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It’s all about them words June 25, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in advertising, business strategy, marketing.
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A few years back I did a consulting gig on a print directory service everyone is familiar with. The project looked at how digital media was changing the landscape they existed in and they were interested in finding out how they could continue to be profitable while these changes happened. In the end the recommendation was to ensure migration from the offline service to the online one, and involved a strategy for doing so. Having delivered the final report however, the response came back stating their print directory represented X-million dollars of revenue so they expected it to still be a thriving business in years to come, regardless of what we had to say.

No prizes for guessing how that turned out.

I was reminded of this when I got home one day last week to see the below in the lobby of the building I’m living in at the moment.

Yellowpages1

Yellowpages2

Now, Yellow Pages wasn’t the company so desperate to display their desire to stick their head into the sand, however they must, at some point, have had someone have a similar conversation with them. Three years ago when I was doing that project I stood in the middle of my agency and asked the entire office who had used a print directory in the last 6 months. Unless I was willing to accept “door stop” as an appropriate use, I had nothing.

It used to be if you weren’t in the Yellow Pages you didn’t have a business. Now it’s a matter of being on Google‘s pages, and you best make sure its the first one. If I was advising a company still advertising in the Yellow Pages, I would tell them to take that spend and invest it in SEO, optimising its site for core competancies and locality.

Understand I don’t think it is a good thing that a once proud business is dying, but few things are more Darwinian than business itself; ignorance should not be rewarded, nor should an inability or unwillingness to change with the times.

And we definitely shouldn’t invest in delaying the inevitable.

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Comments»

1. Daniel - June 29, 2009

I live in a 42 townhouse complex and they just left the yellow pages on top of our letterbox stand. When I saw it I thought “ha, ha, ha I will take a photo in a week of how many are still left and then write a post about it”

Thing is … most of them disappeared. I am assuming the occupants took them but it is not out of the question that the local hoods took them and burnt them!

Even Mrs Oyster took one and brought it into the house much to my disgust and protest. I commented that it would not even get taken out of the shrink wrap. She argued otherwise. After all, who gets lumped with calling the plumber, electrician etc when there is a problem? Not Mrs Oyster ;)

A month or two later I am happy to report that it sits at the bottom of the bookshelf …. Still in its shrink wrap.

I might make it “disappear” and see if she even notices.

2. David Gillespie - July 4, 2009

And I imagine that scene played out in households everywhere this year. If I were a tradesperson I would be taking whatever my investment was in the Yellow Pages and using it to get a basic website and a bunch of SEO, and perhaps a little Google Maps app that drew people in certain areas to me.


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