Last year I was asked to address an annual meeting of senior executives in the yellow pages business (I ended up doing two more after that, in fact). They were a bit concerned about Google, Yahoo, and Web 2 in general. Was their business imperiled?
Ummm….yeah, I told them. But they had the resources to address it. Among the recommendations I made to them was one I thought deeply obvious – let your readers/users on your online services rate the merchants, and use those ratings to start a conversation with your merchants that helped them turn all their businesses into conversations – I argued that with search, all business is a conversation, and only those who could engage would win in the end. They had thousands of sales reps on the street – train them to help merchants engage with audiences online.
I was struck by the response – one exec raised his hand and said, and I paraphrase – “You’re asking me to tell my advertisers to invite criticism? You’re asking me to actually create a platform that lets that criticism happen? Are you nuts?”
General nodding and murmurs of assent followed.
“Er…yes,” I answered. “Yahoo already does. And Google does too (though not as well….). You better also, or you’re…well…toast.”
Well. Imagine my surprise to read this news.
YELLOWPAGES.COM ( http://www.yellowpages.com/ ), a subsidiary of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) , today announced it has rolled out User Reviews to its national site, enabling consumers to share opinions on local and national businesses from caterers and pool cleaners to jewelers and pet groomers.
Wow. I get the sense that you were listening, Yellowpages.com! Thanks!