Monday, January 18, 2010

The Phone Book

is where I am going for leads these days. Because, well, I'll let Roy Williams explain:

2010: The Changing of the Guard

Change happens more slowly than people believe.

The Monday Morning Memo by Roy H. Williams

When change looms obvious and inevitable, we assume it to be imminent. But obvious, inevitable changes in business usually take from 7 to 12 years.

2010 will be the 7th year of certain inevitable changes introduced by the world wide web.

1. Google has replaced the Yellow Pages
but most advertisers haven’t figured this out yet so the Yellow Pages continue to make money on the momentum of previous years.

Momentum is a magical thing. It keeps an empty freight train hurtling forward even when its engines have run out of fuel.

The Yellow Pages are an empty freight train.

I’m not saying they’ll go away anytime soon. In fact, I’m fairly certain they’ll continue to rattle happily down the track until the last of my generation dies off because old habits die hard and fear is more powerful than facts.

All a Yellow Page ad salesman has to say is, “But if you’re wrong, can your business survive a whole year with no customers?”

That withering sound you heard was the business owner losing his resolve under the glare of the Yellow Pages man. ZAP! He’s on the hook for another year.

Those who have seen our presentation on Society’s 40-Year Pendulum* will recall a section where my partners and I explain,

“The explosion in technology that robbed a generation of its childhood also empowered that generation to be instantly in touch with one another. The ‘We’ generation has arrived and their message to Business is this: ‘Your advertising may fool one of us, but that one will tell the rest of us. We insist that you deliver what you promise.’”

2010 is the year the ‘We’ generation begins to really flex its muscle.

Did you know newspapers make more money per inch in their classified ad sections than in any other section? And the classified section has fewer readers than any other.

[This graphs shows only the past rates of increase enjoyed by Craigslist and the projected rates of their future growth according to a typical bell curve. This graph does not predict a decline in volume, but only a slowing of growth as has already been experienced by earlier online successes such as eBay.]

2. Craigslist is replacing the classified ad sections
of newspapers. Put your next classified ad on Craigslist and prepare to be amazed.

3. Yelp is replacing the Better Business Bureau.
A customer who complains about you to the Better Business Bureau is effectively irrelevant. That complaint may hurt your pride but it will rarely hurt your pocketbook.

But if you own a service business, your score on will directly impact your finances. Brad Casebier, a plumber buddy of mine, tells me that a single bad review on YELP cost him $2,000 per week until it finally migrated off the page. Sadly, the snarling woman-without-a-life who posted that negative review did so without even contacting Brad to give him a chance to correct the problem.

Yes, the technology that empowers the “we” generation has a dark side, as well.

And that dark side may get even darker.

Mark Hathaway, a white-collar criminal defense attorney says, “ has to be careful that their business model does not look like they are asking business owners for protection money from bad reviews when** controls whether the bad reviews are posted in the first place. Some business owners may feel that the local neighborhood protection racket has just moved to the Web.”

2010 is the year of the changing of the guard.
Here are 3 things you need to give some thought:

1. Search Engine Optimization is the key to making the 1st page of Google. You can do your own SEO or you can pay someone else to do it for you.

2. Great results from Craigslist require only that you know how to craft an ad.
Luckily, I know a school that can teach you how to write effective ads. Or you can just pay someone to do it for you.

3. Your feedback score on Yelp can be maintained by you alone. You can’t pay someone else to make your customers happy.

Roy H. Williams

** Even if Yelp is kicked to the curb by a newcomer like AngiesList, the idea of peer-to-peer business reviews is here to stay.

Editor: Another growing peer-to-peer business review website is WOMF.

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