Every Yellow Pages publisher is trying to answer the question of how to increase revenues through the addition or enhancement of an Internet Yellow Pages product. The larger publishers are able to hire a team of highly skilled and increasingly experienced experts who can help them develop the optimal IYP product and become media integrators for their customers. It’s not an easy task, but their management clearly knows the importance of positioning themselves for an increasingly electronic world.
Smaller publishers face a different challenge because they can’t employ a full-time group to manage their IYP operations. Still, these companies know they need some form of IYP to generate new revenues, diversify their revenue stream and prepare for the future. In preparation for a presentation I am giving at the ADP’s annual mid-year convention in Salt Lake City, Sept. 6-9, I interviewed executives from the four companies that have the lion’s share of business relationships with smaller publishers: Steve Mitchener of Dirxion, Edie Carver of Information Pages, Bob Burger of Innovectra and Julius Meaux of Local Matters. I asked each of them a simple question: If you were a Yellow Pages publisher with sales of about $10 million, how would you build your IYP so you could compete with Superpages.com, Yellowpages.com, YellowBook.com and DexKnows.com, as well as Yahoo!, Google, AOL, Microsoft, Ask and Local.com?
Not surprisingly, each of these four executives said it is urgent that every publisher establish an online presence. All four considered themselves strategic partners to publishers to help them grow their businesses. It was interesting how their strategies diverged beyond that, suggesting to me that there is a difference between these four industry suppliers.
At the annual ADP convention earlier this year, Todd McKnight of Names and Numbers, chairman of the ADP’s Interactive Committee, asked the publishers in the room how many of them had an online presence. He reported that three-quarters of the hands went up. When he followed up with “how many of you have a plan for Internet Yellow Pages and online services?”, only 10 percent raised their hands. In other words, publishers have some Web presence, but they don’t really know what they can and should do with it. That is what we’ll be exploring at the ADP convention next week.