Local Search Guide Write-Up on DDC

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For those who weren’t able to attend DDC last week, you can see the recap of coverage here on the blog. There is also my quick take on one of the show’s main themes on the YPA’s Local Search Guide reproduced below and a longer recap on Search Engine Watch earlier this week.

Of Yellow Pages, Sales Reps, and Alphabet Soup: The Report from DDC

While print medium doomsday predictions continue, there have been optimistic mainstays at recent industry conferences such as the Kelsey Group’s annual Directory Driven Commerce (DDC) show. The rally cry at last week’s DDC show was the need to repurpose existing print strengths to take advantage of the growth in online advertising and search.

These strengths are exemplified most by the sales channel – directory publishers’ biggest competitive advantage against the Googles and Yahoo!s of the world.

The thought is that there will always be a large segment of SMBs that will not self provision online advertising, but will continue to be served by Yellow Pages sales representatives. For this sizeable segment, local advertising isn’t something that is bought; it is sold.

So how do publishers reposition the sales channel for online opportunities? More effective cross selling is one place to start, according to Scott Pomeroy, CEO of Local Insight Media. We’ve heard this message before, and the cannibalization concerns that rebut it; but Pomeroy asserts that cross selling can be accomplished if executed at the street level.

This means recruiting and training sales representatives that are more digitally savvy, spreading a holistic sales message and reversing incentives to push higher-margin print ad sales.

“We must see ourselves as lead generators with many tools to get there,” Pomeroy says, stressing the consultative role sales reps should develop.

This means bringing advertisers leads through print as well as IYP, SEM, SEO, PPC and the rest of the online alphabet soup, for which SMBs need direction buying, understanding and managing. Directory publishers are uniquely positioned to play this role, and stake a considerably larger claim of the local online ad pie.

These conversations will be picked up with further emphasis on online opportunities at The Kelsey Group’s Interactive Local Media ’07, November 28-30, in Los Angeles.

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