ADM’s Gordon: ‘Yellow Pages Is Very Well Positioned for the Future’

Today is Herb Gordon’s last day as a consultant to the Association of Directory Marketing, Inc., although he will continue to edit ADM Flash. Flash, the newsletter of the ADM, is sent to more than 1,500 people, and its stories, factoids and tidbits provide direction to those of us in the Yellow Pages industry. Herb is a prolific reader and using both offline and online sources, ADM Flash will advise you that “Yellow Pages Group launched a new local guide for living green and recycling” (press release), that Verizon ranked first in ad spending at $2.2 billion in the U.S. in 2008 (AdAge) and that “SmartPhone rises fast from gadget to necessity” (NY Times). It is one of those pleasant reads that is valuable, interesting and fun.

I called Herb to wish him well. In my view, Herb has had a very positive impact on the industry. He has been a constant in the middle of continuing change, and he has helped guide the industry with a steady hand. (Some of the other leaders with similar credentials include Jim Logan, Elmer Smith and Marilyn Neal … although there are many more.) Not surprisingly, Herb is positive about Yellow Pages. “As a member of all three industry boards — ADM, ADP and YPA — I am convinced the industry has the top management to weather the economic storm and be stronger for it.”

Before joining the ADM as president and CEO in 1991, he was the president of the Yellow Pages division of Ketchum (where he had worked since 1965) and had also been president of a division that encompassed direct marketing, sales promotion and a medical unit. “This experience prepared me well for my responsibilities at ADM. I came with an appreciation of quality research and marketing, the importance of good communications and a sensitivity to responding quickly to clients.” Herb is quick to give credit where it is due. “Any manager knows that he is only as good as the people on his staff. I’ve been blessed in that regard and particularly that Nancy Augustine has worked with me in three different assignments over 30 years. She is one of the most effective executives I’ve ever known.”

In response to a question about what stands out during his career, Herb said “the resounding success of Yellow Pages’ call measurement programs, such as Marketing the Medium and Measurement and Accountability Partnership. Return on Investment is the backbone of these initiatives.” Because the industry “can readily prove it delivers customers with positive ROI,” Herb believes that “the Yellow Pages industry is very well positioned for the future. It has good Internet products. While print references have dipped, the effect is moderate compared to other traditional media. The print product still delivers cost-effective leads for advertisers. There is a strong local and national sales force. Publishers, CMRs and suppliers are willing to invest. I’m very optimistic about the future.”

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