Monday, February 22, 2010

Yellow Pages' Continues To Move Away From Print

It was just recently announced that Yellow Pages Group have purchased two online properties to expand their online advertising products; Clear Sky Media Inc., owner of, and Scarlett Lounge and; acquired an ownership interest in 411 Local Search Corp. This is further proof that management at YPG are preparing for the eventual demise of their printed directory.

The Yellow Pages Group have been scrambling over the last year to battle against the plummeting advertising sales traditionally captured in their printed directories. Realizing the book is more a door stop than a reference guide, they've had no choice but to quickly develop an online strategy to remain relevant in the age of new media.

The actions of YPG are clearly reactive based on the shift in dollars from print to online. Business owners must move with caution in trusting the expertise of YPG when it comes to selling services online. In fact, they may be out and out lying to companies in their recent approach.

I've spoke with quite a number of businesses over the last two months, identifying a major confusion in the marketplace when it comes to the relationship between the Yellow Pages Group and Google. These business owners are being told by YPG sales reps that they have a "partnership" with Google. This is far from the truth.

YPG have made a "strategic agreement" with Google to resell their AdWords program. This is not a partnership, and should not be communicated as such. Any person can open their own AdWords account and manage this auction for keywords. Yellow Pages, because they have always focused on local markets, have chosen to take on this management for their clients as part of a package when selling ads in their printed directories. In my mind, this is just smoke & mirrors for YPG to come across as providing more than they are. I know for a fact that in my local market, it was only this year that the sales reps for YPG were trained on how to manage AdWords programs to add it to their selling mix. A 2-day course doesn't produce experts in the field of online marketing.

What happens in the future with YPG is still up in the air. They are very new to online marketing. My message to business owners is invest your money elsewhere in other media this year. Allow YPG some time to get their direction clear and some experience under their belt.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Have Your Read the Business Plan for Destination Winnipeg?

I have a friend that works over at Destination Winnipeg. We got to talking about the mandate of the organization, and its relation to many of the development projects going on in Winnipeg. I was unclear on whether Destination Winnipeg is focused more on economic and business development or tourism. Therefore I thought I'd go through the website to get a better understanding.

It was clear to me after reading through areas of their website that they are in fact responsible for both. Quite a task for an organization that receives very little funding support from both levels of government in Manitoba. Naturally, I was curious how they would plan to execute two very different mandates? So...I went to read their business plan from 2007 - 2009. What did I find?

What I found was exactly the same information that I found on the website. There was no measurable plan of action. Simply regurgitation of who they are, what they do, what they don't do, and who they work with and won't work with. There is no execution strategy anywhere in the document. Allow me to share some examples:

In the "Strategies & Actions" section, they list the following:

- Increase “earned media” to help increase awareness of the city in external
markets through publicity on positive developments and city attractions

How will they do this? Its mentioned no where. Is it PR's? I sure hope its not through their promotional videos. Though very well produced, most of them have barely cracked the century mark in viewers.

- Attract group travel to Winnipeg through targeted packages to our primary
regional market. New focus is on youth and women group markets that offer
growth opportunities.

What are the primary regional markets? What is a targeted package? How will you communicate/advertise to these markets? What media will be used? How will you know if its successful?

The list goes on.

I challenge anyone reading this blog to go to Destination Winnipeg's website; read the business plan, and then please respond to let me know if I'm just going crazy and can't comprehend what I'm reading, or if in fact the business plan is simply stating what they do as opposed to how they will actually do it.

On a side note, you can now book your hotel rooms through their website. I'm sure the hotels - who Destination Winnipeg is supposed to be helping fill vacancies for - are quite happy to now have to pay them a percentage if a room is booked through the DW site. Hmmm...let's help the hotels by cutting their margins. Brilliant.