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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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.


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.


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.


“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.”