Newsletter Archive - Editor's Corner
ADP Conference Wrap-up
05/04/2005 - The more than 425 people/members who recently gathered at the Association of Directory Publishers (ADP) Annual Convention & Partners Trade Show in Fort Worth, Texas (April 14-16) where treated to quite a show.
The whole independent publisher segment is riding a title wave of upbeat news right now following reports of continued double-digit annual growth. This good news has allowed them to concentrate on a number of top priorities including the adoption of syndicated research to further grow their National ad revenues, discussions of how to maximize sales and team performance, and a call for members to support Find YP's new eRates & Data and YPODS national order system for Yellow Pages advertising sales.
ADP Chairman of the Board Jim Hail opened the Convention by calling on members to embrace each of these key initiatives. In addition to his ADP duties, Hail is president and co-owner of Hagadone Directories, based in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Of note in Hail's opening remarks:
"From the perspective of the independent publishers we are writing a story of growth - phenomenal growth. Just 20 years ago, independent Yellow Pages revenues stood at approximately $252 million, or about 4.6 percent of total Yellow Pages industry revenues of $5.33 billion dollars. Last year, in 2004, independent publishers exceeded $2.8 billion, an increase of another 16.7 percent over 2003."ADP President & CEO Larry Angove was equally upbeat in his opening remarks noting that even the industry suppliers made a strong showing at the convention having bought out all of the Trade Show exhibit space in less than two days.
"Independent Yellow Pages publishers can no longer be viewed as back seat passengers. We are the primary drivers of growth in our industry. But virtually all of the sales success has been through local revenue growth. When it comes to revenues we earn about 20 percent of local Yellow Pages revenue, but only seven percent of the national revenue stream."
"Access to national advertising revenue and embracing syndicated research are imperative to the continued growth and prosperity of independent publishers, and the industry as a whole,"
ANA & National advertisers speak out:
Representatives of the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) Telephone Directory Committee addressed the ADP membership in an opening morning session as part of the keynote activities, and made it very clear on what it will take for the independent publisher to see more National advertising dollars - syndicated usage research and audited delivery data.
Angove opened the panel discussion by noting that "this is the first time that the ANA has made a direct presentation to the membership at one of our Conventions, though we have had several individual national advertisers participate on panels in the past." He also commented that "ANA's participation is confirmation that national advertisers have independent directory publishers on their radar screens and look to them for leadership on matters of importance to the industry. We are delighted to welcome the ANA to our meeting."
"There is an urgent need for yellow pages syndicated research. It's a price of entry for consideration from national advertisers," said Bill Duggan, executive vice president, ANA Member Services. The ANA Telephone Directory Committee has some of the largest Yellow Page National advertisers on it. Members include:
- Janice Lucente (Committee Chair), The Allstate Corporation
- Lisa Beale, Aspen Dental Management Inc.
- Roy Beatty, The ServiceMaster Company
- Linda Dowling, True Value Company
- Joe Eriser, Sears, Roebuck and Co.
- Mark Kaline, Ford Motor Company
- Jeanne Kashner, State Farm Insurance Companies
- Kerry Kielb, Orkin Exterminating Co., Inc.
- Karen Noel, State Farm Insurance Companies
- Elnora Palms, U-Haul International, Inc.
- Steven Pollyea, Roto-Rooter Corporation
- Susan Thomson, DaimlerChrysler
- Angela Umali, Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company
- Bill Duggan, ANA
Endorsement of Find YP Products:
Larry Angove also followed Hail's opening remarks with a call to members to support the latest products from Find YP, which has recently released its eRates and Data™ product to the yellow pages industry.
Angove noted that to date, the system for housing yellow pages rates and data and transmitting national orders has been managed by the Yellow Pages Association (YPA - previously YPIMA and YPPA), which in turn is controlled by "...a cadre of the largest telco-affiliated publishers." Angove indicated that many independent publishers have long believed that having the national channel infrastructure controlled by YPA, which also controls certification of national channel sales agents, is the major reason independent publishers generate just over 20% of local yellow pages revenues but receive only 7% of national dollars.
When inquires to YPA to place the control and operation of the national infrastructure with an independent entity were declined, Angove indicated that ADP began assessing the viability of developing/identifying an alternative system that would be transparent, neutral, user-friendly, and have greater functionality at a lower cost. Angove commented that the search was further accelerated last year when YPA changed its policy regarding publishers represented by service bureaus, which impacted several small publishers in the national arena where the costs of participating in National sales was in excess of their reasonable expectation for national ad revenue. Angove also said that with approximately 125 of our 155 Publisher members in the "...small publisher category, I considered this intolerable."
Angove felt that the recent launch of eRates and Data™ "...directly addresses a long-standing complaint of the CMR community that it's just too hard to do business with the independents." He said that "no longer will CMRs have to visit 30, 40 or more independent publishers' Websites to get the information they need to make informed buying decisions." Though eRates and Data™ will be available to all publishers to provide their data, at a minimum it could become the single source of information on independent publishers the CMR community has been seeking.
The other related announcement from Angove was ADP's support for Find YP's recently announced plans to launch YPODS, its new Yellow Pages Order Delivery System, later this year. YPODS is describes as a fully integrated National order system which will be integrated with their eRates and Data system, to provide a single point of access to directory rates, information and ordering for Yellow Pages advertising sales. Find YP anticipates releasing a beta version of YPODS this summer for testing and feedback by the publisher and CMR users, with full release planned for Q4 2005. The pricing model that is being implemented for YPODS is expected to be a flat rate charge based upon number of directories or clients. This type of pricing structure is expected to reduce annual expenditures for transmission and receipt of national orders by the CMR and publisher communities by a minimum of 50 percent.
Sales panels provide in-depth insights into commissions, practices, and techniques
A significant highlight of the conference was several panels that provided a wealth of very specific information on local sales management processes, procedures, and techniques.
In the "Sales Makers" panel Lou Ortiz of ypOne Publishing noted that based on his industry experience, sales reps at independent publishers have between 1 to 2 closes on average per day when compared to the typical Telco publisher rep that is in the ½ to ¾'s average closes per day. His comments on the typical daily work load for an independent rep was 25 to 30 calls, which leads to 10 to 12 appointments.
Matt Wells of Hagadone Directories indicated that both managers and senior level managers do have their own set of accounts that they work. He felt that it allows them to better understand the market as well as the challenges that each of the reps experiences on a daily basis, especially in a tough market. Several of the panelists also mentioned the use of personality profiles as a standard part of their hiring practices to ensure they get a better match on their sales hires.
In the "Sales Makers" panel, Mitch Glaesser of The MEGAbook discussed their company's practice of "No Sales Mondays". Basically Monday's are used as a day for sales meetings, catching-up on paper work, and customer follow-ups/setting up the weeks appointments. Glaesser indicated that they have not seen any fall-off on sales results from only being in the market 4 days out of the week.
A lot of discussion in this panel focused on the length of the sales day, and when to conduct sales meetings. Robert Whitson of Directory Plus talked about their work day being from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with their weekly sales meetings being held on Friday's at 4:30 p.m. Various publishers during the Q&A part of the panel debated how to best handle Friday's when reps were working a market away from home and were eager to get started on the trip home. The consensus seemed to fall on keeping the reps until at least 3:00 pm on Friday before allowing them to travel home. All of the publishers on the panel did agreed on one thing - Friday's are a prime selling day and it was important that the sales leadership also be committed to making Friday's a big sales day, and not the day for heading to the golf course.
A third sales panel dealt with "Sales Drivers" issues. Mike Schilling of Valley Yellow Pages, Kathy Hipple of Ambassador Publishing, Mike Callihan of Smart Book Directories of Colorado, and John Woodall of Phone Directories covered each of their companies approach to compensation, bonuses, incentives and other sales motivators. On compensation the rates varied as follows (depending on level rep base pay):
- Decrease: 7 to 20%
- Renewal: 5 to 20%
- Increase: 15 to 30%
- Reserves/Chargebacks: generally most publishers have dropped these except for errors on the part of the reps
- Bonuses: a wide variety with no single consensus, including weekly, campaign oriented, trips/recognition for top performers/"Top Gun", and team results
- Incentives: also a varied approach including company paid for cell phones, car allowances, health/medical benefits, victory parties, vacations, etc.
- Other Motivators - some interesting thoughts including:
- Peer pressure
- Advancement opportunities
- Fear of hearing "...you're fired"
- Little surprises: XM radios for cars
At the conference the Association also named the Everyday Yellow Pages the Association's "Gold Book Champion," at the 2005 Gold Book Dinner and Awards Ceremony.
The annual ADP Gold Book competition is contested in two sections. The initial section, which recognizes outstanding achievements in the marketing and promotion of entrants' directories, is held at the Association's Mid-Year Convention in the fall. The second, held at the Association's Annual Convention in the spring, focuses on the physical excellence of entered directories themselves, and features nine award categories. Points earned in each section are then combined to determine the overall Gold Book Champion.
The Everyday Yellow Pages publishes directories serving the local communities of Arlington, Coppell, Grand Prairie, Irving and Mansfield, Texas. The company is headquartered in Arlington, Texas.
ADP members will be gathering again later this year at the Association's Mid-Year Convention and Publishers Trade Show, taking place October 20-23 at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa, Huntington Beach, California.