Kelsey’s Drilling Down on Local 07: YellowPages – huh?

23 Mar

Seems like everyone is confused about everything.

We talked to quite a few Yellowpage companies. From Yellowbook to SuperPages to regional and independent yellowpages companies, many of them were there. And none of them knew what to do.

We had a real enlightening chat with a person who worked at a regional yellowpages company. He said that he would be attending a YP conference sometimes in the next two weeks, and he was preparing for the same barrage of confusion that they always pull out – ‘what about the internet?’ Sure, some of them are getting online. Some of them are getting with the time, realizing their brands and sales forces they have assembled are fantastic. But in general, for the last 10 years (he runs their internet division), that is all they have done – ask ‘is the internet worth it?’ If people thought newspapers struggled with inertia, then they haven’t seen what the yellowpages are upto.

Another interesting tidbit we gleamed was that these companies do not care (much) about the data itself (ie what we are selling at iBegin Source). Their true focus is on advertising. Not only selling, but upselling (far easier in terms of effort vs return). These companies could potentially compete in the marketplace – but they are all too focused on just the ad sales.

There were some interesting battle stories. One of the most bizarre went as follows:

Two brothers each had their own rug business. And they hated each other. Both were big YP advertisers, and they would continually call in to cancel the others’ advertising print. They would pull all sort of tactics, such as calling on the weekends, confusing the weekend help (with a barrage of obscenities and what not, customer support just tries to you you off the phone). Eventually it got so bad that they had to do a lock on both their accounts. The only way any change could occur was if they went down to the store and saw the owner’s ID. In the end, one of the brothers ended up going to jail … for burning the other brother’s business down

YP data is the other problem with data categorization. Imagine you are looking at two pages – on the left is ‘Carpet Cleaning’ and on the right is ‘Carpet Drying’. Often times the categories do not have an obvious endpoint/startpoint. Someone who is doing data entry that sees an ad somewhere in the middle – what category will he chose? A lot of errors arise that way.

Next up: newspapers.

3 Responses to Kelsey’s Drilling Down on Local 07: YellowPages – huh?



July 11th, 2007 at 4:48 pm

It’s frustrating to see how many businesses are still not even considering the internet… and to see how many people just don’t think about it, but still LIKE to advertise in the old way.

The great thing about the internet, is– if you’re clever– there are ways you can advertise for free. But, the problem is that many people don’t even think about it, and will rather pay a fortune for an advert in a newspaper or YP, yet not know that they could get the same return by thinking of the internet or e-mail, for very little (if any) actual money.

My mom’s business paid a fortune for a newspaper ad and didn’t really have any response to it. I’m still trying to let them see that they could have rather taken the risk through the internet… and probably received some response, as well. So, hopefully they’ll see the light soon!



July 11th, 2007 at 5:11 pm

Yeah – it is a gradual process, and definitely lots of resistance from older people. But once it does happen … mmm …. ;)


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January 14th, 2008 at 8:46 am

You’ve just mentioned a couple of important issues that YP should really tackle. Although some merchants are already available online, more people are still dependent to YP. I hope you can also post some update and some photos about the said event.