An Outsider's View of Yellow Pages
Not surprisingly, Kennard says that private equity is good for the industry because it allows publishers to focus on their core business and expand horizontally. He makes a distinction between the core business of selling advertising and "our franchise of local search." His view is that the industry's most important challenge is to figure out how to deliver our product over multiple platforms.
If that sounds familiar, how about his central theme: "The Yellow Pages' value story hasn't been told as effectively as it should be." Well, that is easier said than done, sir. He said that publishers must figure out how to compete "fanatically." Finally, he commented that "the culture of the industry needs to change," but he didn't provide any solutions to this daunting challenge either.
Of course Mr. Kennard is right, even though he sounded a little bit like he was scolding the audience. But he really didn't say anything that the 600 attendees don't already know. Sure Yellow Pages management needs to do a better job with the tools at their disposal and they need to be better prepared for the future. But what industry, or what company for that matter, doesn€™t that apply to?
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Conventional wisdom is what Kennard offers. Distinctions in the strategy wording are often made to cover the perplexity in periods of quantum step changes. And the shifting user behaviour in local search is not conventional.
The omnipresent â€œvalue storyâ€ is a paradigm of sales as stories to tell. But complex sales will need solutions to provide, you are at the point. â€œProductâ€ is still the analog, not â€œvalue proofâ€ or user centricity in favour of the investing advertiser.
The new culture for the industry is not a self-fulfilling prophecy which will realise itself next autumn. Change management is the art to be learned.