Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More Bad News for the Yellow Page Industry

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A new Borrell Associates study estimates the Yellow Page industry will lose '39% of its annual revenue over the next five years, amounting to a loss of $5 billion in annual revenue by 2013.' While this statistic is startling, the majority or our 525,000 merchants over the last few years have been directly telling us they have NOT seen a return-on-investment from their YP ads. That's not to say YP ads don't have value, because in a lot of communities they still do. In fact, some of our best merchants are finding customers with their YP ads AND their MerchantCircle ads.

Michael Ortega of MC Leathersmiths in Bellemont, AZ says:

"We used to run newspaper ads and large Yellow Page ads - we've now downsized our Yellow Page ads and stopped newspaper ads altogether. It was like flushing money down the toilet. With the economy being so bad, I don't know why every company is not taking advantage of MerchantCircle's free services."

While the Borrell report does not directly say the loss is coming from an exodus to digital advertising, it does say YP sales staff are being retrained to sell interactive products. We've written two posts before that generated a high amount of interest from local business owners and YP insiders, who continue to argue the lasting value of print. While we don't argue that YP still has value, it would seem the industry would be better suited trying to satisfy their customers.

In speaking with our merchants on an almost daily basis, the big complaints are the high-cost associated and how YP sales reps consistently try to package their print and digital offerings together AND in long-term contracts.

Luttra Lewis of Girlfriends - The Salon in Olathe, KS says:

"I couldn't wait for my contract to end. I probably spent about $8,000 to $10,000 a year advertising in print and broadcast and saw very little return on my investment. The internet has been the most cost-effective and proven. MerchantCircle has really helped me grow my business and find a larger audience."

To avoid further loss, we continue to believe the YP industry needs to flip the script, while keeping their merchants happy.

Kevin L.
Community Relations

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cutting Business Expenses: Starting with the Yellow Pages

We recently came across this article on Tracy's Business Guide to Survival, that said 3,200 Martial Arts Studios went out of business in the month of May. I'm not sure where Tracy got her information from, but she lays out some good guidelines on how to cut down on overhead. One of her main points in cutting costs is doing everything yourself.

As the economy continues to weaken, and discretionary income is further reduced with high gas prices - we agree with her point. As a local merchant, you have to be proactive and sign yourself on to any free network you can. Here's a good post about just what all this 'local search' talk is about from Aspiring Business.

As part of my Merchants Across America campaign, interviewing our merchants in all 50 states, I had the opportunity to talk to Gary and Mary LaChapelle of Maury's Kung Fu in Worcester, MA. They told me that one of their biggest money drains was advertising in the Yellow Pages and the local newspaper.

Massachusetts - Maury's Kung Fu - Sifu Gary 2

"I got one response from that $400 ad - I was really disappointed. I tried the Yellow Pages, and I think they still have value, but they charge too much," says Mary. "As for the internet, I claimed my business on MerchantCircle and I've noticed a huge increase in phone calls and new students that found us through our listing."

Now that the LaChapelle's are no longer paying high costs for print advertising, they've been able to significantly reduce their overhead while still finding new customers. You should definitely check out what they did with their free MerchantCircle listing - click here.

As you take measures to spend your money more-wisely, we wish you the best of luck and will continue to do our best to help you 'do it yourself' so that you can pockets the benefits!

Community Relations

Monday, July 7, 2008

Social Business Network

While MerchantCircle has given hundreds of thousands of local business owners across the nation a free web presence that shows up high in search engines, at the heart of this network are the merchants who are embracing the social networking aspect.

MerchantCircle members have been steadfastly helping each other out on the best ways to use MerchantCircle and other ways to grow their business in our MerchantCircle Forums.

Recently we came across this video on YouTube (below) from Cathie Dodd, owner of Tears of Joy Video in Encinitas, CA. Cathie has been a member of MerchantCircle since our first year of existence in 2006. Her and her business epitomizes the social networking capabilities of MerchantCircle - helping to translate into almost 3,000 page views to her MerchantCircle listing each month! Cathie compiled pet pictures from her MerchantCircle network, made up of hundreds of local business owners across the nation, and came up with this video to showcase the pets of MerchantCircle.

Good job on the video Cathie! Enjoy:

Kevin L.
Community Relations

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Yahoo! Partnership Will Help You Get More Local Customers

Since December, we've been rolling out new online marketing services that are a direct result of what you, as a business owner, have been asking for. Our latest product allows our more than 525,000 members exclusive access to Yahoo! Local online advertising.

Here's a portion of the release:


Partnership Comes on the Heels of MerchantCircle Surpassing 500,000 Members with More than 5,000 Paying Customers

Los Altos, CA July 2, 2008 – MerchantCircle, the largest online network of local business owners in the nation, today announces a partnership with Yahoo! that allows MerchantCircle members exclusive access to Yahoo! Local online marketing services. As a Yahoo! ‘Local Ambassador’, MerchantCircle will.....

We're excited to be offering you an ever-growing list of options that will help you find new customers in your local town or all over the world. Thanks for participating in our surveys that help us meet your advertising budget and needs. Since revamping our suite of marketing services, members participating in our paying products have grown from 500 at the end of December to more than 5300 today.

We hope to continue to meet your needs.

Kevin L.
MerchantCircle Community Relations