Verizon Idearc SuperMedia Stock Fraud Scam discovered. How bankers and executives pad pockets!

July 30, 2010

Verizon’s Idearc SuperMedia Stock Fraud Exposed

Verizon SuperMedia Stock Scam LogoHere is a link to the Class Action Lawsuit filed against Verizon, JP Morgan etc for SuperMedia/Idearc Stock and Bankruptcy Fraud. Verizon, Idearc’s Executive’s including most of the same Verizon and now current SuperMedia leadership, committed a crime! I was a Verizon employee from 2000 to 2006, then Verizon Yellow Pages became Idearc. It all went downhill from there! Looked at the SEC filings and figured out what Idearc did. They may have gotten away with a perfect crime. I just can’t figure out how a bankruptcy court judge would allow it. But considering the compensation of Idearc’s bankruptcy lawyers in Dallas, and the history with the local federal bankruptcy judge… this looks worse than Bernie Madoff!

How to wipe out shareholders and pad the pockets of bankers, hedgefund managers, and executives 101:

Step 1: Create a public company with two accounts one public and one private.

Step 2: Load all debt to the public account at inception, but report all earnings as one entity, which makes most people believe the debt to asset ratio is okay.

Step 3: Put most of the money into the private account.

Step 4: File for bankruptcy and get rid of the public account.

Step 5: Do it again under a new name.

Very clever, but is it legal? The courts will have to decide. The company had $1.7 billion in assets when it filed for chapter 11 and that money was never factored in during the bankruptcy. On at least 3 separate occassions, Verizon has sold or spun off companies which they themselves overloaded with VERIZON debt. (Fairpoint Communications, Hawaiian Telecom, and Idearc Media) All 3 of these companies filed for bankruptcy resulting in massive losses to anyone who invested their hard earned money trusting the Verizon name. I have always been a strong believer in the “buyer beware” philosophy but Verizon’s hands are certainly NOT clean in all of this. Any individual investor who got caught up in this would be hard pressed to defend Verizon. The entire 2006 earnings is a fraud. Verizon declares $772 million net earnings minus any debt. Verizon then spins off Idearc and takes most of the cash and leaves Idearc with $72 million. Verizon set up two accounts in respect of its whole business: one to hold the cash (the $9 Billion that it borrowed), and one to hold the debt for the borrowing (Spinco). The latter it got rid of, but wrapped up in a pretty package, along about Thanksgiving time, called “Idearc” (vaguely reminiscent of a sort of Noah’s arc of supreme “wisdom”), and garnered with a handsome (though very perishable) dividend. Actually, it was a bomb, expressly timed (in the “tax sharing agreement”) to explode exactly at the two year mark necessary to avoid capital gain tax on the transaction.

Check the most recent income and cash flow statements and you will see that the company is an operating cash cow. But in 2009, I think management wanted the bankruptcy to succeed to get out of paying the debt, so they paid out huge sums to bankruptcy attorneys and for marketing consultants. Now that the bankruptcy is over, management owns shares of new stock and will have an incentive to cut costs and raise the stock price. Paulsen had an obvious incentive to provide a low ball value estimation to get the stock as cheaply as possible.

And then, when it did explode in hands of remote purchasers for value (relying on the Verizon name and integrity), and just as was certainly predictable, Verizon, acting like a total stranger, simply walks away. It might have stopped; it might have looked, and thought of something – thrown a blanket over the victim of its own actions – it could have guaranteed the bonds; taken a preferred issue to pay them off, made a short term loan to help its own telephone book get through the recession – many things…but no. The causal agent of the catastrophe acted just like the driver who hits the pedestrian – 437,000. of them in this case – and just goes on driving down the road….the SEC POLICE nowhere to be seen. It is likely the low point of the American securities system and the New York Stock Exchange. Current participants in this don’t want to tell it. History certainly will.

Just in case you wondered:

Counsel to the Debtors  (Idearc) – Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. 2200 Ross Avenue, Suite 2800 Dallas, TX 75201-2784 T: 214-855-8000 F: 214-855-8200 http://www.fulbright.com

Counsel to Unsecured Creditors – Haynes and Boone, LLP 2323 Victory Avenue, Suite 700 Dallas, TX 75219 T: 214-651-5000 F: 214-651-5940 http://www.haynesboone.com

The Debtors’ actual cash balance as of July 31, 2009 was $616 million.

and check this out: http://www.belltelretirees.org/images/stories/docket_29_-_supermedias_motion_to_dismiss_reply_brief.pdf

Latest update: Verizon Sued for Fraud http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-16/verizon-sued-by-idearc-creditors-claiming-2006-spinoff-led-to-bankruptcy.html


Another prediction about yellow pages….

June 7, 2010

If the yellow pages publishers don’t consider migrating from a saturation distribution to an opt-in business model, they will no longer be viable for the future.

Consumer’s hate junk mail. They hate waste. They think recycling is cool. They also don’t like spam, pop-ups, or other annoying things… like DIRECT MAIL!

Opt in and privacy is the thing of the future. Just think about what a fuss folks are making about Facebook privacy policies.

The best business models have always been those that embraced and then succeeded via creating an authoritative subscription base. What do you think made folks loyal to newspapers in the old days? What made folks loyal to yellow pages? Well, if you think about it, yellowpages companies used to have subscribers. Folks that ordered a phone and expected to get a book.

Yellow pages companies are all in agreement that 1 in 9 folks actually WANT to get (or OPT IN TO) getting the residential white pages.

SuperMedia Dallas Gallup Usage Study

Now the funny thing is they are trying to make folks think that people actually see white from yellow or yellow from white. To tell you the truth, they think White Pages is Yellow Pages and vice-versa. They don’t distinguish the difference.

The real problem is that they are no longer having to publish (in the case of SuperMedia and AT&T they are actually doing it aggressively to cut costs) white pages in many areas, but are doing nothing to lower advertising rates for the savings to clients.

Keep cutting costs by shipping jobs overseas while customer service goes to shit, saturating folks with books they don’t want, and lying to Wall Street and shareholders….. while having the audacity to pad your own pockets in the process, and watch a company disappear.

Here is to hoping the magazine industry buys the yellow pages. Maybe some sales jobs might be left, vs automating a system to buy ads online, which is the longterm plan for some ***cough/ SuperMedia /cough*** yellow pages companies.

Video killed the Radio Star…. What killed the Yellow Pages? Opt Out Will Kill The Yellow Pages!

Magazines understand the value of mailing something to a SUBSCRIBER cheaper than paying an illegal immigrant $100.00 per day to deliver. They also understand the concept of creating offers and pricing folks WANT to OPT-IN TO.  I never understood why yellow pages companies list things A-Z or why they create a separate category for COUPONS. Shouldn’t COUPONS be with the ADS? I mean, you don’t have the same room as you do with a website. Seriously….

GET A CLUE! Keep drinking the Kool-Aid. I would love to have a debate with Scott Klein, Bill Brewer, Sherry Taylor or the other folks that I “worked for” at Idearc/SuperMedia, obviously they don’t have a clue what clients and consumers think, nor do any of them care.

I am sure you can afford to buy a clue. Considering that they all can afford to go on corporate incentive trips.

Just a suggestion, there are many folks that know how to fix the problem vs putting lipstick on a pig and hoping to sell before the bacon is spoiled! You don’t need to buy a clue to understand this. Expecting to fix a broken company with people that continue to see everything the same way is essentially the definition of insanity, “doing the same thing and expecting a different result.”

Oh, and hey….. “10 Brownie Points” to the first person that can remind me “How many people research online prior to making a purchase?”


Proof of SuperFraud by a not so Super Media company

May 30, 2010

Want to see proof of SuperMedia sales fraud? Visit www.YellowCrooks.com


Corporate Ethics and High Pressure Sales Environments

April 11, 2010

“an ethical company will in the short run and in the long term be a better institution. . . . Ethical behavior is simply good business.”

You can create a Company Code of Conduct and have all your employees sign it. Does not mean that your company is ethical. You can also create a Code of Ethics, this also does not mean your company is an ethical one.

Ethics begin at a corporations mid-level management team. If your management team has been corrupted and pressured to pressure the “system”, this is when ethics challenges will begin to impact the future of your organization.

Some industries don’t have honest ethical leadership at the top of the organization. Remember the mortgage fraud from Countrywide Mortgage and the CEO? What about Enron? Or Toyota for hiding information related to faulty gas pedals? Greedy CEOs and Executives may make it hard for managers to follow “a good conscience”.  The future of any organization and industry is not in the appearance of an ethical corporate culture, but in the philosophy and acceptance of a ethical corporate culture. Ethics catch up with you (unless you bailout before they have been discovered, as is the case with SuperMedia’s corporate fraud to investors and executive compensation fraud.)

Having been an employee of an organization that was ethical, GTE/Verizon Directories, and then seeing the company move the opposite direction from ethics as IdearcMedia/SuperMedia, I can tell you that it is a relief to no longer be associated with a business that has a horrible reputation.

Idearc/SuperMedia has by far the worst reputation on JobVent, RipOffReport.com,  ComplaintsBoard.com, BBB.org (see below), and countless other websites. Customer service is a cost center. Product fulfillment is outsourced for margins. Talented and ethical consultants are being fired for activities and not forcing clients into products that are overpriced and fail to meet expectations. The actions from the leadership team demonstrate the worst in corporate ethics. An unethical leadership team rewards itself with bonuses, raises, and short and longterm stock rewards not based on results, earnings, or growth, but based on the opportunity for a buyout or change in control for what is a dying business model.

So with all the new pressure from Scott Klein as CEO from SuperMedia and coercion to sell clients on misguided and unachievable results from a dying product that has prices higher than ever and competition like never before do to SuperMedia in just a few short years?

Well, SuperMedia’s BBB.org rating was revoked for the company nationwide due to the sales fraud and lack of results in October of 2009!

hey…. that was the month that I left the company!

SuperMedia Review at BBB.org YellowCrooks.com

Regarding cancelling advertising contracts SuperMedia’s Terms and Conditions states the following:

“SECTION 28 REVISIONS AND CANCELLATIONS – If I wish to revise or cancel my advertising in the issue(s) specified on the cover section of this Application, I must do so by giving written notice to Publisher at Idearc Media Corp., P.O. Box 610609, D/FW Airport, TX 75261 or by fax to (972) 453-6764 no later than 14 days from the Date of the Application or by the applicable close date, whichever is earlier. For subsequent issues,I must give written notice of revisions or cancellation to Publisher at the address or fax number set forth in this Section 28 by the close date for such issues, which date may be obtained by calling Publisher’s Customer Service Office at (800) 555-4833.

“SECTION 29 AUTOMATIC RENEWAL – If Publisher does not receive written notice of cancellation in accordance with Section 28 and Publisher elects to publish my advertising in subsequent issues of the Directory,I agree to pay Publisher as provided in Section 25 and that the then current version of the terms and conditions will apply to such advertising. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Publisher will have no obligation to automatically renew my advertising or to notify me that my advertising will not be renewed. Limited inventory advertising will not be automatically renewed and requires a new Application and applicable addendum.”

If you choose to cancel your contract, the procedures above must be followed.

It might be a good idea to include this in the SuperMedia Perfect Sales Pitch?

Instead of going back to the drawing board to recreate a business model that leverages the best local small business advertising sales team and discovering a means of evolving the organization into a lower margin service business model, they chose to permit a culture of sleezy sales.

I remember listening to a discussion by my executive team at Idearc regarding the collapse of Polaroid.  They discussed the fact that consumers no longer wanted instant Polaroid pictures and rather preferred the quality of digital pictures that required a trip to a photo shop.  Even today instant cameras are losing market share to cell phones with cameras.  Technology evolves, so do industries. Your cheese gets moved, you evolve and go find new cheese or move with it. All the while you maintain ethics and retain ethical employees and loyal customers. Do you practice what you preach? Sounds more like Washington and less like Main Street if you ask me. Cheating on your wife while asking to be re-elected. Paying for high dollar hookers on the company petty cash account? Bankers being rewarded for fraud and bankrupting companies and investors.

The company I spend over 9 years at chose not to evolve. In 2000, I joined Verizon Yellow Pages 2 months out of high school at the Texas Call Center (TCC) in Irving Texas. I won a my first Prestige Award and was on my way to earning a second (would have been the first to achieve such a feat) when I was promoted to local sales at 4500 Fuller Drive in Irving Tx. I began my career with Janet Bro and Scott Laver. I was the guy who could not be promoted to an outside sales position because I was too young to be insured to drive a company car. I won 3 President’s Awards as an ethical sales consultant for Verizon/Idearc over the course of my 9 year career. I was the only person to accomplish this in Texas Sales. In 2006 Kathy Harless changed the tune of the company. Employees feared change. I embraced change. The next big change was Scott Klein. After just a few months at the helm of the company, it was quickly discovered by employees that the company had taken many steps back and none forward.

The failure of SuperMedia begins with new crony corporate leadership and horrible ethics combined with a high pressure sales environment among a rapidly declining industry.

Supervisors

What this discussion of rewards and objectives ultimately points to is the critical role that supervisors play in determining the ethical character of a company. In a survey of more than 300 managers by the National Institute of Business Management, the behavior of an employee’s superiors was ranked as the second most important factor in influencing decision making. This was surpassed only by a personal code, and outstripped the behavior of one’s peers, formal company policy and the ethical climate in the industry.

As a result, another major challenge in institutionalizing ethics in a business is to be particularly sensitive to the danger of supervisors exerting the wrong kind of pressure. TI’s Skooglund observes that “If you’re going to have the kind of pressure that’ll make decent people go wrong, you’ll find it in the employee-supervisor relationship.” Relating this issue directly to other major challenges just mentioned, Skooglund notes that “there are two ways that the employee-supervisor relationship can really go wrong: 1) if you set goals that realistically cannot be met, and 2) if you have an environment where the employee is made to feel that failure is totally unacceptable.” When the cost of failure is too high, people feel enormous pressure to compromise both their own values and the company’s stated standards. And for all practical purposes, it’s an employee’s supervisor who determines the cost of failure.

Corporate objectives

The matter of rewards, however, brings us full circle and back to the issue of “cheating for the company” which opened this article. After all, what employees are rewarded for is one of the main factors that determines how strong the temptation will be for them to bend or break the rules–or even the law. The more that employees are rewarded simply for meeting quarterly objectives, the stronger that temptation will be. “Employees learn very quickly what they really get stroked for,” points out TI’s Skooglund, “and if the rewards come solely from shipping product or making financial forecasts, then that’s the drumbeat they’re going to march to. And that’s a tough problem for any company’s ethics.”

However, the greatest ethical danger occurs when raises, bonuses and promotions depend on unrealistic objectives. As Gary Edwards of the Ethics Resource Center explains, “When objectives are set improperly–too aggressively or without respect for a particular unit’s inability to meet a goal that may be reasonable for the corporation overall–all kinds of unethical conduct can be generated.” Another major challenge in incorporating ethical values into an organization, then, is to set objectives which stretch employees to the full extent of their capacities but do not push them to the point where they’ll be tempted to meet them by wrongdoing.

* Source:http://www.ethicsandbusiness.org/corpeth.htm

I have said before that to next logical step for SuperMedia was for sales to become local search engine marketing consultants. Scott Klein could not have done a better job of accomplishing the opposite. Corporate decisions that are based on the SPMD Stock Price and not a focus on training, fulfillment, and return on investments to clients. Instead of the stock being a good purchase longterm, the company changes name, declares bankruptcy, lies about fraud, and uses sales fraud and collections as a means of pumping up the value only for executives to jump off a sinking ship. Sounds like a great business plan if you are Bernie Madoff.

Meanwhile, if you are a media rep and looking for the next logical step to feeding your family, earning a living that you can be proud of, and working with the best small business owners in Dallas Fort Worth give me a call. I am working with a few investors on a creating a business model that rewards consultants for learning, then providing holistic search engine marketing services to small businesses. You won’t be able to take the time to make 80 appointments in a day. You don’t have to log fake activities to keep your job. It begins with working for yourself and not corporate America. It begins with transparency for the client. It begins with ethics.

Just to give you a hint:

Aside from Local SEO services that require years of study, there is a component to local search engine marketing that does not take brains. It is an effort. Something very basic, but is typically returned in value to the client in less than a few weeks.

This is a global search:
Branded Term or National Search vs Local Search

This is a local search:

Local Search vs National Search Optimization Dallas

When people search Google for local information, you can help small businesses across America show up in Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) . I am offering you the opportunity to open up an office in your area providing these services. You will have a fulfillment department, access to a talented web development team, and get the best local SEO advice from the Dallas SEO Guru.

Webformance is working hard to provide the best value in Internet marketing for local Dallas area businesses. Who does the same in your area? Will you?

Imagine charging a client $300.00 one time and it impacting his or her business for years! Imagine being paid a 30-50% commission on these “sales” but never having to worry about the value for the client? Imagine a clean conscience.


What is REALLY wrong with Yellow Pages company products and services?

February 4, 2010

Recently a few bankrupt Yellow Pages publishers sent letters to clients disclosing information regarding previous contracts and commitments.  Does this permit them to no longer follow SIZE & Seniority commitments to yellow pages clients?

Did you know that to curb massive revenue losses, as consumers have shifted away from print yellow pages phone books, the yellow pages industry is now offering ad seniority placement buyouts?

When Bell South began publishing mini-books other publishers quickly followed suit. When one does something… so does the other? Let’s not hope so!

Rumor is post-bankruptcy yellow pages directory publishers are considering offering “select clients” the option of jumping phone book directory placement (old contract agreements that outline size and seniority guidelines) with new “display ad placement buyout options”.

Seems like they will do anything to earn a buck, huh?

How can you trust a organization who fails to keep promises clients regarding these advertising investments. They made a commitment to the client that the ad they purchased would be placed by size and seniority from the date when the contract is signed. The print yellow pages industry has held the “decrease your ad and lose your discounts” AXE over clients heads to persuade clients into keeping ads for many years.  Is the Yellow Page industry selling products or services? Is the pricing fair? In my opinion the yellow pages industry needs to stick to products… not services.  Search Marketing service requires fulfillment and constant attention, something the print industry has very little experience in vs local advertising agencies.

Yellow Pages sites are attempting to become the local resellers of Google advertising. As a local search marketer, I don’t think the long contracts that leave little recourse and zero cancellation options in the event the Phone Book Companies PPC Management campaigns are not performing to expectations. In my opinion this is another means of continuing to grind the axe on cancellations. Without flexibility and a diverse offering (product portfolio) they are going to have continued issues with client churn.

Did you know that when you place advertising on Google’s AdWords interface, not only do you own the work produced when hiring a local search marketer, (I do not recommend  signing a 12 month contract , considering Google does not require such a contract to advertise) you also are able to see what changes your account manager and “PPC coach” made to your campaigns

PPC management Account Activity Reports prevent PPC Fraud by Google Guru

Next topic for Today:

Google Maps vs Yellow Pages searches:

Here is the graph continued and combined with Searches for Yellow Pages companies:

"Yellow Pages" is now obsolete

Who has experienced the greatest and/or most rapid decline in the Top IYP (Interactive Yellow Pages) & local search brand sites?


Notice how much Yelp.com gained compared to the decline of Superpages.com? This goes to show the consumer preference for review based sites  (and why Google was tendering an offer for Yelp.com)

FACT:  Did you know that Yellow Pages print directory usage has declined over 50%?

Has your “Yellow Page Rep” told you about the trends away from print and towards digital that is taking place?

Have print ad rates gone down to accomodate for the decline of print yellow pages and the industry fragmentation?

According to Greg Stewart from TMPDM, “Print Yellow Pages accounts for approx. 28% of Local Search.”

Primary Source of Local Business Information

I will go ahead and state my prediction: Yellow Pages Print usage will be less than 24% of Local Search by 2012! That means the phone books of 2005 (that were over 70+% of local search product or service queries) are now less than half as popular as they once were as a medium. (yet more phone books exist today than ever!

Do you think it is time the phone book publishing industry adapt to OPT IN vs a very misleading OPT OUT method? What are your thoughts? Take my poll!

Cheers,

Mike Stewart

“Your Dallas Local Google Guru”

BTW, Webformance Inc. will be offering call tracking to all clients. If you want to track your phone book, direct mail, email, Google, Video, Business Card, or other advertising investments and see which ones are really bringing the calls….. all you need to do is call: 214-267-9553!

“You can’t manage to get the best advertising if you can’t measure what advertising efforts work!” – Mike Stewart the Local Dallas Google Guru


The best local small business PPC service does not come in a box…..

January 29, 2010

So you signed a contract for Pay Per Click from the yellow pages?So I was driving by McDonald’s yesterday while on the phone with a local Dallas area business owner, the comedic timing for my comments to him could not have been any better.

Prepare for another soapbox soliloquy:

I said to him, “You don’t expect the so-called internet advertising experts at the yellow pages company, who state they offer “transparency in reporting,” to actually incorporate Google Analytics do you? I explained to him that when the Yellow pages industry started feeling the shift from consumers away from the printed phone books that litter millions of doorsteps, and finally decided that they needed to create an advertising product to grow alongside the world’s #1 search engine Google, they had very little focus and very little experience. It wasn’t that folks in the phone book industry were not smarter than I am. It wasn’t that they didn’t have the ability to put businesses in front of consumers on the internet. The real issue was fulfillment and transparency.

FACT: PPC campaign managers were on gag order and instructed not to disclose the number of PPC accounts managed.

FACT: 12 month contracts only work for print yellow page ads (since the books can not be undelivered)

FACT: Google and Yahoo do not have contracts for internet advertising

FACT: Yellow Pages PPC marketers use your data to build competitors campaigns

FACT: If your campaign does not perform, you are required to pay 400-1000.00 per month or more for management regardless of clicks…. for the ENTIRE 12 MONTH TERM!

FACT: PPC costs are higher when doing PPC with YELLOW PAGES (just look at the margins and overhead)

FACT: LOCAL SEARCH MARKETERS are on the rise…..

FACT: Management fees should not be a fixed cost. They should be billed hourly or transparent.

FACT: SEO is not as complex as the industry leads you to believe.

FACT: Wide spread abuse of Google AdWords Certifications exams exists at Yellow Pages organizations.

FACT: Yellow Pages do not build your brand, your website, or your Google AdWords campaign…. You have a bad experience and cancel your contract…………………………………. YOU LOSE EVERYTHING!

He told me that he and other business owners were in the process of filing a suit against a yellow pages company located in Dallas for click fraud. I asked him, “How can you prove it?” He stated that when he put analytics in the site, he was shocked to see that Google was not tracking the same data that the Yellow Pages company was billing him. I wonder to what extent business owners are experiencing this same problem? How many “bad experiences” exist for the business owners that rely on the “Marketing in a Box” products from the Yellow Pages?

It seems to me, as a fellow small business owner, the choice is very clear…..

Don’t expect to get good advice from Phone Book or Super dooper Media companies for your internet advertising!

“YOU CAN’T PUT LOCAL INTERNET MARKETING AND SOCIAL MEDIA BRANDING IN A BOX!”Mike Stewart

Instead of signing a contract for a SuperHappySearchMarketing Meal served with “Kool-Aid” and cronyism….. find a local search marketer who will train, teach, consult, create, innovate, strategize, quantify, measure, fulfill, and be accountable for your businesses growth and prosperity.

NO CONTRACTS FOR PPC ADVERTISING * OWN YOUR WEBSITE * MEASURE YOUR WEB TRAFFIC * BUILD AN ARTICLE BASE


SuperMedia’s SuperYellowpages.com has real potential with Apple PC Tablet

January 27, 2010

In my opinion, putting a phonebook on the internet only works to save money shipping phonebooks to India’s telemarketers. When Scott Klein announced his initiatives last February to a room filled with 3000 sales consultants ( an effort to pump them full of that good Super Kool-Aid stuff,) I am sure I wasn’t the only one feeling sick to my stomach.

I now see potential in http://www.SuperYellowPages.com when combined with the Apple Tablet….what better way for the company to end dependance on a saturated and fragmented print publishing and delivery business? There are more phone books printed in the U.S. than people and VerizonYP/Idearc/SuperMedia only distributes to larger urban markets vs its predecessor GTE Yellow Pages. Idearc was not the first to create an online version of print. Southwestern Bell Yellow Pages sent CD’s to offices to curb distribution waste. Area-Wide created an online version of its print directories years ago vs focusing on a real IYP offering to compete with SuperPages.com, YellowPages.com, and other IYP/digital directories.

In another 5 years, I am sure other tablets will exist. Almost all consumers will have one and I also predict that we will cease flipping pages of books, newspapers, and magazines in favor of PC Tablets. I also believe Google’s YouTube site and NetFlix will merge as well as a shift away from old antiquated Yellow Pages.

Will folks with tablets visit the SuperYellowPages site? We will soon see…… in the meantime, Klein better get his shit together and plan for what is coming….. so far his SuperGuarantee Gimmick is far from impressive (copied ServiceMagic’s Service Guarantee, which by all accounts was not something consumers took advantage of.)

Will the Apple Tablet be popular? Sure….just like smartphones and mobile web browsers. Will SuperMedia manage to keep up with changing times? It is still to early to tell.

-this was posted from my Android phone via WordPress app. Folks, Pay real close attention to mobile search and the future availability of the internet.


Multi-Level Marketing (MLMs) to Enter Search Marketing – Yellow Pages Publishers Beware!

December 30, 2009

Yesterday a former “advertising and multi media marketing coworker” asked me to join a AdzZoo Webinar.

I am forewarning and reminding folks that this blog is about myself and whatever else I feel motivated enough to share.

So on to my weak “uneducated” attempt at an AdzZoo Review:

First and foremost, the folks bringing you AdzZoo, all appear to each have many years of experience in Sales, Network Marketing, and Venture Capital/Investments.

As someone else put it here:

If you take at look at the executive team at Adzoo, they are primarily made up of old-school sales and marketing people. Which begs the question, what does someone over the age of 60 who came from marketing know about an industry that is realistically less than 10 years old and which changes by the month? The answer is obvious- very little.

AdzZoo’s team has sales experience. The folks at the Online and Print Yellow Pages seem to have more “Internet Marketing” (cough** ADVERTISING SALES **) experience and are a bit more grounded vs the pump you up and send you out nature of an MLM. Although if you have ever seen a ridiculous attempt at pumping folks up, you should see Scott Klein’s Tomorrow Show Today broadcasts or Idearc’s local sales meetings! lol
The level of search engine marketing training coming out of Idearc is very basic at best. Don’t expect advice from Idearc’s “trained media consultants” to be any better than an AdzZoo rep.


AdzZoo Offers PPC
:  So do the Yellow Pages. Although AdzZoo says it focuses on PPC initially until organic rankings can take effect and produce the results as promised. Boy are they making a promise with AdzZooClientLeave Behind

Is this guarantee doable? Sure, give me $300 cash and I can also guarantee that I can get you on the first page of Google…. but at what cost and for how long? This is were accountability and service come into play folks!

They Offer Landing Pages: Well, the Yellow Pages sorta does this…… (AT&T more so than Idearc.) To be honest with you AdzZoo seems to be kicking yellow page website designers asses. This is horrific!

They Offer Google LBL (Google MAPS): So does Idearc/SuperMedia via Google crawling and indexing Superpages.com results, but Idearc does not recommend or offer support to claim listings which is what Google recommends.
Now some will argue that they are charging clients for what is FREE, as is the case with Google Maps, is a scam. But, if you consider the amount of listings that are unclaimed of folks who do not even have the basic understanding of local search, it maybe argued that AdzZoo is providing better service than that of IYP companies such as Local.com, CitySearch, and Superpages.com. Part of the Google Map listings are based on Google Maps Local Ranking Factors and another component is the Local Business Sponsored Link Ads which is a pay-per-click Adwords option to get in the maps. Now this is a strategy I always recommend for PPC clients

For years, I’ve recommended to clients to claim the businesses local business listings on Google. It is FREE and just takes a few minutes. Claimed listings are ranked higher than listings that are not claimed. Google Maps has taken a big hit to the Internet Yellow Pages companies like Idearc/SuperMedia’s www.Superpages.com Here is a video from Google on claiming your listing for FREE. David Mihm has a list of the local search ranking factors here:

Yellow Page sites traffic on decline due to Google Map display on SERPs

AdzZoo doesn’t have a website ranked in the top 25 of all sites, but if you have looked at SuperPages.com or other online Yellow Pages site traffic, you can see that Google has cut a big chunk. As well as the fact that keyword searches for “Super Pages” or “Yellow Pages” on Google are down significantly. This was caused not by the Yellow Pages consumers adapting or going directly to the sites directly (approx. 30% of SuperPages.com’s users visit the site directly vs clicking from Google Search Results,) but Google done a better job over the years of catching and surpassing to the folks at the Yellow Pages after the early days of the internet. The maps has made huge dents in the Internet Yellow Pages industry revenues.

New Slogan

In the early years, the yellow pages got ahead of Google by leveraging the print data and phone company listing information on its internet brands, such as http://www.SmartPages.com, YellowPages.com, http://www.Superpages.com etc.  (Currently they are getting beat in innovating subscriber’ship’ by YELP, AngiesList.com, and other hyper-local directories. I believe a good measurement of success for any directory is the number of subscribers.)  When you own the listing data (like Verizon or GTE or Southwestern Bell) it makes it easy to have more than a startup company like Google. This is no longer an advantage as Google has improved the ability to find and collect the listings data. What hurt the print yellow pages telephone company publisher before, competition from independent publishers who now have telephone company listing data without the huge costs associated with it,  is now impacting the future success of the industry. One of the reasons Idearc is the land of discontent to some degree. Hard to sell clients on SuperPages.com when it is less than 10% of local internet advertising.

I would have thought that a local directory would have already joined the Google Content Network and work-out a better and stronger relationship with Google. One that benefits advertisers and the publishers. Givin’ the cash that Idearc CEO Scott Klein is bragging about being in the bank, one would think that he could bring that to the table with Google. Stop trying to beat Google Scott…. this is not Coke vs Pepsi…. this is Coke vs Hansens.

As you can see by the chart above, less and less folks are looking for Yellow Pages.  All of this has resulted in a shift away from traditional print publishers for the internet space. I am not terribly optimistic about multi-level marketing (MLMs), but I will say that AdzZoo seems to have an edge on my previous employer Idearc Media.

Multi-Level Marketing offers low start-up costs, low overhead, strength in commitment, an endless supply of sellers. For a product that can be simplified such as AdzZoo is attempting to do here, I have a feeling that if the “Campaign Managers” can become educated and accountable, this may be a legitimate entrance of MLM’s in the traditional local small business advertising market.

AdzZoo will have more sales reps than Yellow Pages. AdzZoo’s sales reps will have individual websites. AdzZoo will have more “sales and promotion” websites than phone book publishers. I was one of the few that recommended Idearc adapt personal blogs and pages for Media Consultants. Idearc doesn’t seem to want folks selling internet marketing to utilize more than 20% of his or her brain apparently! lol

AdzZoo Offers SEO: WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER. Traditional phone book publishers have yet to figure out a means of monetizing search engine optimization. The fact that AdzZoo is entering the market with an SEO offering is why I feel they are going to have a strong impact on local search sales. For years I, MIKE STEWART, have bitched, moaned, and groaned about my previous employer, Idearc Media, lack of focus on organic search beyond focusing on ranking Superpages.com. I had a few recommendations on how to do it, but Bill Brewer the new guy in charge of Idearc’s National Sales and Local Texas Sales Office decided to let me go vs. allowing me to opportunity to change the course and influence the direction of Idearc. But hey, I only put 9 years into the organization. What did I know about selling and servicing advertising for local businesses? Idearc wants telemarketers. They should have just became AdzZoo if you ask me! lol

Simply put, SEO & Social Media Marketing is where local internet small business marketers need to be. Paid Search marketing costs will continue to increase as the volume of searches increases. Although conversion rates and clicks per user are dependent on landing page optimization, paid search will continue to become more expensive vs less. Equity deals will also become the norm.

I am somewhat concerned about AdzZoos use of a subdomain for clients page. I don’t think Google will rank multiple AdzZoo pages for the same keyword on the first page. I agree with AdzZoo that seldom do consumers see more than the 1st or second page. Those other “gazillion” results mean very little. Google’s talent in indexing those is almost a waste if you ask me! The use of subdomain is very similar to what I recommended to Idearc as a Media Consultant for SEO, www.Ecordia.com ‘s Content Hub.

I have a feeling folks would be more inclined to purchase “ambiguously priced search marketing programs from friends and family with the latest get rich quick scheme to make money leveraging a business owners network vs a 12 month contract for only Google Pay Per Click Management that is irreversible and backed by credit and collections attorneys in the event something go wrong. You see, if Idearc / SuperMedia ‘s SMLOCAL does not produce results, which happens often, since they offer very little (if anything) as far as landing page optimization (unlike AT&T Yellow Pages.com who recently partnered with WebVisible to create landing pages,) you still get stuck with the management fee. In most cases they charge clients 12 months at $700-800.00 per month to “manage” basic pay per click campaigns on Google and Superpages.com with a targeted monthly spend of around 2000.00 per month. So total fees are around 2700.00 per month for only Pay Per Click advertising. Not a very good value if you ask me considering the churn in consultants and clients not getting to own the work they paid Idearc / SuperMedia to produce, but hey… they are in it for the profit folks! If it wasn’t for the Executives at the Unions, very few folks would be able to live like Idearc’s CEO Scott Klein. Let’s say you get behind on your bill due to the lack of true calls from Idearc’s lack of management of Google dangerous content network and decide to cancel your account with Idearc / SuperMedia, now you get to start building your own Google campaign from from scratch.

The one simple reason’s my business plan will succeed…. there is only one method of doing local correctly:

Partner a Website Developer with a talented Search Engine Optimizer who both specialize in Social Media. Build that around a team of talented Pay Per Click Paid Search Professionals, add an honors graduate Video Developer from the Dallas Art Institute, and you have the ultimate offer in local internet marketing.

Call SMB SEO.  214-267-9553

Now…. duplicating this process over and over? That takes money. Something I am not so fortunate to have enough of, unlike Idearc & Scott Klein or the folks at AdzZoo!

For only $300.00 to join AdzZoo, I think I might just try it. Seems to have potential to work well for folks in lesser populated and internet savvy areas outside of Dallas. Heck, AdzZoo and my knowledge of local search marketing might be a heck of a combination! Although, I am skeptical about AdzZoo’s ability to achieve high Google rankings in urban and suburban markets that have above average computer usage, I feel they may be a better offer than traditional print Yellow Pages internet marketing offerings.

Please feel free to discuss this! If you want to remain private just let me know and I will edit your comments before approving them!

I hope everyone has a prosperous and memorable 2010! Happy New Year!

Cheers,

Mike Stewart

The Local Dallas Google Guru

P.S. Don’t forget to comment. I can’t wait to finish http://www.YellowCrooks.com. Thanks to Scott Klein for the great idea! Look for it to launch in 2010! Look for Internet Yellow Pages companies to IP block it in 2010! LOL

Accountability and Fulfillment….. who will win? The MLM or the IYP?

Here is another video review of AdzZoo:



“Idearc Challenge” to CEO Scott Klein – Carry the Bag

December 20, 2009

https://i0.wp.com/www.quilladvertising.com/CaseStudies/idearcImage.jpgAn “IdearcChallenge” from me to CEO of Idearc Media, Scott Klein, is to “carry the bag” for just one week.  Show your reps how to manage 30 appointments in one day.

Just spend one week out in the field. Until you can show that you are able, willing, and capable of carrying the bag….. everything you say is just lip service.

That’s my .02 cents.

Most of Idearc’s talented sales managers, folks like Steve Ridgeway, former employee John Seidenstein, Scott Laver, Dave Lewis, and countless other folks all around the country, who I admire and respect, have all carried the bag. It changes your perception on what it is to “sell advertising.” Once you have done it, your understanding of the task and it’s challenges differ greatly than that of the folks in corporate towers, marketing departments,  and those bean-counters in the finance departments.

NEWSFLASH: SALES IS EASY WHEN THE PRODUCT WORKS, YOU HAVE A BETTER APPROACH, YOU MANAGE TO RESULTS, YOUR CULTURE REWARDS EMPHATICALLY ACCOUNTABILITY AFTER THE SALE.

I am not at all impressed with the direction my former employer, bankrupt Verizon Yellow Pages publisher Idearc Media, is headed. Your sales model is wrong. Why? Because it is a sales model. To become a small and medium-sized business marketing and advertising consultant you must carry the bag. Unfortunately for business owners not all bag carriers are capable of being marketing consultants. Some just know how to sell advertising and not how to actually advertise. Do you have a clue about what questions to ask a business to identify areas of improvement? Do you know how to determine whether your client is a candidate for your solutions based sales process and products? Or do you still think that all businesses need to invest in Idearc/SuperMedia advertising? Scott Klein seems to think that every business in America needs a ad in the phone book, based on his expectations of 30 appointments per day.

How can you sell the product the same as it was years ago? You can’t? It is a quicker conversation when it is understood that you must advertise in the phone book. Now with a fragmented local search market, yellow pages is no longer the only solution. Idearc Dallas Gallup Usage Study (Idearc Fort Worth Gallup Research.) Not as convincing as it was years ago. So why is Idearc’s Search Marketing Local product difficult to sell? Price. Ambiguous Contracts. Longterm Agreements. Lack of Arbitration. In the Event of Failure To Perform Recourse. Lack of Accountability from Sales. Poorly Designed Bid Processes and Keyword Research. Poor Effort to Incorporate Analytics and Web Design Conversion Strategies…. shall I keep going? Honestly, I think if someone is doing PPC outside of Google Adwords, Adwords Editor, and other effective and transparent tools from Google, they are just getting scammed. The problem is, they need high margins and a means of recovering from the losses of Yellow Pages Print Decline. Currently just about 91% of Idearc’s core business is Print Yellow Pages last I checked.

Another A.D.D. Moment:

(stay tuned for http://www.DallasDIYPPC.com, don’t lose the time and talent invested in your Google & Yahoo PPC campaigns by choosing companies who use proprietary systems and offer zero campaign ownership)

Klein needs to realize his biggest assets are not the companies systems (SuperMcTool), but the companies people. Including the campaign managers. I have seen many previous Idearc PPC managers at area PPC training courses such as the Google AdWords Seminars for Success and the Dallas Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association meetings. It is usually after they leave Idearc and reach out to learn more advanced techniques. The talent at Idearc never touches Idearc Client websites. They have a different department for company sites than client sites. Take a look at this site for an example of the YP companies website design work:

http://www.allactionftworthcarpetcleaning.com/ pretty horrible if you ask me! Take a look at what 43 phone calls to AT&T will produce: http://www.TheTransmissionShop.com. You may ask why it took 43 phone calls for him to get this sort of quality site, but I assume that is just the nature of the Yellow Pages Website Development departments. Not the employees faults, as I assume they just work with what they have available. No kidding but the carpet cleaner attempted a redesign but the developer said they can not change the colors on the “website templates.” Both sites being redesigned by a more competent web developer.

Might be a good time to migrate to something 2005+ vs 2001 prior. Something not made for IE6 browsers? Something like Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, or ModX CMS?

Scott, I think it is time for you to show your “media consultants” how it is done! Just spend one week carrying the bag. See how long you can refrain from leveraging your position as a CEO. If you can better understand the trials and tribulations related to your “sales business model” and start chipping away at them…..

You might just become a better CEO for a media corporation. Take a look at TMP Worldwide’s division 15Miles as an example.

https://i1.wp.com/recycledcrafts.craftgossip.com/files/2009/03/phone-book-organizer.jpg

YOU MIGHT START THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX…   or as we used to call it:

“The high security corporate back offices at the Airport” with the lavish bathrooms and corporate concierge service.

What is Google’s likely response to the SuperGuarantee?

The Voice of the Customer

“All a consumer has to do is pay by credit card and they will have a faster recourse of action when something goes wrong then to deal with this slow process offered by Idearc that only refunds you $500. The SuperGuarantee is just a gimmick. It was copied from ServiceMagic. Idearc knows they will not have to pay out claims. It is betting on it.” – Some Fool Wiser than the CEO of Idearc

“A new gimmick won’t stop the companies train wreck leadership.” – Mike Stewart


In Google WE Trust…..

November 23, 2009

CitySearch & Yelp have a higher percentage of traffic from Search Engines

What Percent of Traffic to IYP Sites Come From Search Engines?

In Google WE Trust……In Google We Trust

and in Internet Yellow Pages sites you don’t.

A question many business marketers ask me is:   Should I advertise in the online yellow pages sites? And what budget should I allocate?

Local Search traffic details year over year

Online Yellow Page directory sites such as Superpages.com, Yellowpages.com, CitySearch.com, Yelp.com, and YellowBook.com accounted for approximately 1/3 of all local search traffic in 2008. Since then Google, who has approx. 77% of all internet searches, has made big changes to the way it displays local search results. This change to the “10-Pack” of listings, Google Local Business Listings or LBL results, has made a huge dent into the overall traffic to IYP sites.  So considering that IYP sites account for less than 30% of overall local search traffic, why would you give an IYP company more than 30% of your online advertising budget?

My answer to the question of How much money should I allocate to sites like Superpages.com and Yellow Pages.com for my internet advertising budget would be no more than 30% divided up according to ComScore data.

Now the next question: Which online yellow pages sites should get the larger share of my local search budget? In my professional opinion it is best to see which sites have a higher ranking under your targeted keywords. For instance, Let’s say you have a local Dallas Divorce Attorney website, if you conduct a search on Google for “Dallas Divorce Attorney” you will see FindLaw as the only directory in the first page results on Google. I would advise this client to list with FindLaw to be listed on this:  http://lawyers.findlaw.com/lawyer/firm/Divorce/Dallas/Texas page result.  You always want to be listed where the traffic is going to from the major search engines like Google and Yahoo, and the other even more significant reason to be listed is that it will help your SEO efforts. Your ranking on Google is dependent upon being linked to from other popular results. You want to create an authority with Google and you cannot become an authority without links that build this authority. Who is the authority on Google for “Dallas Divorce Attorney”? Google ranks your website based on authority.

If you online budget for pay per click is $2,000.00 per month, I would allocate around $400-$600 per month to the online Yellow Pages sites.  A suggested budget allocation would be as follows:

$250 to Superpages.com

$250 to Yellowpages.com

$100 to other high Google ranking IYP’s for your keyword search phrases

To achieve high organic web page rankings on Google you must first understand that SEO or Search Engine Optimization is 40% your website keywords, articles, and content and 60% depends on links, social media, and overall off-page authority of your website. Local IYP sites are great tools to build authority. Most local directory sites offer a “FREE Listing” or profile page that you can “optimize”. This profile or listing is very important to your organic rankings. A large percentage of the traffic to local search sites is from people looking for “white pages” type information. It is very important to take this into account and avoid paying a premium for leads and traffic from existing clients who are looking for your business contact information. This is easily accomplished with Google AdWords with bid management strategies. I have seen IYP sites charge clients for business name searches the same fees it charges for new client leads (around $2.50 per click or more).

You Don’t Want Traffic, You Don’t Even Really Want Clicks……. YOU WANT CONVERSIONS!

CONVERSIONS = CONVERSATIONS

If your Google Adwords Reseller is only giving you Clicks and Call Reports without discussing your website converting visitors into conversations, it is time for you to stop giving them money for HORRIBLE advice, or lack thereof.

As far a concerns about click fraud, I would not participate in ANY online marketing without detailed analytics. One of my former managers at Idearc Media once told me years ago that “treatment without diagnosis is malpractice” and I have been telling my clients for years that you can’t manage what you can’t measure (“management without measurement” is an Internet Marketing malpractice“.)

Be cautious of a company that offers a bid system on top of Google’s perfected bid system. It is not as challenging to manage PPC ads as many Google resellers and PPC lead companies may lead you to think. Paying for phone calls has always been the most effective means of tracking ROI to advertising. Phone calls is only a measurement of ROI, not a very good measurement of what is going on with your potential clients thoughts and whether they saw your ad, read your message, and felt about your website. The combination of Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Landing Page creation, Ad Testing, and Google Voice is an extremely strong offer to local small and medium-sized businesses.

You Know Your PPC Company is Doing It All Wrong When They Charge You The Same Fee Per Click for Traffic Regardless of Conversions & Quality!

My agency offers affordable PPC management for a flat fee with no contract.

Why buy the cow when the milk is free? If you want to buy the cow…….. I can “sell” Daisy to you as well!

No agency should own the PPC work that you pay for… that includes the ReachLocal and Yellow Pages companies.

Give me a call! 214-267-9553.

I look forward to serving your Dallas Search Engine Marketing needs soon!

Cheers,

Mike Stewart