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The Ever Changing Dex

I‘ll never forget the time I was at a tradeshow in 1996 or 1997 and ran across the USWest “yellow pages” directory folks.  I approached them about the Internet and they all looked at me like I was talking jibberish.

For those of you who don’t know who USWest is, it’s now Dexone or Dex or Dex something without the phone companies attached.

Over the years they’ve morphed and changed from one of the Baby Bells to a separate phone company with a yellow page division; to also include a cellular company – US West Cellular. This is an altogether separate story seeing that USWest Cellular changed its name to Airtouch and then some time later to Qwest.

Qwestdex was the brand that I remember when it took Qwest and added this Dex character to their name. A little later Dexonline came around and Dexknows was brought into the picture and today it’s Dex One, I think.

The only reason I say, I think, is because I see different variations of Dex and get confused.

As you can see this once Baby Bell has not only changed operationally over the years but also in the front end as their identity has gone from pretty obvious (yellow pages) to offering a large list of services, just like everyone else.

So why even bring up the past of this aging behemoth? Because it was this directory company that first approached me about online listings in 1999 and was charging $19.95 per listing, per category.

You see, I was utilizing SEO since 1995 and doing great with our business (Secrets of the Tiny Store) but was looking for additional ways to get the word out and focus more on local business. During that year I also approached DoubleClick about banner ads and searched for other directories to see what we could do about gaining exposure in our local community. Google was still very new and in the early stages of growth.

Now back to Dex…

Dex, or what was USWest at the time, had proven to be the leader for us when it came to local yellow pages. I had diligently surveyed, tracked and tested our advertising and marketing which showed them as the leader when it came to the offline yellow books.

They had a proven track record offline but when it came to online, there was no proof or easy way to track unless we did it manually, with phone numbers or relied on their tracking system.

The real problem was that their $19.95 charge was per month, per listing and when you added up our listings, it was a good chunk of change. When you compare the listings to my previous four years of SEO and there was no comparison when it came to return on investment and results.

Today, it seems that they have not changed the pricing and even added a few hoops for us small biz folk to jump through. Claiming my free listing they automatically put me in an auto-responder and had a sales rep emailing and calling.

Not that I asked for any of the above, it was just their process and way of doing business. And was the ‘rep’ flexible or even open to helping me? No, all he wanted to do was sell another package and yet here I sit still not sure about my free listing.

The funny thing about ‘Dex’ is that in my recent research for clients and prospects, I barely found them on any of the page one listings on Google or Yahoo. Yet I saw Yelp, Merchant Circle, Kudzu, Yellowpages.com, Superpages and a handful of other directories and citation sites. Dex was there in some cases, but not as visible as the other guys.

Yet here he(it or they) is again asking for my $19.95 per month, per listing, per category. 13 years later and history is repeating itself.

So, my loyal reader, when it comes to growing your small business, do business with people and companies that can help you plus will add value.  And always be on the look out for the marketing that supplies the best results and ROI. Because in the end your bottom line is what counts, not what the other guys think.

To your small business success,

Dave Krygier

Advertising Agencies – a Small Business Dilemma

What a day it is that I’m writing about the topic of Advertising Agencies and The Small Business Dilemma.

So if you own an ad agency, even if it’s you inc. or you employ an agency that works for your small business – here’s my take after 26 years of day in day out experience in the trenches, with two stints at small agencies and running an in-house agency for six years.


I believe many small business owners make it tougher on themselves than it really has to be when it comes to advertising. Why is this?

There are many different reasons but the one that sticks his head out above the rest is S&W.

In my previous post Strengths and Weaknesses, I mentioned that working in ones area of strengths can lead to a more productive working environment and have many positive side effects. Weaknesses on the other hand need to be delegated and left to those that excel and enjoy working in the specific area or areas.

When it comes to advertising and marketing:

If one is working on and in advertising and this individual should really be focusing on a different area of the business, this can put a huge kink in the works and cost the business owner money.

This leads me to the other side of the dilemma where we have the small business owner who goes back and forth between in-house agency to outside agency.

Many small businesses I’ve worked with over the years have gone back and forth between outside advertising agencies and inside advertising agencies. They work with an agency for months to years and then for any number of reasons (or excuses) decide to go ‘in house’ and either hire a do it all person or split up the workload amongst existing staff and contractors.

Either way works but having an outside ad agency that understands today’s online and offline advertising arena is a huge benefit and feather in the client’s cap.

In my opinion it also comes down to ROI plus the owner’s knowledge and grasp of advertising, marketing and sales and how they interact with each other.

Let me further expand on this last sentence and say that it’s really deeper than that. It’s the owner’s understanding or lack of understanding of ‘Current advertising and marketing channels’ and how they impact and affect his or her particular business.

Let’s wrap it up…

Ad agencies in many cases are small businesses and sometimes even one person shops that also have overhead to meet. They need clients and sales just like their clients do. But what they forget (and I have seen this time and time again) is that ROI is really the key.

Yes, return on investment for the small business owner is very important and in this day and age even more so due to the tightening of the economy. If the small business is seeing ROI and it’s directly related to advertising, then all parties should be happy campers.

So for the small biz ad agency hunting for new clients I say -” Show your prospects how you can deliver ROI.” And once you do this, share the testimonial with all who will read, listen and view.

This is where SmallBiz Mechanix comes into play for the solo-preneur and small business owner who needs guidance and direction when it comes to driving new business, increasing sales and navigating the web. Whether you’re a one-person show or team of twenty, The SmallBiz Mechanic may be able to help you drive more business and increase sales.

But you’ll never know until you take the first step and make contact.

Dave Krygier





Advertising & The Salesperson

Advertising is salesmanship and today I’m gonna give it to you with both barrels.

At the last big System Seminar in 2011 I heard this mentioned again and it really rang home with me because so many ads I’ve come across never even hint of sales. They just don’t even come close, except to show some creative persons idea of brand awareness.

During a recent lunch meeting with a client we got on the topic of sales events and unscrupulous sales tactics and a firm that was continually using these to promote businesses that were having challenges during the last decade or so.

This brings me to a series of questions:

Are you seeing ROI in your advertising? Are you seeing an increase in sales due to the advertising expenditure that shows up on your books every month?

Are you testing, split testing and tracking your advertising?

These are tough questions, I know. But you should answer them sooner than later and make sure to keep the answers honest. 

Now back to our topic…

Many times I have found that the people in the small business who are wrapping their lives around advertising and marketing should be doing something else. 

What is it that draws the owner or employee to head up the advertising and marketing charge only to stumble and bloody their nose again and again?

This is not always the case because I’ve seen business owners and managers who really understand that advertising is salesmanship. But it’s somewhat rare.

In many cases the owner wants the influx of new business thus creating what I call ‘sale, sale, sale’ advertising – only to have the salesperson be trampled by bargain hunters and tire kickers. It’s frustrating for the salesperson because he or she makes a living based on what he or she sells!

Advertising is salesmanship. It’s not about who can do the best graphics and dish out a cool looking logo with a fancy background. It’s not about ego boosts and who has the biggest ad with the bells and whistles going bonkers.

For a small business it really means this – does the advertising message accomplish something and sell the product or service? Is it just cool looking or does it really sell and get the person to do something, like a direct response ad that has a call to action.

Now let’s take a turn and look at the the sales professional. You know, the salesman or saleswoman who has chosen to invest and spend their career in the trenches as a relationship building, customer service, prospecting, merchandising machine. Most salespeople wear multiple hats and sometimes only one hat is sales-oriented.

I’m talking about the sales professional who has worked and studied for hundreds and maybe thousands of hours only to have worthless advertising make their job or business that much more difficult.

The best advertising enables the sales professional to do his or her job, not prohibit them or interfere. 

If your sales team ( or person or yourself) is going to perform at peak levels and you are investing in advertising…Support with the best marketing that you and your team can produce and afford and make sure to back it up with stellar customer service and deliver on what you advertised.

Because in the end what really matters is ROI and profits in your pockets.

To your continued success,

Dave Krygier

PS – Sometimes small business owners get overwhelmed and need help with sales and marketing. If this is you, I would suggest you contact The SmallBiz Mechanic and see if he can provide some assistance.


Testing Advertising and Your Wallet

No matter if you are testing advertising via new media or testing the effectiveness of advertising concepts, testing your advertising and marketing is very important if you intend to increase profits and return on investment.

Testing is one of the toughest topics to discuss with business owners, especially when it comes to advertising. I personally enjoy it because it’s the one area that really opened my eyes years ago and lifted the curtain so I could see behind the scenes.

Which saved us money that was being flushed down the drain by ads that didn’t produce and drive traffic to our phones, email and front door.

You see, I just got plain sick and tired of paying all these companies for advertising, yet we didn’t really know what worked and what didn’t. And neither did they!

With some business owners, I almost feel like I’m tawkin’ to tha wall. And Yes, that’s some real NY accent coming out. But I mean it has has been a challenge in the past, seeing small business owners who refuse to test their advertising and marketing.

I’ve been a tester since the mid 1990’s, when I first did it the old fashioned way with paper and spreadsheets and to some extent I still use a spreadsheet for data tracking.

What does all this mean for you, my loyal reader?

About a month ago I joined a very small group of marketers in a Testing Lab that was very intense, advanced and fast paced. No joke – it was a four week whirlwind.

As we worked though and dug into the material, one of the presenters said that 95% or more of online marketers don’t test. Now this doesn’t come as a surprise. I mean look at the off line world and small businesses that advertise both on and offline. How many do you think test, split test and survey? Not that many has been my personal experience in the last 25 plus years.

So why should the online marketer test, track and survey?

I’ve been into testing for a long time. And here’s the bottom line….If you aren’t testing then you are missing out and are most likely still playing the guessing game.

Why Guess when you can Test? 

In the ‘ole days’ we had to test the old fashioned way; with physical surveys, special phone numbers, traditional email and spreadsheets. It was a lot of work, but well worth the effort and the time it took to accumulate the data.

For our small business this meant really seeing what was working and what was not. It was an eye opening experience that made me realize how important testing and surveying can be to a small enterprise.

So let me ask you a few questions:

Do you really want to spend money on advertising? Or do you want to attract new leads and convert them into clients? And put more money in your bank account?

After all, it is your money we are talking about here, not just testing.

Are you asking the tough questions – Why is this ad working? Why is that ad not working?
If not, then you should be. It’s your business. Your wallet and your future.

The only way to know is to test and test you must, if you desire to get the best results – meaning opens, click through rates, conversions to sale, subscriptions or some kind of action.

So do you really want to take your business to the next level? Do ya? Or are you just comfortable enough to say – I’m doin’ ok Dave – this testing sounds like a lot of work.

If you are ready to make the change, then start testing today, now, pronto, ASAP! And if you need some guidance, contact The SmallBiz Mechanic, he might be able to shine some light on the subject.

Test to Success,

Dave Krygier

How to Save Money on Your Yellow Page Advertising

Do you own or run a small business that still utilizes the offline physical directories that have yellow pages in them? Do you still place ads or listings in these physical books.

If so, this article will most likely be of interest to you.

Here’s a recent story that hit home…

Just recently when I was getting my haircut – I happened to pick up a local magazine focused and aimed towards women.

This particular magazine happened to be built mostly of quarter page ads, like the one that said, ‘we are honest and fair’  – Coming from a used car dealer, this was quite the interesting sub-headline.

So I asked the gal who cuts my hair what she thought of this ad and another one and this led to the topic of the yellow pages.

Well, all of a sudden we were going back and forth and I started to share how I had at one time put the ole’ offline directory companies to the test and did a lot of testing, surveying and tracking.

Why – because I couldn’t stand paying the prices they charged us to be listed right next to my #1 competitor! After all, we were a small business and at that time all the physical books were still a big part of our marketing and outreach to bring in new business, or so we thought.

Our conversation continued and then I asked her if she would be open to a test and she said yes. So for a full week she conducted a survey to see how many people used the paper dinosaur directory and you want to know something – the number was low. More about this in a future article- so stay tuned.

So how does this story pertain to you and your business?

Here are a few steps you might consider taking if the physical directory books (and print for that matter) are still a part of your offline marketing mix.

1. Survey your prospects and clients to see where they came from and how they found you.

2. Ask your physical directory book(yellow pages) account rep to provide substantial, documented research that states what kind of response and return on investment businesses receive from their physical books.

3. Use the survey information to better position your business to find targeted, quality traffic and leads.

4. Create Ads that are response oriented and use the web to capture to the lead.

In closing…

Most small business owners don’t understand how easy it is to research.

Or it’s just not important enough that they can be bothered to do the work.

I believe this is a tragedy because physical directories and print advertising are not what they used to be in years past.

With most small businesses placing ‘image ads’ instead of ‘response driven’ ads, money is being wasted which could otherwise be put to good use bringing in new leads and clients.

Oh and by the way – have you checked out Secrets of the Tiny Store ?

Tests, Surveys, and Ma Bell

Have you been testing all your advertising and marketing or just throwing mud up on the wall like most small business owners? Maybe you’ve wanted to test but it always seems that time and/or money get in the way?

Many years ago, back in the days of retail and rentals, we tested and tracked it the good ol’ fashioned way with the telephone and personal questionnaires. Testing was very slow and archaic back in the early to mid 1990’s. It took time to gather enough information but it enabled us to see which yellow page directories, radio stations and newspapers pulled the most, but it also allowed us to see which search engines were driving traffic. At one point, USWest (now Qwestdex) actually did an interview with me to find out what we did to track and research. Before we tested and surveyed, I thought that GTE was pulling all the traffic, but it turned out that USWest was the winner, and we were wasting quite a bit of money with GTE. Had we not tested and surveyed I would have kept placing the same old ads in the same old places. With testing and surveying we were able to better define our target markets, shift more dollars towards marketing that would bring better ROI, plus serve our customers better.

My recommendation is that you test all your marketing, online and offline. This can be done by split testing and surveying. It’s much easier and faster to split test online ads today with so many online resources. AWeber’s auto-responders are a great way to keep in touch with your PSC (prospects, subscribers, and clients). By using the autoresponder, you can test and survey as much as you think is necessary. I would also pay close attention to your search engine traffic, and check the reports frequently. Another option in today’s online environment is to utilize surveys.

Working offline? Then test all your marketing to see what works and is bringing in new prospects and existing customers. If you are using offline media such as radio, you might mention your website in your ads with a special promo code. Split-test ads to see which ones pull by producing two radio commercials with two different offers. Maybe one directs the listener to your website and then the other sends people to your physical location.

Remember, test everything; track as much as you can and survey periodically to see how you’re doing with your customers and prospects. In the long run you’ll be glad you did and you might be surprised at which ads really work.

If you want to learn more about how you can use testing, tracking and surveying in your small business, checkout My New Guide Here .

Dave K