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,