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DMS ’10: Give Up Major Metros? No, Ignore Them At Your Peril.

“That’s where the future revenue is and that’s where the customers are,” said Paul Plant, founder, Radicle Consulting, in reference to the question whether Yellow Pages companies should give up metro markets.  “The innovations going on in this space should give the publishers what they need to address the needs of metro market customers.”

Plant said that publishers must overcome their current reputation of producing print products that are too big and cover too wide an area, are dated, and out of touch.

“Consumers in metro areas travel shorter distances to buy products than anywhere else, so why do we deliver huge directories?”

Plant recommends publishers look at smaller, more compact directories and create online products that don’t just replicate Yellow Pages data, but are dynamic and offer up-to-date content.

Because metro markets consumers are on-the-go all the time, Plant suggests rethinking the sales approach to one that’s 365 days a year, not driven by a 12- or six-month publishing schedule.  According to Plant, if a sales person only checks in twice a year with an advertiser, they miss out on many opportunities to provide marketing services for holidays and other time sensitive needs.

Isabelle Lascombe, marketing director of PagesJaunes in France, says her company has launched a number of initiatives to combat changes in usage of metro markets compared to rural markets, which continue to embrace print.

The company’s research finds that, of consumers in Paris, 16% use print only, 54% use online only; and 26% use both.  Rural areas are quite a different story, where 46% use print only, 15% use online only; and 38 percent both.

As print has changed, the company has looked for ways to cut costs related to print.  PagesJaunes has reduced the number of headings in its urban directories, eliminating B2B headings.  The company is moving to a more compact format that will save paper costs.  It has also launched an opt-out website and changed delivery logistics to produce fewer print directories, and pickup unused directories to adjust counts for next year.

Lascombe said that all printed books are accessible today on the Internet in a fully digitized, interactive format.  The company is releasing three new updates to its iPhone app per year and has launched a branded website geared to the 18 to 35-year-old consumer with maps, streets views, and interactivity with social networks.

Additionally, the company is demonstrating its commitment to print by launching a new mailed directory featuring “emergency” headings related to healthcare and home repairs.

“Metro markets present massive upside opportunity if you get your proposition right,” said Plant.  “Ignore them at your peril.”

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