Tag Archives: YPA

YPA 09: Malcolm Gladwell Talks Yellow Pages

Best Selling author Malcolm Gladwell, the man behind top business tomes such as The Tipping Point, Blink, and now Outliers, spoke today at the Yellow Pages Association conference in San Diego, suggesting that the Yellow Pages advantage over Google and others is their “deep trust” with advertisers — something he may have picked up at a YPA breakfast before his speech.

But recognizing that the industry has been disrupted by technology trends and other factors, Gladwell provided three lessons that allows a David to beat a Goliath. To paraphase:

1- Don’t exaggerate the challenges. Sometimes a series of thoughtful, little steps can change the course of events. Everyone said New York City would require a Manhattan Project to recover from its desolate state in the early 1990s. But it only took three years and relatively small initiatives such as community policing, he noted.

2- Reframe the issue. Yellow Pages can’t be seen as an obsolete big fat book. Look at how the iPod won by being turned into a fashion statement instead of a complex technological advance.

3- Leverage “social connectors.” A small percentage of people who review products, check prices and stimulate interest in a product are always a major key to success.

“If you are willing to challenge convention and work harder, you can win,” said Gladwell. It was a privilege to hear him (and have him autograph some copies of Outliers).

Malcolm Gladwell at YPA 09

Malcolm Gladwell at YPA 09

YPA 09: National Advertisers Remain Loyal to Yellow Pages

National Yellow Pages advertisers appearing on a YPA Conference panel moderated by the Kelsey Group’s Charles Laughlin reiterated the importance of Yellow Pages to their businesses. While they were open-minded about experimenting with new types of directional advertising, including Yelp, Internet Yellow Pages and search, print clearly remains their core effort.

“Yellow Pages is core to the growth and sustainability” of the moving industry, said Chris Boorink, director of product development, Allied and North American Van Lines. “Print has been the bread and butter. We are bullish on print in many ways.”

Boorink added that it was “all about the tracking. A good CMR (Certified Marketing Rep) will be able to show local advertisers the opportunities that they may be missing out in the local marketplace. (For instance), what books are we not in that we are missing out on? We had an agent in Denver who didn’t know what was out there in the marketplace. By overlaying data, we were able to show which regions we were not covering, even though leads were coming in. That’s a great success story.

John Vitagliano, VP of Marketing, Meineke Car Car Centers, Inc., noted that Yellow Pages receives one-third of his advertising budget. “It is one of our highest ROIs,” he said. Meineke, in fact, has a huge investment in Yellow Pages over the years. “We want to protect that investment,” he noted. The issue for Meineke isn’t whether it will stay in the book. It is whether it wants to be (only) competitive versus dominant.

Whether Meineke’s loyalty ultimately conveys to the Yellow Pages industry’s electronic products, however, remains to be seen. “We’re very interest and excited about new things from Yellow Pages,” Vitagliano said. But Meineke is currently spending very little on Internet Yellow Pages. “We evaluate IYP with all the other Internet options out there,” including review sites and search, he says. “The other options have been generating a better return for us.

“Yelp looks like a more sustainable model,” noted Vitagliano. “ We have one dealer who is encouraging people to rate him online, and he is seeing business from that. He is not just protecting his reputation, but getting lead generation. He is seeing the benefit from that.”

Ultimately, it really isn’t about using one channel or another, Vitagliano added. “What we need is a better integration of local advertising opportunities: Internet, print and some things beyond that. We are looking for a local expert.”