Yesterday Marilyn Neal of Local Insight Media gave a talk about how the Yellow Pages industry has changed over 40 years and how there is still a lot of innovation to come.  She then proceeded to give an amazingly detailed prescription for how to manage your print yellow pages salesforce (note if you are looking for somone to run a large salesforce you need to hear how she does it, it’s pretty impressive).  The thing I didn’t hear was anything about innovation.

I happened to mention this to Todd Leiser of ValPak and he responded that for a lot of his customers there is already “too much innovation” and they can’t make sense of it.  As a silicon valley SEO guy I guess I am biased towards wanting to see the next cool thing, but Todd’s words made a lot of sense to me.

I then reflected back on Marilyn’s talk and thought that she is being fairly innovative in that she has figured out how to milk every last ounce of productivity out of print which you could argue is a declining asset.

A lot of the talk at this conference has been less about the new new thing and more about how to serve customers better and make higher profits.  I guess that’s pretty innovative for an industry that had been a kind of monopoly for so long.

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2 Response Comments

  • Jay Ehret  September 17, 2008 at 6:37 am

    I agree with Todd Leiser. The anarchy that is the internet has led to an inundation of innovation. Most normal people cannot keep up with all the advancements and features.

  • Mark Jackson  September 17, 2008 at 9:51 am

    Disappointing. How can the industry focus on the lack of innovation, merely serving customers better and making higher profits, when the state of local search is really a commoditization (is that a word?) of business listings? I just read a great article in Forbes about Ethan Stock, Zvents. I’m not going to another conference as long as they keep covering the same topics. Marilyn sounds like she has the right perspective; this is the internet folks! Innovate or die.