Yellow Pages Books

Yellow Pages Books

Back before the Internet, when you had a new personal or professional need, something out of the ordinary, did you stop and think, “Yikes, I don’t know who to call on this. Geez, who do I know that might know a trusted contractor? I know! I’ll call Joe. Joe knows EVERYone.” And if you reached Joe and he gave you a couple names, did you call those companies or those people based on Joe’s Word of Mouth referral BEFORE you pulled out the 5-pound phone book? Or did you go find the Yellow Pages® and say, “Hmmm, I wonder what category that kind of service would be listed under? Let’s see… ‘Cracks in the cement floor’…CR… No. Ah, here it is… ‘Cement Floors’ … I’m sure these guys fix cracks. Of course there might be a few butt cracks in view, but I’ll take the kids to McDonalds. Now, which one should I call? I like this logo…” 

Sound familiar? It’s amazing that many readers won’t have had this experience. But I think most will. You called around, got a few quotes, got a read on how friendly they sounded, how smart they seemed, how soon they could come, etc., lots of data-points in as few calls as possible. Then you made a decision based on intuition and called back the selected company or person and hoped for the best. Let’s face it – unless we had domain experience with the subject at hand, we had no idea, right? That termite control company could have been spraying ICED TEA on the foundation for all we knew! And we had no recourse beyond telling 10 of our friends if they didn’t deliver.

My how times have changed, right? 

Facebook status update: “I’ve got a new crack in the cement floor in the garage. I’m worried. What should I do?” Come back in an hour and you’ll have 15 Likes (what’s up with that!), a few sympathy comments, and three referrals to contractors, complete with names, phones, and short testimonials from trusted sources (well, okay – KNOWN sources). You might even have a link to their Facebook page or Website or Angie’s List where you can read their latest reviews.

Question: Do you need to go to Google at that point? And if you do, do listings of other potential providers carry more weight than the Word of Mouth referrals? I doubt it. You might make a mental note, but you’ll call the referrals first, won’t you?

And when the selected contractor comes out, would you mention the relationship with the person that referred you? You betcha! Why? Well, it’s just good business practice, right? Build relationship with people, identify people, places, and things in common, build a common bond. Doesn’t that build in some accountability? On BOTH sides? The contractor can’t treat you wrong for fear of it getting back to the original source and spoiling that source of business. And you can’t treat the contractor poorly for fear of spoiling your trusted relationship. Transparency and Light have a tendency of cleaning things up, don’t they?

So what’s the point of all this?

If you are doing a great job building relationship with your customers, if you’re establishing a reputation as a recognized expert in your field, and if you’re building up your community, assuming you have something of value that is priced right, you should have plenty of people calling you. (See Chris Paradiso as an example.) And so the news of Google entering your market should drive you to be even better, to work harder at driving out costs for your customers, to be more efficient, to add more value, and above all, to avoid selling on price at all costs.

On the flip side, if you are a direct writer selling on price alone … “15 minutes will save you 15% or more” … .

Blockbuster Closed

Blockbuster Closed

The back stories: 

Forrester Research Analyst Blog by Ellen Carney

PropertyCasualty360 Blog with always-wise Steve Anderson

The New York Times Blog

Awesome Agent Coach Ryan Hanley’s Blog

with a spot-on Comment by astute observer Terry Golesworthy

What’s your take?

Does Social really trump Search?

Should direct writers be sounding the air-raid siren?

Thanks, Mike