As many of you know, Idearc rebranded itself this week as SuperMedia, exited chapter 11 protection and are back trading on the stock market (NASDAQ this time) under the SPMD symbol. For the occasion, they issued a very advertiser-focused press release with a few quotes from CEO Scott Klein.
“SuperMedia will serve as a “catalyst of commerce” for local businesses across the country” (…)
“I have great faith in the strength and promise of America’s small businesses,” Klein said. “Over these past two years the outstanding men and women that drive these local businesses have seen more than their fair share of heartache, instability and struggles.” Klein pointed to the more than 12 million small and medium businesses that are the heart and soul of local commerce and are in need of help. (…)
“On this day I want to make it crystal clear that SuperMedia is stepping up,” Klein said. “We are standing shoulder to shoulder with these good guys – these American entrepreneurs in the fight for their success, becoming their champion and an engine for their growth.” (…)
“We will not rest until every dry cleaner, roofer, auto repair shop and every other local business across America is given the opportunity to grow and thrive,” Klein said. “We are more than marketing. We are more than media. We are over, above and beyond media. We are SuperMedia.”
What it means: I absolutely love the “local merchant” positioning for a directory publisher. In the eyes of consumers, I think “local shopping” is currently perceived to be good for the economy, good for the environment and it’s a powerful communication angle. But it also made me think how much the directory industry has neglected the buyer side of the equation when building products and communicating in the last 10 years. In the 1990’s, print directories were dearly loved by consumers who saw them as very useful and friendly. There was an emotional connection. Unfortunately for the industry, it’s not as true today.
I understand the need for SuperMedia to talk about advertisers in the context of this press release because that’s what Wall Street is mostly interested in (i.e. revenues) but Yellow Pages publishers need to regain the heart of consumers as well. The old habits of focusing on sales and advertisers is not easy to break. Make no mistake. I’m not specifically picking on SuperMedia as they’ve been very active on this front with the Superguarantee program but I think the industry needs to step-up. I ask publishers: what are you doing for consumers today?. How are you helping them make better choices? Are you reducing the time it takes them to find the right merchant? Are you connecting them to the right options? Are they stretching their dollars because of you? If you can make people’s life easier, you have a good story to tell.