Can the IYP’s survive and thrive?

The other day I noted that “As I have pointed out before, it is my belief that the IYP’s have already lost in this race. From my point of view they bring little of technical or marketing value to the space. Their core product, business listings have been commoditized to the point of being available for free and without significant innovation there is no reason for their survival going forward.

But I had coffee with Ahmed Farooq of iBegin on my way home from SMXEast and he pointed out that there was a path for them to success. Everybody these days has access to cheap or free YP listings. InsiderPages, Dex or Superpages no longer have exclusive listing data. What they do have is “feet on the street”.

They have the sales staff and customer relations that could solve the remaining problem in Local. That is to gather all of the deep local data about real, extant businesses that people care about….not just hours, but brands, niche information, context and other details that will make Local truly useful and not just a broken Yellow Pages.

They have what Google, in their algorithmic approach to Local, will never have; conversations with real businesses on the other end of the phone. Unlike their upstart competitors, they have scale and capital. The IYP’s could once again provide unique data that is valuable and that could push local to the next level of accuracy and functionality.

It would seem a so much more successful strategy to gaining links than their Payola approach. It would create value to themselves and the greater internet, obviously a concept that they have yet to grasp.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Can the IYP's survive and thrive? by

7 thoughts on “Can the IYP’s survive and thrive?”

  1. I’m still skeptical of this “feet on the street” mindset in terms of business data. I contend that small business owners are not going to be willing to continue to pay for a service that they can (or at least should) be able to do for themselves or at very low cost. Salespeople are expensive for the YP’s to pay, and often inefficient at entering business data properly, as our mutual friend Dave Oremland has pointed out on numerous occasions.

    To date, I see Localeze as the best-positioned company to capture the meta-information you’re talking about.

    Where I think YP’s CAN still have real value online is in an “honest broker” arrangement where they really provide objective analysis of where SMB’s should be advertising (including organic search and Local SEO) and not just selling their own products. But how many YP reps are going to be able to understand all the nuances of each business and each geography their clients are in?

  2. Hi David

    As you point out, it is not clear that they are any more capable of doing of what you suggest than what I suggest. Both could provide value to the end user by leveraging their staff but I doubt that they will succeed with either.

    But I just don’t self serve ala Localeze or LBC as being the way to solve the quality problem.

    Mike

  3. I used to believe in that “feet on the street” concept. I bought from YP’s for years. Their sales efforts stink. Their sales folks churn through jobs, there is no consistency, and after years of buying, interaction and complaints, I have come to believe that their management of the sales forces stink.

    I was a “salesperson on the street” for about 2 decades. I had great relations with various clients. I have zero relationship, respect, for theYP salesfolks with whom I’ve dealt over the last 5-10 years. In fact I can’t remember the name of a single one of them.

    Its a flimsy value, IMHO.

  4. Hi Dave

    I would agree that if they can’t execute and they can’t establish effective relationships then their ability to execute this “plan” would be nill…which would bring me back to my first assessment:

    …it is my belief that the IYP’s have already lost in this race. From my point of view they bring little of technical or marketing value to the space.

    I was pointing out an asset and a need. Do I think that they can do it? Do I think they will try? Who knows. Anybody who is buying links as a long term marketing strategy as opposed to building value will unlikely succeed.

    Mike

  5. Mike and David,

    Thanks for thinking about and mentioning Localeze.

    Now for the infomercial comment. :)

    Just as an FYI… self serve is one model but it is a very small piece of how we get our business content. We do offer tools that help to structure, organize and propagate business listing content. Ahmed, is also correct that deep local content is critical to everyone involved in the Local Search ecosystem.

    At Localeze we work on the opportunity to aggregate unique data that is valuable and that could push local to the next level of accuracy and functionality every single day. We are making progress. :)

    So enough of the sales pitch — I need to go back to my mourning of the Cubs being swept right out of the playoffs.

    As always thanks for sharing your insight.

  6. I had two direct sales pitches from one of the IYP’s today. The first pitch was from a cold call. Afterwards he followed up with a pitch from he and his sales manager. I like to speak with these guys to see what they are pitching. I’m pretty close mouthed at first, trying to get all their information without revealing any knowledge.

    The sales manager had 2 years experience with the IYP. The sales person had about 10 months experience.

    Let me try and repeat the emphases from their pitches to an SMB.

    1. You have to be on the internet to gain customer awareness.
    2. Being in the IYP’s adds 1/3 to your local traffic. In other words search engines bring in 2/3 and IYP’s bring in 1/3.

    On top of that this particular sales manager hard pitched the distribution network of this particular IYP…an additional visibility on 8 additional IYP’s around the web.

    They ran stats off their system on visits for particular businesses in my region showing IYP impressions and clicks to the competing businesses. They also showed me stats on a competitor within my industry- though I couldn’t keep the data.

    We then took a look at the visibility of some existing customers with regard to the IYP distribution network.

    Finally they provided me with some insights into strong “advice” on how to get my website to rank well.

    My Impressions

    1. I doubt their statistics. Someone should verify the stats they are showing customers. Over the years I’ve seen stats from IYP’s. They always seem deeply overstated. I’ve run some IYP programs. They don’t deliver close to what the IYP’s claim.

    2. I hate their pricing. They take a metro area and subdivide it in ways that might work best for a small local business….but don’t work for a regional business.

    3. Boy do I doubt that 1/3 additional traffic claim. I checked IYP traffic by hand on some of the (now 2 years old) AOL dump data from 2006. It wasn’t anywhere’s near the claim of 1/3 traffic for the topics I checked. On top of that about 1/2 the IYP traffic I saw came because the IYP was ranked high for a phrase….not because the customer went directly to the IYP.

    Then their advice…..hoooo boy.

    1. Make your keyword meta tag as long as possible….”hmmmm”
    2. Adding video and reviews improves your “organic” rankings.

    ;) On that last one I suggested they recheck with the people who are “teaching” them about rankings.

    Maybe I should refer them to this website…huh, Mike?

    Dave

  7. Well if nothing else we can check off the survival option that David suggested for them of being the “honest broker”.

    Mike

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