Are yellow pages publishers so desperate they're willing to make deals? It seems so.
It's tough to be a yellow pages publisher today. Extremely high profit margins have attracted new competitors. A long history of unresponsive personnel, poor customer service, extremely aggressive salespeople, and a we win/you lose attitude have resulted in high levels of customer antipathy. Then, the growing use and convenience of the Internet has started eating into your very business model. Businesses no longer feel trapped; they have alternatives. Pardon me while I shed a tear or two over their plight.
Yup. It's tough when your competition's increasing and your customers hate you and need you less and less. Throw in a recession and life gets so bad that you're forced to actually negotiate in good faith. Worse, you might even have to agree to getting paid for real performance.
Stunningly, this is exactly what some contractors are encountering if they're insistent enough. Recently, a Dallas air conditioning contractor managed to get the yellow pages to agree to a minimum call volume each month or the ad was heavily discounted (almost free). Moreover, to "count," each call had to last a minimum length of time. All calls, of course, were routed through a special number for tracking.
This program is especially attractive for air conditioning and other industries that experience seasonal demand. Why pay for 12 months of advertising when the ad only works for three or four months?
The contractor was able to negotiate this plan because he was willing to walk away from the deal and abandon the yellow pages altogether. The threat was credible. He had done it before.
When the yellow pages reps brought the contractor the contract and demanded he sign on the spot, the contractor refused. He explained, matter-of-factly, that he'd been lied to, too many times by this company. He would take the contract home and read every word. The yellow pages rep meekly agreed.
You may never have as much negotiating power with the yellow pages as you have today. Today you do not need take or leave their offer. Today you can give them yours.