Experts Blog

Stronger Search Marketing Competition from the IYPS

By Mary Bowling on May 05, 2011 - 03:43 PM

It's no secret that the Yellow Pages industry has been struggling to keep its head above water. It is now rebranding itself and making a strong push to convince small businesses that the Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs) are the solution to all of their internet marketing needs. Up until now, the industry as a whole has never been able to look beyond what it can see through its "we sell advertising to businesses" goggles.

On the other side of the equation are businesses who want affixed- price, one stop solution for making their doors swing and phones ring that requires no effort on their part beyond writing a check every month.

In their newest incarnation, the IYP's are attempting to morph into digital marketing agencies. The Yellow Pages Association officially changed its name to the Local Search Association (http:/ / . It has also drawn new types of members into the group, like CityGrid and Kenshoo, that did not spring up from the heritage of print directories, but have tentacles in the world of online advertising. The group members are now marketing themselves as providers of complete search services, including social and mobile marketing.

Up to this point, what the IYP sales reps have been selling has pushed small businesses into digital marketing, but their emphasis has been on paid advertising networks. Anything else that they offered has just been smoke and mirrors. Unfortunately, Some of their tactics – such as using call tracking phone numbers and pointing directory listings to a page on the IYP site instead of to the company's website - have been downright harmful to the businesses that buy into them.

Over the years, I have spoken to numerous yellow pages reps on behalf of clients. I was usually told that they would "put the business at the top of the Search Engines", but when pressed as to how that would happen, they were either clueless or acting clueless. I was also given outright weird misinformation like "we are Google approved".

While the IYP sales reps clearly don't understand how organic Local Search works, there's no mistake that they know small businesses want product bundling, monthly billing and the option to choose from a variety of price points. This is why so many SMBs rely on them for marketing – it's easy, they can buy in at a budget they choose, they can pay for it a month at a time and they don't have to do any work - their yellow pages folks will take care of everything for them.

It doesn't matter to the small business owners if the IYPs understand search or not. They don't grasp it themselves and most of them don't care to. As long as that check they write to the yellow pages every month makes their phones ring, it doesn't matter to business owners how it happens. The two groups really are good match for each other.

The sales reps for your local yellow pages have been selling hundreds and thousands of dollars per month in digital marketing services to many of the small businesses in your area for years. Now, they're really stepping up their efforts.

If you want to sell your services to the small businesses in your area, it's time to find out what the yellow pages are offering and figure out how you can best compete with them.