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.

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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.


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!


Who uses the yellow pages?

December 11, 2010

Who uses the yellowpages?

Via Greg Sterling at Screenwerk:

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older folks.

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rural folks.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone say “nobody uses the yellowpages,” I would have been able to retire just 5 years into my near decade long career of selling and consulting on phone book advertising for Verizon Yellowpages and SuperPages.com.

To those that think people do not use yellowpages, I must disagree. Many people use the yelowpages every single day.

When I sold ads in Dallas, it was a challenge selling ads because in business perception often becomes reality.

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For example, when the United States Department of Transportation created the interstate highway system we ultimately created the suburbs. We killed the traffic going through Route 66 towns, but over the course of the next few years rural towns became almost extinct.  Just think of what the railroad did to towns that didn’t get rail lines a century before. This is apart of our country’s history. Technology and innovation lead to a migration of business growth and opportunity, from one media to another. Radio fueled the end of the Holocaust.

YELLOW PAGES ARE A BIG PART OF AMERICAN HISTORY.

I respect the contribution to local economies by the phone book. It was a catalyst for commerce and the creator of small business entrepreneurs everywhere.

Telecom employee unions also helped create high paying jobs for sales people and sales managers consulting in advertising solutions inside this simple product.

The suburbs are the future death of the yellowpages, because of mobile smart phone technology, saturation distribution, yellowpages industry fragmentation, and years of price-gouging and sleazy sales tactics by industry veterans. The phone book publishers now have a bad reputation amongst consumers and small business owners.

The phonebook has a continued chance of survival in Route 66 towns and most suburbs by catering to older, poorer, and less educated consumers. The age of phone book users are baby boomers with stable jobs and disposable incomes. Most of those that want to make the most educated and social buying decisions in suburban and urban markets won’t use the phone book. No matter how many books, with little incentive to use, you put on their porches, you will never see usage greater than 20% in urban markets.

Do yellow pages companies have a future? Sure. Just not the phone companies who were driven to fail by investors, bankruptcies, and greed.

Decisions by dumb bean counters and marketing reps at Verizon ended the focus in rural markets.

Verizon Telco pulled out of San Angelo Tx and the town hated losing it’s largest employer next to the city. The yellow pages death in San Angelo wasn’t caused by Verizon’s departure, but by the focus on margins and not putting resources or the business community first.

I witnessed this business model shift while just 19 years old working in the TCC Call Center in 2001 as a media consultant. ( First rep to never miss quota for 26 conscutive pay periods, I later received 3 President’s Awards at Texas Division Sales. ) First was ending the agreement to publish for CenturyTel, AllTel, and other independent telcos. Sprint took advantage of this. The rise of YellowBook as a serious competitor to the telco monopolies of the yellow pages industry. No longer where independent publishers not privy to the service order records for B1 and Residential phones lines. Independent publishers began publishing cheaper and more localized phonebooks. The creation of the independant publishers association began.

As a Board of Directors Member of the Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association, the first and largest search marketing group in the country, I am proud to be apart of the history in small business local search commerce.

I appreciate the role of yellow pages.

Just 7 years ago over 78% of Americans used the Yellow Pages print. Today that number represents less than 20%, contrary to what publishers try to tell you.

A old saying is “58% of all commercial statistics are false.” This is defined by industry research paid for by industry companies to the same researchers and analysts.

The future of the yellow pages will be in subscription-based magazines or hyper-local publishers.

Can the yellow pages successfully integrate content, group buying, and value to consumers leveraging the future technology of paper and tablets? We will see. I believe in the value of display advertising. Let’s hope phonebook companies recognize that display ads are in its future, or the reason for its death, like Route 66.

I have to admit, I love the small towns. I am from Rouse City Tx and my Grandma owned a Feed Store.

Can Yellowpage companies create small business advertising consultants offering a large bag of solutions incorporating content and transparency? Will the entire phonebook become call tracking lines for ROI measurement like we offer with internet marketing services?

The future will tell.

-posted from my DroidX


Blogs and Blogging: Social Media Today and SEO for Local Search Tomorrow.

November 30, 2010

Google is better than you

Just a prediction folks. It is common sense really.

Content takes all different kinds of forms: Social content, Blog content, Video Content, etc….

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When folks at the Yellow Pages company I worked for found out that I enjoyed forums and blogging, they said I was a geek. Many of the people involved in marketing functions of the company laughed.

A GEEK? Sure, call me that. I don’t mind. In my opinion, they just don’t get it. They can’t. They seem to earn friends by influence and business success. Not so much with social skills and communication.

Some executives and marketing managers earn their stripes. Most get them because of who they know… kinda like a club. As I stated before, when you reach the pinnacle of power in Corporate America you have typically had your ego stroked to the point of no return. You become unapproachable and unwilling to adapt to a changing environment. Heck, most CMOs don’t even comprehend how to manage based on objectives and results vs features/benefits/activity. Folks in many marketing channels are not compensated on a budget or objective, but by numbers.

This reminds me of how the Government measures the direction and success of the economy based on the number of people unemployed vs the productivity of a particular industry, or for instance, the rise in Government jobs that pay people to do busy work vs productivity or ROI.

So, who is it that drives the innovation and success of a businesses marketing channels? It is the product creators and problem solvers that create future business opportunities. In my opinion, it is the SEO and computer geeks that can understand what is coming next or what the next big problem that needs to be solved, thus creating opportunities for innovation and investment.

It is the ideas that originate from solving simple problems, improving communication and making decisions.

Simple concerns like: Imagine how great it would be if a contractor or home service company could really define his/her service area…. like pins on a map. Now consider that Google has recently being rumored to be interested in buying Groupon.com, the strongest player in a fragmented online coupon market and group buying site, for a price tag rumored at $6 Billion, do you think FourSquare or Gowalla are next on the local buyout? Considering the opportunities and growth of local search…… I wouldn’t count it out.

You would never see Google pay that kind of money for a Yellow Pages company, although YP sales professionals will continue to pray. Lol.

Content is King. You here this all the time.

LOCAL SEARCH will become {more} content based.

What kind of content? Blog content, price content, news content. What about image and video content? You need to understand what makes sites like Yelp.com (who apparently just recently fell out of the love and admiration of Google) and MerchantCircle.com so favorable for local citations. In my opinion the challenge for MerchantCircle is just horrible usability and an outdated Aol-esque look and feel.

If your small business directory and online yellow pages site ( or smb website for that matter) does not have a platform for blogging, a forum,community online, or social media interaction model for advocates, you will lose any opportunity for SEO tomorrow.

SEO is no longer meta-titles and descriptions folks.

Social media is 50% SEO, and 50% marketing and customer service. All of this requires strategic processes too complex for the yellow pages industries new rep every year bi-annual sales cycle.

Get a clue corporate America. Sometimes sharing how you really feel, think, and what you love can be a beautiful thing. Businesses will be forced to participate or take a back seat. Previously local search was about who could afford the fattest phonebook ad, had the most resources and the biggest phone bill.

It is amazing how folks with the most resources at their disposal have no clue how to use them. Your old way of doing business is dead. The old way of local advertising without sharing details beyond the page or broshure wont work. Businesses need to share authority to rank online.

SEO = Blogging

Tell your clients. Tell your SMBs. Tell your investors. Then go tell your real advocates and lobbyists.

Read the rest of this entry »


Do people use yellow pages online vs Google?

November 20, 2010

Stats by Dallas SEO Consultant Mike Stewart at SMB SEO

Local Search has changed. Take a look at the following graphs.

A picture is worth a thousand words… in this case it might also be worth $$$ Thousands of Dollars $$$

Are you advertising where the traffic is?

comScore Local Search Marketshare Market Share Graph IYP Searchvs

comScore.com IYP Properties by Share of IYP Searches Q1 2007 vs Q1 2006

As you can see, search engines are taking local search searches from internet yellow pages sites and local directories. Increased competition in the local search landscape or industry fragmentation has also created a challenge for the IYP (internet/interactive yellow pages) and local search directory listing providers.

Local search traffic is now in the hands of social media sites, mobile browsers, and Google/Facebook Places. Check-in sites like Gowalla and FourSquare are also going to help connect with the who, what, where, and when…. something the phone book companies just don’t get! Even companies like Local.com are growing in marketshare, while traffic and marketshare to Yellow Pages sites like SuperPages.com and other IYPs keeps declining. They can’t use the “more people to distribute rule here.” They, like the print companies, are failing to compete with mobile and social media!