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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What is the future of local small business advertising?

February 5, 2012

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With search marketing officially taking over traditional media marketing channels it is no surprise sleazy sales tactics still work for some Internet marketing providers.

check out what I got from ReachLocal recently:

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I will be sure to add some of the stats.

I just want you to understand that there is a difference between a backlink building content marketing SEO agency like SMB SEO and the product or platform specific Google Adwords reseller agencies and yellow pages.

In the month of July we created over 550 pages of content for less than 25 clients. This past January I had te responsibility for scheduling over 1,000 pages worth of offsite and onsite content marketing articles, blog posts, and pages for around 35 different businesses. Let’s see the yellow pages or ReachLocal folks provide that kind of Internet marketing strategy and schedules!

Just because my agency saves clients a boatload of money in PPC up charges by not paying anyone other than Google or Bing direct for clicks, doesn’t mean we are less effective or inferior to these larger marketing organizations. What they fail to offer:

Google Analytics
You own all the PPC campaign work
You own the PPC campaign account
CallMeasurement.com Call Tracking
woopra analytics
Custom Video Production
Web Ranking Reports Weekly
Niche Site Domain Development
Mobile Ads
Mobile Sites
PRWeb.com Press Releases
Local listing optimization
UBL Listing (universal business listing)
Localeze Data Center Listing


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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How to really screw up a pay-per-click campaign the easy way….

August 31, 2011

Let an AdWords reseller create a broad match campaign for your Air Conditioning company with the keyword “services” and actually pay them for the clicks.

In the old days people bought yellow pages. In the new days they purchased digital ads. Today and in the future they will buy conversions, or atleast expect to manage by conversions instead of just getting “traffic” to a website.

Checkout this search result for said A/C company for the search term “black at SEO services” on Google, notice how I wasn’t looking for air conditioning?

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This is a prime example why you don’t want a national ppc reseller to manage your campaign. Instead, hire an agency that is partnered with Google’s Engage program like smbSEO.


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 »


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.


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


6 Easy Ways to Waste Your Money On Advertising

April 27, 2011

So much advice on the internet on how to advertise. It is almost annoying if you ask me. Everyone claims that they know where you need to put your money.

How about saving some money for once?

Consider:

A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned.

How about sharing a few ideas on how you can quickly waste your money?

1. Pay someone a fee to build a website that is intended to drive traffic to your phone or email without focusing on writing fresh new content for readers and search engine web crawlers.

2. Pay someone to advertise you on Google AdWords and don’t ask them how much of your hard-earned money they are spending on clicks vs management fees.

3.  Advertise where your competition advertises, because your competition seems to generate business. (this is a common tactic for sales reps to convince you that advertising with them is a great investment.)

4. Advertise without a logo or brand. Considering that most advertising reaches folks in all areas of the buying process, from awareness to intent, it only makes sense to have a professional logo and brand tagline in your ad messages or pages. A professional look to your small business will go a long way to creating trust with your potential customers.

5. Relying strictly on “outbound marketing” vs a comprehensive approach to marketing that includes both outbound and inbound marketing methods.

“Old Marketing” methods include:

  • Outside sales
  • Telemarketing
  • Tradeshows
  • Print Advertising
  • Direct mail/email

“New Marketing” methods include:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Pay per click (PPC) advertising
  • Blogging
  • Content Marketing and Strategy
  • Conversion Science
  • Analytics
  • Video Marketing

6.  Spend your advertising dollars on advertising to gain traffic or generate leads, then fail to focus on conversions. For every $100 spent on advertising, only $8 is spend on converting traffic and leads to customers. I have always said:

“If you focus on converting people to customers, you don’t have to spend money finding more people to convert.”

If I were a pastor at a church and knew someone who is currently handling  the challenges of a life changing and traumatic event, I would share with this person how my religion can help them deal with the problem, avoid it in the future, and learn from the experience. Another option is to tell them about my ministry and why I we are so great. I am sure that by explaining how we can help this person in his or her unique situation with our services we would be much more successful at converting them than by simply talking about myself. Do they really care that much about me? Or is the real question, “How can WE help you?

The most common mistakes in advertising are caused by poor planning, horrible advice, or simply seizing an opportunity just because it happens to present itself. When the only options you have are those being forced upon you by good timing, you are much more likely to make a decision based on reaction vs thoughtful consideration that includes weighing the options. One thing to consider is how much money is required or how long you must invest in order to be successful. Advertising investments, like other forms of investing, have both short and long-term rewards.


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


“Gravity Doesn’t Suck Customers Down the Internet Funnel”

March 17, 2011

According to Wikipedia:  sales process, also known as a sales tunnel or a sales funnel is a systematic approach to selling a product or service

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One of the great things about being involved in an industry group or association is the opportunity to learn new ways of saying some of the same things.  Ask any expert and they will tell you that they didn’t become an expert overnight and most likely paid a hefty price to be one. Time is money. Research only gets you so far. Listening to those that have “been there, done that” puts a big shortcut in the learning curve. Learning from mistakes helps take you the rest of the way.

In December 2009, I became a Board of Directors Member of the first local professional search engine marketing association, the Dallas / Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association or www.DFWSEM.org.  DFWSEM was founded by a group of blackhat SEOs back around 2001. Bill Hartzer, who I tremendously respect as an authority in search marketing, was one of the original founding members of DFWSEM. DFWSEM is the largest local meetup for search professionals in the country.  We meet once a month in Dallas to share insights, tips, tricks, and tools related to all things SEO, PPC, and Social Media.

I have invited many clients to attend these meetings and have found that not only do many learn more about what I do for them (this works so much better than those tacky one call closes folks!), some of my clients have actually joined the association and attend regularly.

Tonight was one of those nights. It just clicked. While on a panel discussion of the lessons from PubCon Austin 2011 and SMX West, two of the biggest conferences for search geeks, Tony Wright, the witty CEO of WrightIMC, a reputable reputation management and SEO firm, said something that will forever stick with me:

“Gravity doesn’t work in the sales funnel”

He was referring back to a comment from a PubCon keynote speaker who stated that if you have an authoritative site with great content you won’t need to pay for advertising. Sorta like Amazon or Wikipedia, right? Tony said that this really is more of a fallacy in theory. Those with strong brands become strong from authoritative content and paid promotion.

Moving a potential customer from research and awareness to buying intent doesn’t just happen. As marketers, we must make it happen. Moving people from one step in the buying process to another requires many different types of marketing methodologies, such as conversion optimization and testing, unique value propositions, identifying key differentiators, and incorporating solid calls to action. Building trust is also important. Sharing features and benefits also helps move them down the funnel.

Lastly, you must advertise. Advertising can be both creative (for building your brand) and directional (helping people find your brand.) Advertising is what brings people to your funnel. Gravity pulls us all down, but not down the funnel. That takes expert strategy and creativity.

Sorry to contradict the great lyrics of John Mayer, but gravity isn’t always working against us. Sometimes it doesn’t bring us down. Especially when it pertains to the buying process, contrary to what most business owners and even some experts seem to think.

Another great quote from PubCon:

“$92 out of every $100 invested in marketing goes to advertising. Only $8 is spent on making ads convert.”


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!


Tired of Managing Complex IT Solutions? Costs Always Going Up? Want Marketing Collaboration and Social Media?

February 14, 2011

Are you a CIO, IT Professional, or Marketing Manager for a corporation or small business?

Having trouble with IT solutions, bandwidth, or social collaboration?

I am working with a new cloud based application service delivery platform that is perfect for any organization. It is a professional virtual desktop that works with all devices, on any platform, and any enterprise or application.

This new solution will allow you to:

  • Cut Costs and Reduce Downtime
  • Increase Employee Productivity
  • Handle Web and Information Security & Backup Peace of Mind
  • Single point of contact for all your IT needs

and includes:

  • Microsoft Office
  • Web2.0 Applications
  • Administrative Console
  • 3G-10G Storate
  • Web Conferencing
  • SEO Management Dashboard
  • Business Continuance
  • Collaboration Tools

with

  • Access from Anywhere and Any Broadband Enabled Device!!!!!!

 

Email me to share the real scoop!

mike (at) smbseo (dot) com

 

Cheers!


Do you want a career in advertising and marketing for small businesses?

January 21, 2011

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smbSEO is looking for a few good men (or women.)

  • Work for yourself.
  • Free training.
  • Straight commission compensation.

Recently laid off from a struggling advertising company?  smbSEO is growing fast.

smbSEO offers paid search management, organic and local SEO, website design using WordPress or Joomla CMS, video production, reverse SEO for ORM, SEO copy and content writing, PRWeb.com Press Releases, and much more.

smbSEO’s services are managed, measured, and, implemented with 100% transparency using web ranking reports, Google or Woopra Analytics, CallMeasurement.com Call Tracking, AdWords and AdCenter Campaign Reporting, and conversion reporting software.

smbSEO also has partnerships with area search marketing advocacy groups, such as http://www.DFWSEM.com.

Help us spread the message about our holistic search marketing services to small businesses and earn a referral fee, or jump on board our team and start earning commissions and begin learning what it takes to provide the best integrated marketing solutions to local SMBs.

My cell phone number is 972-998-0050. Give me a call if you have questions.

If you want to inquire about this opportunity, email your resume and contact information to basecamp(at)smbSEO(dot)com.

We are also launching a franchise-based business model the 2nd quarter of 2011. Details will be provided at http://www.smbSEO.com soon.

*posted via WordPress mobile app.


SEO Crooks, Yellow Crooks, and Snake Oil Salesmen – Are all the same!

January 2, 2011

In the early days of modern medicine, men went around selling various unproven and untested concoctions to people with claims of amazing cures and an instant relief of whatever ails them. Greed and fraud is why our Government decided to step in and end this predatory business practice by creating the FDA.

Greed is the word that best defines crony capitalism. Greed and gluttony are traits that seldom gain attention amongst the executive culture on Wall Street. The average surgeon makes just around 2 million $ per year, the average Hedge Fund manager earns well over 800 million $ per year. Why? Greed. That money should be shared with investors in an equal proportion to the amount invested.

Over these last few months, I’ve been paying close attention to the solicitations from so-called SEO scam artists (aka: professionals) who make false claims and guarantees to improve client rankings or get them on the first page of Google. It seems that little thought or focus on the sales call goes into how they intend to accomplish the actual task. Is it because want to avoid giving away the secret? Or is it because they have no real PLAN?. In many cases the client already ranks, but it seems as though some SEO companies think that every small business or website needs their help with web rankings, so they feel the need to continue to spam website contact forms and scrape email addresses off of websites to solicit new business with these statements.

It is said that 50% of advertising wasted. It should also be said that “50% of contact form emails are solicitations.” Thanks for creating a crappy user experience spammers!

Beware of so-called SEOs that Guarantee to Improve Your Rankings. There’re a number of what I call SEO Snake’s Oil salesmen out there who will claim to help you rank for 1,000 keywords. There are many instances in which some dubious SEOs will help you rank for terms like “divorce lawyer outrageous settlement Dallas”. But seriously, what’s the likelihood of someone typing something like that?

The worst old sales tactic in sleazy yellow pages sales was the “I want to update your listing” phone call. This is total lie and complete BULLSHIT! They don’t give a rats butt about the business FREE listing. The purpose for the call is to sell an ad in the “most used/distributed/awesome phone book.”

Fast forward to the days of the internet, Search Engine Marketing companies have are using the same tactics to sell internet marketing solutions. They begin with “We want to LIST or SUBMIT your site to Google or major search engines. We can help you make sure that you are listed with local online directories. BLAH BLAH BLAH BULLSHIT BULLSHIT. It never stops.

I had an interesting call with a fella from ReachLocal recently that actually made me somewhat proud to be a holistic search engine marketing practitioner. With the new ReachCast product they are actually discussing techniques that I employ for my clients, such as content strategy and social media bookmarking. I have never been fond of the companies automated PPC bid management system, but minus the lack of focus on the clients website compared to the focus on the “Cast” page, I think ReachLocal has managed to standout as the ethical standard for large internet marketing firms. If they had the focus on 100% pricing transparency as it pertains to clicks they would see a huge drop in client complaints.

Another large internet marketing firm is Local.com. Local.com recently purchased the web design and content writing approach from Octane360. If you compare ReachLocal’s Reachcast service and Local.com’s Octane 360 offering, you will see that they are similar and equally overpriced compared to what a small agency like mine offers, but considering the offerings from the Yellow Pages companies, not a bad at all! Local.com has pushier sales people though.

I have seen way too many SEO firms claiming to be able to help my clients rank on Google, yet when you ask them about on-site and off-page content with links they go blank.  My company SMB SEO provides every client with Google or Woopra Analytics, Google AdWords PPC reports, and customized keyword Web Ranking Reports. Why? To create transparency by ensuring to the client that we are making progress on our commitment to achieving the desired result for the client. We also provide call tracking from CallMeasurement.com.

Search Engine Marketing is not like the yellow pages. It is not a commodity. SEOs must schedule activities such as articles, press releases, social media message distribution, and video content in order to maintain a results focused approach. Without a schedule ( insert transparency on what you are paying for ) they are just scanners who are charging you for the idea of the result, much like how yellow pages publishers continue to sell their antiquated products.

Don’t be a scammer.

There are only three reasons that folks call my company:

  • They need help because they don’t have the time to do SEO themselves.
  • They do no know how to fulfill the requirements for proper local SEO and PPC.
  • They want me to help teach them how to do it themselves.

Pretty simple, right?

Unfortunately for you, shady and sleazy companies ( typically those who are not socially responsible while often overpaying executives ) are the ones with resources to hire sales reps to solicit search marketing services. They often use industry lingo and confusing contracts and then back these iron clad contracts up with legal teams. Don’t get me wrong, pursuing profit is not a bad thing, so long as it allows the business to invest in paying more American workers and donating to American charities. You know, social responsible companies.

I am praying that business owners are smart enough to know better, but considering the type of companies that fall victim to the “$850.00/month” credit offered by some media companies like the yellow pages, these predatory practices will continue. For big companies the act of repairing reputations just takes a lil $.

Check out the bbb.org, ripoff report.com, or jobvent for examples.

If your SEO Company does not offer a planned schedule that includes a content strategy and measurement of successes, you are likely not going to get either of them. I recommend staying away from such a firm. A good start in finding a good search engine marketing expert is to search Google!