But as they try to retool to improve their competitive position, the IYPs should ask themselves: Are bells and whistles what local searchers are really looking for? What are the signature strengths that differentiate IYPs from other local search offerings?
Searchers use phone directory listings in two ways: to find the phone number, address, or driving directions to a business they already know; or to search for a business based on a category or keyword. To remain competitive, IYPs must focus on matching the searchers’ needs with the merchant’s capabilities. Inclusion of locator information in a listing is more critical to a retail establishment that relies on walk-in traffic, for example, than it would be to an on-call service provider, such as a plumber or an electrician. Even a business without a Web site may have e-mail capability. Perhaps it would be a likely candidate for a pay-per-call service (that’s another column or two in itself). An IYP can offer enhanced listings or business profiles to provide searchers with simple but vital information, such as business hours and payment options. In some cases, that eliminates the need for a Web site.