iMarket Solutions Blog : Archive for the ‘In the News’ Category

Stop the Presses (Literally)! San Francisco Bans the Yellow Pages

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Well, it’s not quite a ban, but it’s close. A few days ago, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to restrict delivery of the Yellow Pages to residents and businesses who specifically request a copy.

The vote is a preliminary one – legislation in San Francisco is not final until it passes a second vote – but the 10-1 margin of the May 11th vote is a strong indication that the measure will shortly become law in the environmentally-conscious city.

The legislation sets up a three-year pilot project to limit distribution of the Yellow Pages to those who request a copy by phone, Internet, or by leaving a sticky note on their door. The law mandates special outreach to low-income, non-English-speaking, and elderly people who may not know how to request a copy online.

Supporters of the restriction on Yellow Pages deliveries say that it will be a good thing for their city. They argue that in the age of computer and mobile devices, most people (some say as many as 70%) no longer want or use paper telephone directories. Building managers are annoyed by the unsightly piles of unused copies left in lobbies and on doorsteps. Environmentalists point to the more than seven million pounds of waste generated by the nearly 1.6 million copies of the Yellow Pages delivered each year. (If the books were stacked up, they would be 8 ½ times as high as Mount Everest.) Recycling helps, of course, but the thick volumes frequently clog up recycling equipment, requiring expensive repairs.

Opponents of the measure highlight possible negative impacts on small, local businesses that rely on the Yellow Pages as their primary advertising medium. In particular, businesses without websites would be hit hard by the loss of advertising opportunities. And, not surprisingly, the Local Search Association (until recently known as the “Yellow Pages Association”) has been very vocal in its opposition to the possible law. Instead of the opt-in system mandated in the new law, the Local Search Association supports an opt-out system, which is already in place on the Yellow Pages website. If the legislation passes the second vote, it’s likely that the Local Search Association will challenge it in court. (In Seattle last year, a similar law was struck down on free speech grounds.)

San Francisco may be the first city to succeed in restricting Yellow Pages delivery, but we don’t think it will be the last. What impact will limited Yellow Pages delivery have on your business?

  • First, it will make it absolutely crucial for your business to have a website. If you don’t have a website already, you need to get one ASAP to make sure that you’re ready for any changes to your city’s Yellow Pages policy.
  • Second, you’ll need to make sure that your website can compete in online local search. This makes sense no matter what happens to the Yellow Pages in your city. As we noted in our last blog post on the Yellow Pages (“The Yellow Pages – Your Grandmother’s Inbound Marketing?”, April 6, 2011), the vast majority of consumers – perhaps as many as 97% – use the web to evaluate potential products and services before buying them.
  • Third, it might make advertising in the Yellow Pages a good idea again. No, you read that right. It sounds like a paradox, but limiting the circulation of the Yellow Pages might make it a much more viable advertising medium for service companies. Right now, we believe that advertising in the Yellow Pages is grossly overpriced for the number of leads it generates. But if the Yellow Pages limits its delivery to only those who really use it, advertising rates will almost certainly drop to reflect its smaller circulation, while the number of leads you get will probably stay about the same. This will make for a much better ROI on your Yellow Pages advertising. (Of course, the secret to being sure that you get the ROI you’re looking for on all your advertising is to use a specific, designated, trackable phone number for each kind of advertising you do, so that you can assess the number and quality of leads generated by each medium.)

The Yellow Pages industry is buzzing like a hornet about the possible restriction on its distribution, but we hope it settles down and starts to see the advantages of the change. The web is here to stay, and there’s no doubt that it’s supplanting paper phone books for many people. All indications are that the Yellow Pages industry, as it currently exists, is doomed to financial ruin. However, if the Yellow Pages scales down its business model to focus on serving the small percentage of consumers who still use paper directories, it will set itself up as a valuable complement to online search. If this happens, we’ll go back to being enthusiastic supporters of the Yellow Pages as part of a comprehensive marketing program for service businesses.

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iMarket Featured in Contractor Magazine’s Coverage of QSC CONNECT 2010

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

iMarket got some great press in the December 2010 issue of Contractor Magazine, a leading trade publication for mechanical contractors. We were featured in an article (“CONNECT 2010 Gives Contractors Insights into Business Planning, Social Media”) about the recent QSC CONNECT 2010 conference, where iMarket’s sessions on web design, online marketing, and social media contributed to an intensive few days of seminars and networking.

Contractor Magazine’s coverage focused particularly on the issues of social media and blogging, which are relatively new marketing channels – and which therefore can be challenging to the layperson. Contractor Magazine reported that the iMarket sessions helped contractors make sense of the brave new world of online marketing by highlighting the essentials: regular, frequent updates to website content, blog posts, and social media sites. Social media, iMarket presenters explained, is a great way to get more “mileage” out of website content by re-using it in a different channel. It’s also a fantastic source of free (!) leads. However, the article emphasized iMarket President Nadia Romeo’s warning that content posted to social media sites must be be sincere and personal, rather than “advertorial” or slickly sales-oriented.

Contractor Magazine reported that contractors at CONNECT 2010 were excited about the possibilities offered by blogs and social media, and that some who had blogs they’d allowed to lie dormant were inspired to start posting new content every week.

Contractor Magazine is a leading trade publication for mechanical contractors in the plumbing, heating, piping, and fire protection industries. Launched in 1954, it has grown to a monthly circulation of 50,000.
The online version of the article can be found at http://contractormag.com/news/connect-2010-1234/.

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Launch of iMarket Solutions Noted on Contractor Magazine’s “Technology One-Stop” Webpage

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Contractor Magazine’s online “Technology One-Stop” page featured a short article on the development and launch of iMarket Solutions: “iMarket Solutions Offers Websites, Online Marketing for Service Businesses”. The article highlighted the complementary expertise of iMarket’s three founders: industry consultant Gary Elekes, HVAC sales executive Nadia Romeo, and online marketing expert Andrew Allen. It outlined iMarket’s online marketing strategy, which emphasizes local search as the most cost-effective online marketing channel for most contracting businesses. The article also noted that iMarket offers a wide range of services designed to make online marketing accessible and affordable for service companies of all sizes.

Check out the article at: http://contractormag.com/technology/iMarket-solutions-1234/

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iMarket Experts Teach Intensive Web Design and Online Marketing Seminars at the 2010 Meeting of Quality Service Contractors (QSC)

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

iMarket was the lead presenter at the CONNECT 2010 meeting of QSC (Quality Service Contractors) in Las Vegas on October 27-30.

A self-supporting business unit of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association, QSC offers high-level training programs by expert consultants to help its members run their businesses more profitably and provide a superior level of service to their customers.

The meeting was attended by 87 plumbing companies from all over the US.

iMarket’s seminars for QSC members covered all the “Power Tools for Internet Marketing”, including:

  • Website design and programming
  • Online lead generation
  • Website and online advertising metrics
  • Search engine optimization
  • Pay-per-click advertising
  • Social media and content strategy

The goal of the seminar series was to enable contractors to understand how to create an effective online marketing strategy for their business, and hire the right people to develop and implement it.

The seminars were very well attended by CONNECT 2010 attendees. We received a lot of positive feedback, including this comment sent to iMarket President Nadia Romeo:

“Nadia, I wanted to let you know that you and your company did an outstanding job on the website presentation last week in Vegas.  I picked up several pieces of great information that will help separate my company website from many others in the industry.  The internet is constantly changing and very difficult to keep up with.  You guys are on top of your game. I felt the knowledge behind iMarket Solutions was amazing! Thanks, Rob Basnett, Basnett Plumbing, Heating & AC”.

iMarket offered the following seminars over the course of the weekend:

  • Building a Web Site – Web Design and Programming Do’s and Don’ts. Business owners inevitably have many questions when they launch a website. This seminar answered many of them, including: What are the best practices for building a website? What tools do I need to have an effective web presence? How do I tell the good web designers from the bad?
  • Branding & Lead Generation – Integration of the Internet into Lead Generation and Tracking Using Google Analytics. In this seminar iMarket experts explained how best to track customer acquisition channels and the costs associated with those channels. We also showed how to evaluate “return on investment” to determine which channels are the most profitable. In particular, we explored the valuable online metrics offered by Google Analytics.
  • Search Engine Optimization – The Basics and Pay-Per-Click Marketing and Google Analytics. In order for a website to be an effective marketing tool, it has to “speak” to the search engines—the online tools that help customers find your company. This seminar showed how to make sure that Google and the other search engines see and understand the value of your website so that your website gets strong placement in online search results. We also explained how to use online paid advertising to supplement free search engine results.
  • Social Media and Content Strategy. This session explored social media and content strategies that service companies can put into practice easily without expert help, plus some advanced strategies that are worth hiring outside experts to implement.

Click on the links above to view each presentation, or go to the full list of iMarket presentations.

Contact us if you’re interested in having iMarket present similar seminars in your area!

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