New Yellow Pages Opt-Out Opportunity… Hopefully

February 2, 2011

This is nice. Apparently, there is a new site to opt-out of the yellow pages you receive. There have been ways for a few years, but apparently this updated site is different for two reasons:

  1. This one is an all-in-one spot to opt-out of all directories. (I thought they already had this but maybe I’m wrong) Here’s an example for the 55401 zip code.
  2. The print book folks say this one actually works. Opt-out has been available for a few years but so far the word hasn’t really gotten to the people who actually deliver the books.

Here are two tips when filling out the opt-out form since almost all fields are required:

  1. For your required email field, use a Yahoo address. I’m guessing their main reason your email is required is for confirmation purposes. If they also decide to use your email to sell you advertising, a Yahoo email is good at filtering out spam.
  2. For your required phone field, use a Google Voice number. I’m guessing their main reason your phone number is required is for confirmation purposes. If they also decide to use your phone number to sell you advertising, a Google Voice number is good at blocking callers.

Condemned homes unfortunately have no way to opt out.

Not sure what their condo and apartment opt-out policy will be.

I’m curious how many people will use this service. Although the opt-out site was slowed down considerably yesterday, I think the percentage of households who use this will be low for a few reasons:

  • Consumers may not want to provide their email or phone number (see tips above)
  • Some people just don’t care and automatically trash or recycle the book
  • Condemned homes and condo/apartments may not be applicable (see above pictures)
  • Some people young and old happily use the print yellow pages

As a consumer, do you welcome the opt-out site? As an advertiser, do you also welcome this? It’s at least a start to make circulation stats more realistic.

Bookmark on Google :: pos</p>

New Localmn Site Coming Soon

November 11, 2010

It’s been two + years of thought and we’re now getting close to a new relaunch. We optimistically hope to launch and replace the current 2005 version before the 2010 calendar ends.

The new site will have a brand new look with more transparency and social features. The core of the site will remain the same. Let’s get people away from their computers and to your business door. Here is our new logo.

More on Dave below, he’s customizing some cool rotating imagery for the home page. Here’s a dummy pic. Funny, Dave.

We’ll be offering the same local search marketing as always, plus a few new features like local online reputation management, content strategy consulting (Barb), front-end design (Dave) and more.

Several have mentioned to make the new site more engaging. Personally, I’m not a social media guru/ninja/sovereign but I am a user. I’m transparent, too. So, there will be access to what’s up on Flickr, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, YouTube and of course this blog which will be finally integrated in the site (bye WordPress-hosted blog).

There will be serious talent behind the site as well. I’ve been lucky enough to have years of projects with Barb Prindle, writer extraordinaire and all-around very nice and organized person. There’s also a front-end developer/designer available for clients who need it. Dave Dechant and his site Face Your Design is a pretty dang good resume. He’s got mad skills making sites tick in both form and function.

Check out their sites. Maybe you just need writing or front-end developing needs.

A photo shoot for us three may happen next Saturday (site TBD – possibly the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden). We’ll have a couple somewhat regular poses to put on the site. We’ll also have a Flickr set and are planning for some creative fun! There may or may not be a field goal attempt using a yellow pages book. I have complete confidence this can be achieved.

Want to be creative and have fun next Saturday? Let us know!

More to come…

Bookmark on Google :: post to facebook

Weekend 4 of 5 For Sun Country Promo – Cape Cod

October 4, 2010

Another weekend of the Sun Country Free Fare for All program is in the books. This time was a short visit to Cape Cod. As fun as this project has been, I’m pretty wiped and am glad there’s only one more weekend left.

What a cool place, and again here is a Flickr photo set to go along with it.

Many businesses were visited as well and unfortunately wrote my first 1-of-5 star review of this rental car Google Place Page. There was a chance for another one as my hotel was closed for the night but found the Heritage Hotel soon after and gave a very nice review.

To turn a negative car rental into a positive, while finding out the terminal was closed a police officer was doing her rounds. She stopped to help locate the mysterious key drop they have somewhere that is not visible. She was frustrated as well and was kind enough to hang around to find a cab number. So, thank you Barnstable Police Department!

Went to recommended Spanky’s Clam Shack and noticed the Gophers were on TV (they lost). But, I chatted with a few locals, have some great local seafood and left a nice review.

Here’s the cool bike rental shop I used while having to return a car rental key that Budget refused to pick up.

Sunday was a full day of travel. In addition to the Flickr set, I’ll just say the Bay State Cruise Company is fantastic and can get you to and from Boston to Provincetown. Note, you’re going 30+ miles on the open sea. Bring your Dramamine if the waters are inclement.

Notice most of the links above are to Google Place Pages rather than their own website. Sometimes there’s just more interactive information on Place Pages.

Next weekend is 5 of 5 and will be around Tacoma. I look forward to seeing old friends. Plus, I’ll get a tour of Ted Brown Music. Awesome company who I was lucky enough to be a part of from 1995-1999 (Go, Road Reps!). They’re a perfect example of a family run business gone good, generation after generation.

Bookmark on Google :: pos</p>

Weekend 3 of 5 For Sun Country Promo – Las Vegas

September 26, 2010

OK, weekend three of five for the Sun Country promo is in the books. This post will be a bit different. The first two weekend trips were solo and just went to businesses on my own time to hopefully have good experiences to showcase via reviews or social media formats.

This weekend was different. Close to 20 of us met in Vegas to help four people celebrate turning 4-0 this month. This was more about having fun amongst friends. To my knowledge, none of us have big things to hide so we can apply the phrase “What happens in Vegas, goes on Google Maps, Twitter, Foursquare and Flickr”.

Again, speaking of Flickr, here is a small picture set of the short trip.

Thanks to Sun Country and the promo, I did unlock the Jet Setter badge on Foursquare upon checking in at McCarran at 7am this morning. That’s right, 7am. The airport was busier than I would have figured.

Don’t care? Yeah, I really don’t either.

I did have one, absolute five-star review to give to a place called The Griffin. The bar is in the downtown Fremont East district. The area apparently used to be pretty shady but has certainly cleaned up. The place is wonderful!

This next four-star review for Uncle Joe’s Pizza probably should be closer to a three-star but it was still fast and convenient.

I’m big into staying at locally-owned hotels/motels. The staff are often the owners and they always appreciate your business. This time, the dollar won out as the downtown Super 8 was available for something like $55 a night through Expedia.

I had to have a little fun with Aaron Weiche when he heard I was going to Vegas.

4am in Minnesota is 2am in Vegas. We all had our fill of food and drink Friday night and got back to my motel about 1am. I didn’t have any uploaded pictures at the time but decided to somehow wait until 2am to send him a random DM on Twitter. Aaron was definitely amused. At the airport this morning, I sent this.

Weekend four will be in Boston (Cape Cod) with hopes to showcase nice locally-owned businesses. It turns out Boston itself is very expensive but you can get to Cape Cod and live very thrifty for a couple days. See you soon, Hyannis Holiday Motel and thank you, Vegas!

Bookmark on Google :: pos</p>

Weekend 2 of 5 For Sun Country Promo – Los Angeles

September 19, 2010

It’s weekend two of five for the Sun Country promotion. This time it’s LA (Long Beach) and am staying at the Beach Plaza Hotel. I wound up choosing this motel after scrolling LA area beaches on Google Maps finding the most affordable, locally-owned motel.

Arriving at LAX, it was nice to immediately find a SuperShuttle attendant at ground transport. I haven’t always had the best luck with them but they have it nailed down at LAX. Here’s a Google Maps Review:

They politely dropped me off here:

The place is fantastic! More to come below.

Arrived at motel hungry and had pizza delivered. It was nothing to write home about but it’s a true local joint and gave La Rizza’s a three-of-five Yelp review. If there was a 3.5 option, I would have chosen that.

I gave one review on Saturday. It wasn’t as much the service itself, but its destination of Catalina Island. I was in awe of Avalon and the surrounding hills of Catalina. Here’s a Flickr set which doesn’t come close to giving the place its due justice.

So, here’s the review for Catalina Express, the ship that takes you to heaven in an hour.

The hotel itself was perfect for my needs. I wanted to stay at a locally-owned place. It’s essentially a full, one bedroom apartment right on Long Beach at a price you would get at a Holiday Inn in suburban Minneapolis/St. Paul.

It doesn’t have the amenities that many hotels do. My needs don’t change. Internet access, shower and a bed is just fine. Here’s the honest review I gave the Beach Plaza Hotel.

I tell you what, the two owners/managers work hard! Both woman and man were there Friday evening to check me in AND Sunday morning for checkout. I told them a gave them an honest, positive Google Maps review and they couldn’t have been more appreciated and both stuck out their hands for humbling handshakes. That made me feel pretty warm.

Side note, apparently I’m seven days away from becoming their mayor on Foursquare.

Back to Minneapolis. Bye, LA.

Bookmark on Google :: pos</p>

Weekend 1 of 5 For Sun Country Promo – San Diego

September 12, 2010

Over three weeks ago, I took Sun Country Air up on their Fall Free-for-All promotion. I wanted to get local and social in-person and online with businesses and events. I also implied lodging was going to have be on the cheaper side. Ten stays in five weeks sure add up.

So, I just got back from my first destination, San Diego. What a wonderful city! It turns out I have very nice things (mostly) about places I got to visit. There’s a Flickr photo set as well.

The only unpleasant place was at Paymore Payless Car Rental. I didn’t feel the need to write a review. They did upgrade the car for free though because their free shuttle never showed up and I had to cab it to their airport rental location. You online reputation management types, they may be a good client for you.

From there, everything went uphill, metaphorically and literally. I then went to the hotel.

It’s kind of a dump, right in between two very nice hotels on the beach. So, I had a bed, wifi, mini fridge and I’m on the same beach paying about 1/4 of what I would have next door. Awesome!

What else makes this motel awesome? An actual use for a yellow pages book. It serves as a TV riser.

Saturday night, the room wifi wasn’t working well. Talked to the manager and he suggested I bring it down to an ocean view patio table. I then sent out this Twitter message with a picture link to a new view with wifi.

They weren’t listed as a Foursquare venue either. I’m now the proud mayor of Pacific Beach Motel in San Diego, CA.

Who cares? OK. Moving on. I enjoyed the motel enough to give them an honest 4 out of 5 star review on Google Maps.

I wound up telling the manager about the review and he thanked me very much and was serious about how much he appreciated it. Why? I’m guessing he has vested interest in this small motel.

On to more places.

During my short visit, I tried to keep busy. Cowles Mountain is a shorter but pretty technical climb, 20-25 minutes from the motel. The peak is even a Foursquare venue.

After that I decided to keep the adrenaline going. It turns out a shop three blocks from my motel called Pure Life Surf Shop rents both bikes and boogie boards. These guys are awesome! And funny. I couldn’t help but to give them a 5 star review.

They noticed I was wearing a U of Washington cap on and selected a great cruiser with UW decals. Very cool of them. They even took a picture of me and the UW cruiser in an erroneous attempt to look cool with my ride.

After a failed attempt at boogie boarding, it was time to hit Hennessey’s Tavern to wind down. At first, it was really annoying solely because of frat folks. So, a small personal Facebook rant:

Once they left, it was great. Chatted with a nice, older English couple and listened to an acoustic duo play some songs. Turns out Hennessy’s is a Foursquare venue, too. Hopefully, they use it well.

One last place I wanted to mention. How many of you enjoy airports unless you’re going somewhere fun? Well, the San Diego airport provides you free wifi and USB access! I’m sure there are other airports who have this too. If so, please let me know which ones exist.

I immediately sent this Twitter message along with the picture link. Features like this make me want to go to the airport very early in the morning almost no matter what time the flight leaves. You can avoid long security lines, get work done while keeping everything charged, and most importantly for the airport, spend more time (thus more money) during your airport stay.

1st weekend was a total success. Thank you, San Diego! Again, here’s a Flickr photo set.

Next weekend, LA & Long/Huntington Beach, CA. Then comes Vegas, Boston and Seattle. See you soon!

Bookmark on Google :: pos</p>

Yellow Pages, Let’s Make Seattle More Pretty

August 19, 2010

Yep, another post about the yellow pages, but I have a genuine offer for a couple  print yellow pages advocates. More on this below.

Apparently, Seattle has a yellow pages opt-out program in legislation which would penalize those who deliver these books to homes and businesses who have requested to not receive them. A guy named Ken has something to say against it. He thinks delivering multiple yellow pages to doorsteps each year is a good thing.

I did leave this comment last week, although he didn’t accept it.

An acquaintance of mine named Eric had something to say which was accepted, then had another thing to say which was not accepted.

Apparently, those of us who do not find print yellow pages valuable have awakened a sleeping giant named Wayne Mulling who had something to say. Nope. I haven’t heard of him either.

“I will guarantee you that the gentleman (and I use the term loosely) that is sponsoring this bill, has probably never run a business before going into politics, has never had to go to sleep at night worrying about how to keep his business viable, how he’s going keep the people he has employed (whose families look to that job for a living), or any of the other 1000 concerns small business owners have – which includes how do I best promote my business.”

The gentleman Wayne is talking about is Seattle Councilman Mike O’Brien. After about a 30 second search on him, it turns out he doesn’t just hold a MBA, but has been the chief financial officer for a $10 million law firm for ten years.

I’m guessing Mike is very knowledgeable about running a business. As a CFO of a good size law firm for over ten years, he has probably been in charge of a ton of advertising dollars spent with the print yellow pages. It turns out that attorneys like to advertise.

Wayne Mulling, you shouldn’t be slamming Mike. You should be thanking him for every dime he spent in your industry.

Here’s where the offer comes in. Thanks to a wonderful Sun Country Airlines promotion, I’m able to travel at-will on weekends for over a month. Ken and Wayne, I hereby invite you to join me in Seattle to recycle unwanted phone books. Sometime in September, SuperMedia should be dropping off these books.

A week after these books are delivered, it’s safe to assume that books left on lawns and abandoned homes are unwanted. Seattle happens to be an available city for the Sun Country promotion. Would you like to meet me there on a late September or early October weekend? Together, we can help make Seattle more pretty.

Thank you for your consideration. This is a sincere offer.

Bookmark on Google :: pos</p>

Google Tags, Hair Salons, Clever Uses of Google Coupons

July 29, 2010

Recently, I was chatting with Clint from ThinkSEM with a laptop in front of us looking for hair salons. Nope, not for me but for one of Clint’s clients.

The reason was to check local Google listings and see if any salons were using Google’s new Tags for coupons. If you haven’t seen these yet, this Google LatLong post sums it up quite well.

With Google Tags, you control its destination, most likely a section of your Google Places Page you want emphasized. This can be photos, video, custom message or in our search, a coupon. Success from a simple coupon can be easily measurable. If only 25 people a month show their coupon (printed or mobile device) to an advertiser’s salon(s), the $25 flat monthly fee is worth it many times over.

Here’s a nice use of a coupon. A salon in Jacksonville uses it as a gift card to attract new clients.

The coupon?

Here’s a scrunched up screenshot of the Google 7 Pack in Houston. Two salons use their $25 monthly tag to link directly to their website… right underneath the free link directly to their website. Not the best use?

Another scrunched screenshot, here’s a very clever use of a Tampa salon using their Best of Citysearch award and turning it into a coupon.

One of their coupons?

It’s not just coupons. Here’s a great use of a salon in San Jose providing driving directions.

We thought of other industries who would use Google Tags and SEO did come up right away. Another scrunched screenshot shows a free website evaluation at the top of Chicago results.

The evaluation.

Disclaimer – I don’t know of this company and have no opinion of them yay or nay. They’re more than welcome to chime in. $500 in value seems quite a bit to offer for free. A search marketing agency who charges $125/hr would spend four hours on one evaluation. Even a lawyer won’t spend more than 15 or 30 minutes on a free consultation.

What do you know? A segue.

From a previous position in Eagan, MN, I learned that many lawyers like to play on Google. This isn’t a good or bad thing. It’s what it is.

Here’s another scrunched up Google 7 Pack – this time for a personal injury lawyer in San Jose.

Notice there’s one with a free consultation? I’ve been to San Jose twice, didn’t injure myself either time, but if I did and saw this I may have taken them up on that offer. It’s a much nicer touch than a $25/month link to visit their website directly under a free link to visit their website directly.

Somewhat related, someone out there thinks that keyword stuffing a Google coupon gives them magic Google love.

Accident Lawyer

Accident Lawyer! Accident Lawyer! Accident Lawyer!

I wonder if that will make this post on Google’s first page for accident lawyer? No? OK. Moving on.

I wasn’t surprised then to see the same firm with tons of reviews loaded with keywords. Maybe Lycos or something still puts weight on bold words in their search ranking algorithm.

Disclaimer – Most attorneys I know are fantastic.

This is getting a little off topic. Hair salon owners, get listed for free on Google Places and consider a $25/month creative use for Google Tags.

Bookmark on Google :: pos</p>

Round Two-of-Three for Yellow Pages Companies Making Minneapolis Less Pretty

July 17, 2010

Just a couple months ago, Dex started the first round of making Minneapolis less pretty by dropping their print yellow pages on unwanted doorsteps.

Rumor had it Yellowbook did the same thing last week while I was out of town. The condo I live at only allows one yellow pages company to dump their pile. So, I decided to send a quick Twitter message:

I did get a confirmation first by Cory Taj Bolton and then a fun, snarky response from my friend, Glenn.

So, I took my camera to the same south Minneapolis area visited two, short months ago. It was a copy of what it looked like in May. Yellowbook phone books were sitting on people’s lawns, porches and steps. Here’s a book placed at a condemned home.

This one just looks lonely.

These are just two examples and feel free to view the entire Flickr set of 54 pictures.

Print book advocates would argue their value by touting stats like “X percent of users view the yellow pages 1.4 times a day” or something, but pictures don’t lie.

What print book advocates also say is to simply recycle your old yellow pages when your new book arrives. OK, this does make sense. So, you should accept the Dex book that comes in May and then put it in the recycle bin in July when your new Yellowbook shows? In September, you can then recycle your Yellowbook when Verizon Supermedia drops off your new book.

I doubt advertisers would want their print ad viewed for only two months out of the year. According to the timing of distribution, Supermedia would at least be the newest book for eight months of the year.

I’ll give Yellowbook credit. Most of the books do land closer to a door. Dex didn’t appear to have very good aim.

Nonetheless, this is just my lil’ part to try to make yellow pages opt-in.
Bookmark on Google :: pos</p>

Round One-of-Three for Yellow Pages Companies Making Minneapolis Less Pretty

May 22, 2010

For years, print yellow pages advocates have touted their stats including efforts of opting out. The YP Association reluctantly even put out their own option called and claim this one actually works.

Based on what I saw today, I highly doubt this is true. Pictures don’t lie – only people do. On a short area on Cedar Ave S. in Minneapolis, there were a ton of Dex books being ignored on steps, lawns, fences, and even on an obvious foreclosed and an abandoned home.

These have been left by Dex approximately 5 days ago so it’s safe to assume the vast majority of these folks don’t want the book. If they did, they would have brought them inside.

Originally, I wanted to return these to a local Dex distributor. You know what? Turns out the one thing impossible to find on the Internet is a phone book distributor. I wonder why? Instead I took a bunch of pictures and put them on Flickr.

Dex, do the right thing and come back to pick up your trash that makes Minneapolis less pretty. Yellowbook and Supermedia, take notice as you get your turn to litter Minneapolis soon.

Here’s an example of Dex littering our city.

Yellow Pages on Apartment Doorstep

Yellow Pages on Apartment Doorstep

This house had a locked gate so you can’t get to the doorstep. I suppose tossing the bag over the fence for them to get wet works just as well.

Unwanted Phone Book Getting Wet

Unwanted Phone Book Getting Wet

Maybe the delivery person was scared of the dog?

Beware of Dog

Beware of Dog

OK Dex, this is a foreclosed home. Whoever delivered this would easily know this. Why did you deliver here?

Yellow Pages at Foreclosed Home

Yellow Pages at Foreclosed Home

And of course the big pile in our parking area. Like every recent year, there will eventually be a dent. Around 4-6 months from now someone  (hopefully Dex) will come take the rest away.

Yellow Pages in Parking Garage

Yellow Pages in Parking Garage

I mentioned earlier, but you can view the whole set on Flickr.

Big YP companies don’t like it when information like this gets shown. The more books that get delivered allow the YP association to artificially inflate their circulation stats. Who pays for this? The business advertiser who is getting ripped off. It’s also just one reason YP fights opt-out lists.

Again, pictures don’t lie. Aside from the last picture downtown, these pictures of over-delivery are just on one street in south Minneapolis. Can you imagine how much litter the whole city is receiving? This is just Dex. Up next, Yellowbook and Supermedia.

Bookmark on Google :: pos</p>