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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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.


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.