‘Search Starts Here’: Reinventing the Directory Organization

Our own Brad Carson, vice president of operations, moderated a relevant and insightful conversation yesterday morning with change management experts about the bold moves necessary to drive the transformation of global directory organizations into multi-platform local media agencies.

While the session highlighted numerous successful approaches and provided valuable recommendations on what our industry can do to ensure its continued leadership in local search, I wanted to highlight several topics that really caught my attention.

Peter Buxton, principal at Buxton Independent Consulting and a veteran of ITT World Directories, discussed the successful road taken by Pages Jaunes, to become an innovative and well-respected digital player.

Buxton explained how Pages Jaunes recognized in 2000 that consumers and advertisers would be increasingly turning to digital local search options. He noted that the company was able to successfully build out its online offerings: today, more than half its revenue is in digital and its website,, is fifth most-visited in France.

Buxton described actions taken by the Pages Jaunes to reinvest in its print offerings – including re-scoping, redesigning, and updating pricing – that have helped mitigate revenue declines. He said the company is  known in France as a “sexy” and “modern” multimedia company that is at the cutting edge of its field.

Buxton also said that any strategy undertaken by a company in our industry isn’t a good one unless it can be implemented through its sales force. He said that sales teams should be confident and excited when speaking with clients about the value of print Yellow Pages and constructive about how the platform can work in their marketing plans.

Kathy Geiger-Schwab, principal at Geiger-Schwab Consulting LLC, highlighted several “rules” that print publishers should live by in their transition efforts. Geiger-Schwab noted that CEOs must be executive champions of change, that leadership must be aligned and that companies must not just remodel their growth but reinvent it completely.

Geiger-Schwab also said that the industry must deliver on every promise it makes to customers in order to retain their trust. She added that sales teams must know the value proposition of each offering in their portfolio and not push options that don’t have value to particular customers. She suggests an honest, open approach will pay off significantly down the line.

Richard Selvaraj, senior program manager – Media & Information Services BPO at Tata Consultancy Services, discussed his company’s partnerships with directory publishers to optimize operational efficiency and reduce costs. Selvaraj said Tata can provide support around key data functions including account, ordering and listing management and creative areas like in-column ad production, pagination and display ad production. He suggested that publishers look to outsourcing these functions as a way to improve profitability.

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