blog posts will be created (out of 150 million blogs)
  • 1.5 billion pieces of content will be added to Facebook
  • 200 million tweets will be tweeted on Twitter

Paid search ads with Google use to only costs pennies per click. Volume was low. Again things have changed. Paid search offers so much more than the past.

Things have gotten a bit more complex:
– mobile extensions
– local extensions
– site links
– retargeting
– promoted videos
– product feeds
– demographic targeting
– new channels of distribution
– new match types like modified broad match

It is easy to mistakenly dump hundreds of suggested keywords in a campaign and see quality scores never rise above a 4. Google makes it easy to spend your money or daily budget and target keyword searches via broad match types with non relevant ads. Buyer beware: You need an agency or consultant!

Great SEO starts with keyword research. Those keywords need to be put in a report and measures with rankings on search engines. You then need to create content, pages for the various keywords, both on your site and pointing to your site with anchor text. Social signals are also important. LoMoSo or local mobile social is the new Internet. NAP, or name address and number, mentions of your business are the key to local. This begins with data-center directory submission (the only real form of directory submission) which is not something you get from Outsourced India SEO providers.

Next, you must begin eating the elephant so-to-speak. Start with the low hanging fruit or keywords that have less competition and in many cases less volume. Quick rankings measured via Google Analytics as clicks. The short-tail competitive keywords take more offsite backlinks, more onsite content strategy, great NAP data, and the help of an experienced Internet marketer to reach success.

To build a successful Internet marketing campaign you need to have your SEO content strategy and PPC campaigns work together. PPC tells us what keywords drive impressions. Content marketing helps you rank for correlating keywords that you can add to your PPC Campaign and both help you test landing pages to perfection.

A SEO & PPC Monthly Retainer will allow you to gradually scale your efforts, rank for more keywords, and create great authoritative onsite content for your visitors. Mix in high volume with low competition keywords and you will monetize your efforts from the start.

Smb SEO’s retainer includes conversion optimization consulting, domain registration, quality hosting (not that slow GoDaddy hosting) and all the transparent reporting you need to make sure that you are not on a road that leads to nowhere. It also does not require a contract and the service is based on real-time and materials vs paying for the concept of SEO. You can only optimize a single page a couple of times before you must add new ones.

If this doesn’t sound like the services your “SEO company” provides, don’t walk…. RUN AWAY.

Call me at 214-267-9553 for a free ranking report and let’s see what is keeping you from making good business sense of your internet marketing.

Also, FYI, Tonight Google and Bing Representatives will Speak on “State of Search” at Dallas / Ft Worth Search Marketing Group…

Register at DFWSEM.org

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Why you should rank for longtail keyword terms – Case Study

August 21, 2011


I recently blogged about information regarding the death of an executive at the company I once worked for. My blog typically shows up in searches (SERPS) for keywords related to the company I once worked for, including the company name.

My web analytics show me how many searches from Google and with what keywords related to this tragedy ultimately resulted in clicks to my site. I thought that if I shared a post on the site I could help folks find the information they where looking for. This would also be an opportunity to understand how people search for information.

In my opinion this is often not the best of situations  to conduct research, but I guess internet marketers can sometimes learn a few SEO tips from these weird, unusual, or even tragic situations. Case in point, Michael Jackson searches and the QDF algorithm.

Query Deserves Freshness

 What do BP and Michael Jackson have in common? Michael Jackson’s death was one of the big events which brought the “Query Deserves Freshness” concept to the forefront.  If a news event is big enough you will see the search engine Google struggle to figure out what results to display for the widely searched fresh topic.

Great keyword research can quickly be learned from search phrases that are seeing rapid growth in query volume related to fresh topics.

Unfortunately for us the comment section of my blog was attacked by a disgruntled former employee of SuperMedia, someone named “Bob” who felt the need to use my site as a platform, grandstand, or podium soapbox to share his utter disgust towards the company this executive (and I once) worked for. I decided to hide the comments from Bob out of respect.

So first I would like to say that if you would like to pay your respects to John Hillrich, please visit the John Hillrich Memorial Guestbook here.

A recent comment on the post summarizes my thoughts on what happened, and subsequently what took place on my blog, and how the vast majority of us all feel about it.

To all who have expressed such kind words for our dear John Hillrich, please take the time to visit http://www.JohnHillrich.com where you’ll find his online obituary and guestbook which is the appropriate resource to express our condolences.

This current forum is stained with comments that should’ve never been allowed to publish, nor been  they hgiven attentionave. John’s friends / family should not have to read such filth, so let’s move these well wishes to http://www.JohnHillrich.com where his family can read them in peace.

Love you John Hillrich. My heart aches for your family, parents, and children. God’s peace be with you all.

I want to apologize for the rude comments. I have since removed them out of my respect for John’s friends and family.  My deepest condolences.

With that being said, I would like to share what people searched Google for to find my original blog post.

You will see some of the keywords have been removed below. This is not a complete list. I want you to pay attention to the “value” of the long-tail and how “unique” most people search. It is obvious that most people search a few widely used keywords and then the real “SEO value” is in the long-tail terms.

Read the rest of this entry »


SuperMedia executive murdered in Ontario California

August 17, 2011

I was just notified by a friend that a longtime Verizon Yellow Pages employee, John Hillrich, was shot and killed at the company’s Ontario California office by individuals in a black SUV.

Do you know what happened? Many people are searching for more information.

My condolences to his friends and family. Everybody stay safe.

More info:

Ontario police arrest 3 in slaying
Will Bigham, Staff Writer
Posted: 08/17/2011 02:09:04 PM PDT

Three people have been arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with a man’s fatal shooting Tuesday at a parking structure in Ontario, police said today. John Hillrich, 39, of Fontana was shot at about 2 p.m. at 3401 E. Centrelake Drive, and later died at a hospital. He was leaving his workplace at the time of the shooting, police said. His wife, 38-year-old Amy Hillrich of Yucaipa, was arrested at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Ontario Police Department, booking records show. Late Tuesday evening detectives arrested two of Amy Hillrich’s former co-workers: David Olvera, 24, of Yucaipa, and Emilio Saldana, 22, of Calamesa. The three suspects previously worked together at a care facility in Yucaipa, according to a news release.

Police said John and Amy Hillrich were estranged, and Hillrich had a relationship with Olvera. Investigators determined that Olvera and Saldana were in a vehicle that left the scene after the shooting, according to the news release. Investigators also recovered bullet casings and other evidence at the scene, police said. The three suspects remained jailed without bail today at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, according to booking records.

Police encourage anyone with information on the shooting to call Detective Gary Naranjo at 909-395-2764.
Information can also be submitted anonymously by calling We Tip at 1-800-78-CRIME.


Greatest Call Count Research Statistics on YellowPages Ever…

June 12, 2011

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Imagine if I could use the power of this blog, with all the wonderful targeted keywords that it ranks for, to produce the greatest collection of yellow pages call tracking and call count results ever?

According to Gregg Stewart with TMP Directional Marketing:

Telephone tracking can be accomplished by setting up a dedicated call-tracking line, whereby a unique phone number (local or toll-free) is placed on a Web site or local search advertisement. The ad is suppressed from directory assistance databases, as well as other advertising sources such as Yellow Pages and White Pages. This enables the marketer to cleanly track the exact calls coming from the specific ad campaign.

To gather and then share great stats I would ask for the following data points from over the last decade from small to medium-sized business owners:

Year:
Number of calls per day, week, or month:
Directory:
Monthly Ad Cost:
Estimated Cost Per Lead:

I would then compare the years and see if the cost decreases while print usage gives way to digital local searches.

Can you share some call count information?

–——————————–

Let’s go Mavs!

With the Dallas Mavericks winning the NBA Championship today, I want to do something extra nice…

How about giving away a FREE Call Tracking service for your print or ppc ad via CenturyInteractive.com and CallMeasurement.com? This is valued at over $1200.00 each! I have got 3 to give. Just give me some great call count data on your print yellowpages or ppc ads!

If you want to be anonymous, just let me know that too!


Why the Internet and Google Kills The Yellow Pages

May 15, 2011

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On the most recent SuperMedia Verizon Yellow Pages earnings call the company’s CEO Peter McDonald, the 3rd CEO in 4 years for Idearc/SuperMedia, was asked a question:

“Okay. And then last question. I was wondering if you could comment on —

Google recently changed their algorithm for searches, if that’s affected small business? And if you’ve seen any impact from that?

SuperMedia CEO Peter McDonald replied:

“I really don’t –I don’t keep up with Google changing their algorithm. I think they do it every day.”

He also probably doesn’t consider Google or Bing Local competitors. This is a sad reality. You see, back when folks like Chris Silver Smith and his team of SEO experts ran SuperPages.com, the site was the #1 local search destination and was the site that Google used most for citations or references to local listings. The site had tremendous authority. Client content in the form of business profiles ranked high on Google for terms like “painting service Denver” and other category/geography keyword combinations.

The yellow pages are facing continued decline of use, which is attributed to a shift in local search from printed books to cell phones etc. People once needed the book to order a pizza, now they turn to a mobile application or simple search for “pizza” on Google for local results.

Peter is an old school print YP dinosaur who doesn’t get it. He probably thinks that half of Americans prefer the printed yellow pages local search product over the internet local search. This is only true in small rural areas. Peter is a yellow pages preacher. He preaches his faith regardless whether science and academia state otherwise. Peter will hire lobbyist to prevent municipalities from creating opt-out programs that circumvent his industry’s attempt to collect consumer data with opt-outs. When homeowners associations begin to put restrictions on yellow pages delivery it will be too late..

SuperMedia just announced plans to layoff 267 employees because businesses no longer need listings in the phone book to be found….. Why not? People don’t use the yellow pages or white pages to research local business information such as addresses and phone numbers. The call center they are closing once handled a bulk of the company’s business, including all the low-cost mailout renewal accounts. These accounts consisted of multi-heading and bold fonts etc. The demand for such a thing is non-existent.

Google’s algorythm change and the inability of Peter McDonald and his team to invest the time to “keep up with it” is exactly why SuperPages doesn’t get the traffic to client websites that it once did.

Another potential area of focus or failure for local search websites is the Social check-in, group buying and engagement sites. These sites are great response tools for measuring subscribers or the online social user-base. Unfortunately the yellow pages again have failed to adapt. They don’t seem to understand the word “subscription”. People don’t subscribe to the yellow pages. You must unsubscribe to get them to stop polluting your front porch or lawn with the once bulky books. If you continue to solicit your products to people that do not want them, fail to offer them a clear and easy means of opting out, your industry will fail by not respecting and appreciating consumer demand. Time to close up shop.

Check-in ratings are real. Use FourSquare or Gowalla and see how competitive it is to become a “mayor” of your local school or Starbucks. This is a great way to see the level of social engagement in your area. Something measurable vs drinking the company mantra and Kool-Aid.

Google loves a well optimized small business website. Which is better, a SMB website or Internet Yellow Pages listing? The answer is the SMB website.

I have also found that link-building from niche blog sites works well, just like topical content link-building from regional news sites and press releases.


Not So SuperMedia Keeps Shareholder Out of Annual Meeting!

May 11, 2011

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I am here in Southlake at the SuperMedia 2011 Annual Meeting of Shareholders.

When I signed into the meeting at 9:05 I was told the meeting was over. What else did you expect from this crony executive leadership? Then they childishly moved the meeting to another room. With all the executives and board of directors members standing around chatting.

It is now 10:22 a.m. central standard time. I am going wait a few more minutes to take a couple more pics to prove the meeting was not over by 9:06 a.m. when I arrived. The woman at the desk explained to me that the meeting had already finished.

I am filing a request for the shareholder’s meeting minutes with SuperMedia’s legal team.

Pictures and additional details are coming soon. I would appreciate someone sharing the meeting minutes vs having to work with the company’s legal team.


Boulder’s Taylor Moving companies battle over business identity – Boulder Daily Camera

May 6, 2011

Businesses battle brand identity in the Yellow Pages:

Boulder’s Taylor Moving companies battle over business identity – Boulder Daily Camera.

The sales rep that sold the advertisement is also responsible for ruining the effectiveness of the real Taylor Moving’s ad. I will call to confirm that his invoices from the actions of the “SuperCrooks” sales rep gets resolved as well.


SuperMedia Closes the TCC in Irving Texas, 267 Jobs Lost.

May 3, 2011

According to a recent post by Jeff Bounds, Senior Staff Writer at the Dallas Business Journal, it appears that SuperMedia will be closing shop at it’s Irving Tx based call center.

I began my career of selling advertising solutions to small and medium-sized businesses in August of 2000, just a few months out of High School. I was hired by Cindy Crumpton and Jean Knudson thanks to a bit of nepotism and experience selling over the phone at US Wireless Communications during High School. My mom, Thressa (T.C.) Stewart Adams, was a GTE Yellow Pages Rookie of the Year Award Winner. She was also the trainer at the TCC. My experience at the TCC was great. I started out in outbound sales and ended up being promoted to ACD (Alternate Call Distribution) and never missed budget. I won my first Prestige Award, 13 Pay Periods without missing quota, and was on my way to a second before being promoted a year later to Texas Division Sales.

My heart goes out to all those impacted by the terrible decisions of Idearc/SuperMedia’s management team. Considering that digital marketing agencies are recruiting like wildfire, it is apparent that SuperMedia is facing challenging times.

I will see you at the company’s annual shareholders meeting. I still own stock in SuperMedia. The meeting is on May 11th and begins at 9 a.m.

SuperMedia Inc. (the “Company”) currently plans to hold its 2011 annual meeting of stockholders (the “2011 Annual Meeting”) on May 11, 2011 beginning at 9:00 a.m., local time, at the Hilton Dallas/Southlake Town Square located at 1400 Plaza Place, Southlake, TX 76092. The Company did not hold an annual meeting of stockholders in 2010.

When is Andy Shane going to stop putting the PR Spin on these announcements? Increase face to face? How does your micro-management teams allow sales consultants to spend more time in front of clients? Let me guess… Alexander Proudfoot Consulting has made a difference?

What a sad day.

SuperMedia to close Irving shop; 267 affected

Dallas Business Journal – by Jeff Bounds, Senior Staff Writer

Directory publisher SuperMedia LLC plans a July closing of an Irving call center, affecting all 267 people a company official.

“As part of its initiative to increase face-to-face sales and customer support and conduct these activities through local offices around the country, SuperMedia will be closing its centralized telephone sales and operations center,” said Andy Shane, SuperMedia’s group manager, external communications, in an e-mail.

“As many as 234 sales employees and 33 operations employees may be affected,” Shane’s e-mail added.

The facility is at 5601 Executive Drive in Irving, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. SuperMedia’s headquarters is at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Affected employees will receive at least 60 days of notice about the facility closure, and are able to apply for any available positions in SuperMedia (NASDAQ: SPMD).

“We also will provide employees with access to an outplacement agency,” Shane said in his e-mail.

Jobs will soon be available at Lockheed:

http://www.myfoxdfw.com/video/videoplayer.swf?dppversion=8705

Lockheed Martin Workers Caught Boozing It Up On Break: MyFoxDFW.com


Yellow Pages Sales People Are Liars.

April 14, 2011

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Not all.

Just some yellow pages sales people are crooked.

Just got off another lengthy phone call on this particular subject…

Here we go again. Read the contract. Please people!

Help me… help you!

It never ceases to amaze me how many folks call me, post on my site, or submit a request to a business lawyer client of mine on subjects related to Yellow Pages sales fraud, contract issues, ad errors, or just straightup lies or promises to follow-up that never take place. Do the yellow pages have a client trouble ticket support system? 

If it ain’t in the contract, it ain’t the truth and it didn’t/won’t happen.

Do you think the “my Sales Rep said this and that” excuse will hold up in court? Do you even read the papers you signed? Do you have arbitration? They are henchmen. They have always had a sharp axe over your head to renew, sell you based on some bullshit “your competitor is doing it” concept while my own surveys said that my former colleagues at Verizon Yellow Pages own words were, “We never use the yellow pages, except to find those in a competitors book and not ours to sell to.”

The job of many Yellow Pages workers was to design ads, market products, manage sales results, or build crappy looking websites. The job of the sales rep was to move to the next customer.

Rep comes back in the office after renewals on 3 customers (corporate quota was 5 per per day once, which is now 1) and the first thing his boss asks is “did you sell a non-ad?” (Non-Advertiser) It was never really about keeping clients. It was a monopoly. The telcos had a monopoly which became a duopoly (more books… more costs… higher prices.)

A business is always limited by resources, thus they will always have a budget. This is common sense…. but I guess so is reading a contract put in front of you by a potential lier.

Just wanted to add that I was and still am one of the good guys… “an ethicical professional who practices moral capitalism.”

Unlike the yellow pages, I am not corporate and don’t have your business guaranteed for 12 months…. or more if I used some tricks in a contract. Or some legal and collections team dedicated to enforcing the.contract, regardless of what it does to reputation or client churn.


What the best SEO does for clients that your web developer can’t?

April 6, 2011

Everybody knows someone who knows something about web design and SEO. Either that or everyone gets a phone call from someone selling some sort of internet marketing product or service. That’s why most people either get suckered into a website by some salesman or your brother’s friend’s sister’s kid built your small business website.

Most great SEOs are just masters at a few things, but a jack of almost all things web related.

To be the best SEO you need to know how websites work. How they are constructed and designed, as well as how to sell things from them. They must understand how to create content and what sites to publish it to and the how’s, why’s, and whatnot’s of building links to pages. It also helps to understand how people use websites and ways to convert more customers. What about an ability to offer cost-effective niche microsites that are extremely keyword relevant to the search engines? What about video production and using video to drive traffic and promote your business.

After all this… guess what? He or She still doesn’t have what it takes to be considered one of the best SEOs.

What do they need to be considered the best? Is it in detail of the work? Do they write ad copy that is so compelling it makes you want to jump into whatever it is the website is selling? Or what about the guy who never asks a client for content. He doesn’t let a client slow him down. Maybe he knows how to discover link opportunities or how social and search work together in the new ranking methodologies? Do they understand how image search can also impact rankings? I am sure a great SEO also has the ability to prevent a client from wasting money chasing something that they can’t achieve for the amount of money they have to invest? Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to spend a very little amount on something that may take years to payoff with such a small initial investment or pennies on the dollar of what needs to be invested monthly. Does your internet marketing person know this? Will they lead you down a path that ultimately bears no fruit? So much to consider.

What does the Best SEO do for his clients that your so-called web guru doesn’t?

  • Transparency
  • Reporting
  • Measurement
  • Strategy

These 4 things are what separates a good search engine optimization consultant from the best SEOs.

A client needs 100% transparency on everything. Do they see how much each and every click from Google AdWords or BING/MSN AdCenter? The best SEOs don’t offer questionable limited view reports from companies like ReachLocal.com who cover up huge PPC click markups or those that hide content network clicks and label them as “search clicks?” These clients end up paying for low quality traffic without knowing it.

The best SEOs setup reporting in a fashion that doesn’t eat into the clients billable hours. Most SEO firms charge 1/4 hour for just reporting. The best SEOs know how to automate this and put that billable time back in the SEO strategy. The best SEOs also know how  to take data and use it. Wash, rinse, and repeat is a process that they have mastered and that keeps them moving to the next keyword phrase to rank for. They are able to measure success. The best SEOs provide tools such as backlink analysis and web ranking reports.

The best SEOs also provide a holistic strategy. A holistic SEO recognizes that there are several important factors that go into creating a successful website and web presence, not just any single one.

Holistic search marketing does not combat SEO vs PPC for ones marketing budget, but realizes that they must work together to achieve a great return on investment.

Holistic search marketing approaches also consider the value of being represented in the paid search (PPC) results, the local listing results, Google organic results, and other web properties that rank on Google such as Facebook pages and videos from YouTube. The best SEO finds many methods of generating traffic and also helps you spend your budget effectively. Don’t confuse PPC resellers as SEOs. Don’t hire an SEO firm that tells you not to do pay-per-click. This is a great sign that they are not holistic in approach.

If you need the best SEO money can buy… ask me to help you find one. As a Board of Directors Member of the Dallas Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association, I have the privilege of working with the Best SEO Companies and Consultants in Dallas. Ask me for a FREE Pass to one of our monthly meetings, and you will be connected to some of the best SEO experts in the country.

Or… just call me! 214-267-9553


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

March 3, 2011

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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.


Google Places Is Pissing Off Directory and Review Sites

March 1, 2011

Recently on Search Engine Land, resident expert of all things local search related, Greg Sterling, posted a great article  Yelp: Google Told Us “Our Way Or The Highway”. This is a great summary of the challenges for Internet Yellow Pages sites and local review sites as previously outlined last year by local SEO expert Andrew Shotland in a discussion, titled “Dead Fingers Walking“, a “phony letter from Google to directory sites and IYPs.

Basically this can all be summarized as Google owns the court (traffic,) Yelp provides the ball (reviews,) and if Yelp has a problem they can take the ball and go home, but suffer losing the ability to use the court and all the attention that comes with it!

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. My suggestion for Yelp is to realize that the data or citations that Google wants is going to be a TAX of sorts. Now, what if Google makes a manual change to the algo that impacts Yelp rankings the same as Google recently did to penalize poor quality content in the February “Farmer Update.”

Looks like DexOne’s Business.com and SuperMedia’s AmericanTowns.com sites got hit pretty hard from this recent update:

Also looks like BizRate.com and other “low quality content” SuperPages.com advertisers also got hit pretty hard by this update as well. Most of these sites just copy content from other sources or distribute pricing and product information from another source, such as Amazon.com. These tactics will no longer work, Google will begin validating that the content gets credited to the original publisher of said content.

Btw, Talking about horrible user experiences and searches, check this out: http://yellowpages.superpages.com/listings.jsp?STYPE=S&C=electronics+dallas+tx

The Walgreens, MySimon, and Staples results on SuperPages.com for a local “electronics” search is a pathetic at best user experience. Good going Skunkwerks!


GOOGLE profits on the rise from PPC after instant search.

December 16, 2010

Recent Google News:

According to SearchEngineLand’s recent article in November via “Mr. McGoogle” Matt McGee ( http://searchengineland.com/google-instant-search-has-already-made-millions-report-53888 ) Google’s revenue for PPC ads (pay-per-click ads) is up since rolling out Instant Search.

 

Google Monopoly Historical Perspective Profits On Rise by Dallas Google Guru via Scores.org

This begs the question, “Is Google now a monopoly?”


Who uses the yellow pages?

December 11, 2010

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.

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


WEB.com Partners with SuperPages.com – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

December 10, 2010

SuperMedia just inked a partnership deal with Web.com to provide SMB (small & medium business) websites, the first move to update the companies online product offerings since before being Verizon Information Services, pre-dating Idearc Media.

http://smallbiztrends.com/2010/12/web-com-and-supermedia-announce-alliance-to-benefit-small-businesses.html

GTE/Verizon/Idearc/SuperMedia has had a long lasting relationship with Register.com, the company Web.com recently purchased for 135 million big ones. Just a 65 million dollar loss for the VC team that purchased the company for 200 million smack-a-roos 5 years earlier.

If SuperMedia has a buyout opportunity, now is the time. Considering that they officially appointed Peter McDonald as CEO, the guy from Dex, now is the time to sell SuperPages.com and combine Dex and VZ print publishing efforts with significant cost saving in management and operations payroll with combined efforts.

Good: WEB.com is proactive with negative keyword insertion strategies for online reputation management, better than SuperMedia’s ORM and PR Team.

http://www.web.com/blog/internet-marketing/web-com-scam-prevention-tips/

Let’s see how far they manage to drive these search results for “Web.com Scam” down.

http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/internet-scam-c109036.html

Good: Hostopia/Netopia Motorola outdated content management systems are done for.

Bad: Outsourcing web marketing to a DIY platform like Godaddy’s WebsiteTonight product or Web.com’s DIY based website products vs in-house.

Bad: Not following the masses with widely used, supported, and future-proof web based content management systems like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal is still taking a step sideways vs forward. This is not evolution.

Ugly: Does the client own the site design or is it still like Hostopia/Motorola sites that you can’t keep should you desire not to renew your contract?

If you can’t invest $1000.00 to $1500.00 in your online brand you must either be in rural America serving your local area or your target market consists of “OLD” people.

Ugly: This guy’s email from India this morning proves that folks overseas know more about search marketing solutions than Yellow Page folks, hedge fund managers, commodity sellers, and the average small business owner.

Hello,

Wishing you a great day!

We offer services for Search Engine Optimization for enhancing link popularity of the website on your targeted keywords. As well as our team has been serving for few SEO companies all across the globe for various themes e.g IT services , Real-estate, Online Shopping, Cosmetics . If you have any requirements for complete SEO or the related services below,

 

Please feel free to contact to may skype id: (removed to protect the innocent)

 

1. Manual Directory Submissions

2. Static Back links

 

3. Blog Posting

 

4. Article Submission

 

5. Press release submission

 

6. Social Bookmarking

 

We apply clean strategy as well as white hat techniques to achieve the desired results.

 

For any further information please feel free to contact.

 

Best Regards,

Dude from India

Ugly: When Google and Woopra Analytics state that your site is getting 59 website visitors in 6 months to your SMB website, yet the yellow pages or vertical directory send you a report stating you had 300+ visitors, something is wrong. This happens all the time. Most of the time folks don’t know it because they have proprietary website development platforms and the providers do not permit you to embed an analytics tracking code. Maybe website analytics doesn’t work right, otherwise why would there be such a huge discrepancy? Or better yet, maybe someone is lying to you in order to keep getting your money.

Let’s end this on a Good note:

Good: I am going out on a limb. I am offering FREE call tracking numbers for Christmas via CallMeasurement.com. Track the effectiveness of Yellow Pages, listings, or any advertising media.

Email me for details. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays folks!


Call Measurement – The Only Way to Really Measure Online Ad Response Effectively

November 26, 2010

Does your business want to validate the effectiveness of an online or offline ad campaign or promotion?

How do you judge whether the advertisement you are purchasing is effective?

Did you know that for as little as $100.00 per month you can measure the ROI of any and all advertising you produce?

If you need call tracking and reporting services, I strongly recommend you contact the folks at Century Interactive in Dallas.

Century Interactive enables businesses to perform holistic campaign reviews and grade effectiveness of both online and offline campaigns. Stop guessing what online efforts are driving your phone calls. Track the number of calls generated by any online campaign or referring source in near real-time.

If you have questions, give me a call. I am an authorized reseller for Century Interactive’s CallMeasurement.com service.

FAQ Answers:

  • Service is available in most areas.
  • No Contract.
  • You can keep the numbers you provision.
  • Cost is per minute in the event you pass your $100 per month threshold.
  • Call Routing, Call Forwarding, Call Recording, Call Whisper, and Greetings…. they got it all!
  • The customer service from CI, and SMBSEO is the bomb!