Yellow Pages: When a monster is cornered

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Everybody remembers the days when Yellow Pages was the place to get all business information you needed. You wanted a service or product, didn’t know where to get it, you looked into the Yellow Pages. However, times have changed dramatically.

Just as Encyclopaedia Britannica before it, Yellow Pages is fighting a loosing battle against the internet and its array of business promotion tools. As internet becomes more the go to marketing channel for business today, Yellow Pages worldwide are suffering a full head-on blow to their sales.

Recently speaking to a client in Mexico, the experience has been that most businesses are pulling their Yellow Pages ads as the effectiveness has gone completely south. Here in Canada, things aren’t much different.

Yellow Pages Canada has been working hard in changing their complete business and are working to rebuild their main offering, the book, bundled with all kinds of online goodies. This has been such a 360 degree turn that they are now pushing their yellowpages.ca website as the main offering. Their online expertise has been put into question by many online marketers as their new products and services are not only very expensive, but not very effective.

The most interesting part of this whole situation is to see how long before YellowPages is no more or they turn into a completely different business, forgetting altogether about their book publishing.

Well, not entirely. Yellow Pages has all kinds of resources and bodies to keep throwing out to their captive clients. Their strategy so far has been to take advantage of their dozens of years of experience… in publishing. Still, their telemarketing tricks have become more aggressive and are locking customers to 1 or 2 year contracts with no guarantee of results and sometimes mixing up orders and making mistakes, which, some clients have complained were unable to fix or get fixed as if online marketing was impossible to correct once launched… which is not. They´ve even changed their logo to give it an online edge.

However this ends, Yellow Pages is a big monster, has some billions of dollars in their pockets, hundreds of bodies in their offices and can make deals to get good pricing in everything (although they do not necessarily pass any savings to clients). I think they will keep fumbling around for a year or two and then start making sense. I do not expect them to kill little online marketers as they do not offer real marketing, they only offer a couple of distribution channels and most of them, people can do themselves just as badly. I do expect many people to fall for the trust factor YP has and loose lots of money without results. I guess the biggest concern I have is how badly will they damage people’s perceptions of the effectiveness of online marketing… then again, some bad marketers do this themselves.

At least, these are my two cents.

P.S.: Think YP has not changed that much… check out their current profile where they describe themselves more  as a digital marketing agency and even their online offerings overshadow completely their books. Here