Monthly Archives: April 2009

NakedPizza Anyone?

Would you follow your favorite healthy pizza place on Twitter? Through the power of Twitter, originally posted by @perryevans, which I found through a ReTweet by @sebprovencher – I am now following NakedPizza, a New Orleans super-health conscious pizza joint. The article that my twitter friends were talking about is “A Sign Of Things To Come: Naked Pizza Erects Twitter Billboard” from TechCrunch.

So, what did NakedPizza do that deserves such mention? Simple. They are using traditional media combined with social media to stay connected with their customers. Check out the picture below from TechCrunch.

TechCrunch - NakedPizza and Twitter Billboard

From the article – “But if a business can get a customer to add their Twitter handle, it gets a free channel to constantly remind them that they exist. By tweeting out promotions a few times a week, Naked Pizza will maintain a presence in the customer’s consciousness, and the customer gets a chance to score some cheap pizza.

What a brilliant strategy from a small business. Back in 2005, when I operated KS2 Solutions Inc., a Calgary based Internet Marketing firm, I did a lot of public speaking about small business marketing and how SMB’s could leverage the Internet. In February of that year I posted a blog titled, “Are You Letting Sales Slip Away” in which I discussed the importance of staying connected with your customers. At that time, the message in terms of doing this was through a eNewsletter, however, move ahead 4-years and now there is Twitter.

Twitter is likely one of the best tools, since eNewsletters, for constant communication with your customers. From a user perspective, I can follow my favorite local, regional or national brand players who will inform me through tiny 140 character updates about products, specials or whatever. When I compare Twitter to Email, I see 3 key advantages –

1) more viral, easier to share Tweets as opposed to forwarding emails
2) promotes two-way communication
3) small, short and focused messages, no more rambling newsletters about how great you are

I am still a fan of the eNewsletter but Twitter could be the next best thing to staying connected with your customers.

By the numbers, as of this posting:

1942 – the number of people following @NakedPizza
62 – the number of comments on the article posted on TechCrunch (note: was 60 when I started writing this blog post)
4 – the number of times my wife has asked me if I am done yet

[praized subtype=”big” name=”true” address=”true” phone=”true” pid=”2badfefe121645a307dc20956f9bcf7d” type=”badge” dynamic=”true”]

Directory Assistance in Canada – Paid and Free DA – Facts Every Consumer and Small Business Owner Should Know

This post is about the Canadian Directory Assistance landscape. For users, I will highlight the paid and free services available in Canada, their feature lists, and where to access ‘people search’ or residential data. On the business side I will highlight what every business owner in Canada needs to know to ensure that their business is accessible via voice search, even if you a cellular only business.

The approach was simple, friends along with myself picked up the phone and started dialing. To be fair I used cellular only, as I hardly know anybody that actually has a land line anymore. I had testers using the service on different providers as well as different provinces to get a national feel.

If you know of other services or would like to share your story using any of the services listed below, please feel free to comment at the end of this post.


Paid Directory Assistance – Dial 411

First, let’s take a look at the paid directory services. I will focus on the big 3, Telus (landline and mobility), Rogers (cable and mobility) and Bell (landline and mobility). The user side of these services are accessed directly by dialing 411 which will connect you to an automated attendant. You will then be given the option of requesting business, person or government listings.

What you may not know is that for Telus and Rogers, you have the option of selecting a Yellow Pages category search which will connect you to the Yellow Pages 411 voice activated service. See below for the feature list on Yellow Pages 411.

Please note that these services have different billing rates so check with your service provider.

Links to the paid directory assistance providers:

Telus Directory Assistance
Bell Directory Assistance
Rogers Directory Assistance – note: there is no content on this page, looks like a placeholder


Free Directory Assistance in Canada

In this section we will look at 3 free directory assistance services available to Canadian consumers. Note: all these DA services will only allow you access to business name and category searches. All these services are available from a landline, VoIP, cable or mobile phone.

I have included a feature list after the introduction of these Free DA services.

Yellow Pages 411
Available through 1-877-310-9356 or by dialing 310-0411. If you live in a province that does not support 310 dialing, simply add your (area code) in front of the 310-0411.

For more information please visit Yellow Pages 411.

Google
Available through 1-800-GOOG-411. This is the only Canadian service that also supports business listings from the US.

For more information please visit Google 411.

CanPages
Available through 310-4110, I could not find a toll-free number. I also could not find a dedicated URL on the CanPages site for their voice service. This service is also not a national service.

Doing a quick feature comparison of these services here is what I have found. I have broken this list down into 3 main buckets:

Search Type
– we know all these services do business name and category search, but I wanted more. Therefore the sub-category search is defined as the following – if you ask for Pizza, the system will prompt you for Delivery, Take-Out or Dine-In. This is a very important distinction to help narrow results, otherwise, you will get a mash-up of services with no clear indication of whether or not a business provides the specific service you are looking for.

Location Refinement
– we know all these services do city wide searches, but again, I wanted more. Most likely voice related search will be conducted in major urban markets, therefore, the ability to narrow results via neighborhood, landmark or even via intersection, is actually pretty important. The last thing any consumer needs is to be standing in downtown Vancouver and getting a list of results that cover the entire city when what you really want is “Sushi Restaurant Near Robson and Homer”.

Language Preference
– we know all these services will work in English. However, Canada has two official languages and the second largest province (Quebec) with a population of under 8 million or about 27% of Canada’s population is a very large market. Therefore, the ability to offer voice services in both of Canada’s official languages is very important. On this note, it is very disappointing to see a company like Google not offer their services in French, this is surprising.

Here is the feature list, based on criteria that I felt important to a consumer:

Canadiand Free Directory Assistance Comparison


For Business Owners – Where You Need To Ensure Your Data Is Listed

From a small business perspective, DA whether Paid or Free is a very important piece for making sure that your customers can get your phone number and address. Therefore, the ultimate question for any business owner is “How do I ensure that I am properly listed?”. The short-answer is simple. If you are in the Yellow Pages Directories or on YellowPages.ca, you are already listed in all the services listed above, with perhaps the exception of CanPages (CanPages does not list specifically where they purchase or get their business data from).

How does your small business data flow specifically?

The graph below shows the flow of data information. YellowPages.ca data is provided to Google Maps which in turn is what is used for Google 411. YellowPages.ca data is provided to Yellow Pages 411 which in turn is the service that can be accessed for free or via paid DA by Telus and Rogers customers. So having your business listed with YellowPages.ca in the right category ensures that your business data is syndicated to all these major players in providing voice directory assistance.

Syndication of Business Listing Data in Canada for Directory Assistance

If you are not listed, then what? Contact Yellow Pages Group to Add Your Free Listing. One FAQ – What if you’re a cell phone subscriber? Cell phone subscribers are also entitled to a free business* listing in their local Yellow Pages directory and in our directory Web sites YellowPages.ca and Canada 411. Go to the Contact Us section of this site to speak to a Yellow Pages Group representative for more info.

Finally, what about People Directory Assistance in Canada

People Search‘ via voice is currently limited to the paid DA providers in Canada. I am not even sure that I have seen a voice enabled ‘people search’ service in the US – if anybody knows of one, please feel free to comment.

However, if you are a lucky Canadian to own either a Blackberry or an iPhone, the Yellow Pages Mobile applications for Blackberry and iPhone are currently the only integrated mobile apps that provide business, residential and reverse lookup services.

You Can Read My Previous Posts on Business, Residential and Reverse Look-up Mobile Services:

iPhone Application – Canadian People Finder Now Available on April 3
A Canadian First – Blackberry Application Featuring People Search on March 30

I hope that you find this information useful and please feel free to add your comments regarding directory assistance services.

My Blog is Fully iPhone Compatible – Thanks to WPtouch: Mobile Plugin

Today I am officially announcing that my blog is iPhone compatible. I really could not take my credit for this, rather I need to give the credit to Brave New Code for developing the WPtouch Mobile Plugin. Here is what they say about their plugin – “More than just a plugin, WPtouch is an entire theme package for your WordPress website. Modeled after Apple’s app store design specs, WPtouch makes your WordPress website load lightning fast on touch mobile devices, show your content beautifully, all while not interfering with your regular theme.Read More.

Okay, so how is this. First, you download the plugin, then you install it through your wordpress control panel and fully your customize it by adding analytic code and even Google Adsense code to get mobile advertising. That is pretty much it and you are up and running. If a user types if your blog on their iPhone, they will see a nicely formatted blog.

Here is an example of what the home page of my blog looks like on the iPhone,

Darby Sieben Home Page iPhone

If you want to see an snippet of the posting, you can click on the down arrow key beside the title to see a preview of the entire article:

Darby Sieben iPhone Article Expanded

The plugin very nicely displays images from within your blog posts:

Darby Sieben iPhone Images in Blog Post

Finally, you can read all the comments as well as post new comments directly from your iPhone:

Darby Sieben iPhone Blog Comments

Overall this is one of the best plugins and an absolute must for anybody who has a blog and wants to ensure it is compatible with the iPhone or the iPod touch.


Quick update regarding the YellowPages.ca Application in iTunes, as of this afternoon, we are now the #4 most downloaded application in iTunes Canada. See my original post introducing Canada’s Only Integrated Business and People Search for the iPhone. Check out the screenshot below:

YellowPages.ca iPhone Application - #4 Top Download in Canada

Canada’s Only Integrated Business and Person Finder for the Iphone Is a Hit

Well it has been a very busy week in the world of mobile applications for Yellow Pages Group. We were the first to launch a Canadian Business Directory Blackberry Application on April 1 and then we followed that up on April 2 with Canada’s first integrated business, people and reverse lookup for the iPhone. Read the official corporate press release – Yellow Pages Group Launches Mobile Search Applications For Blackberry® And iPhone™

In 7-days we have managed to become the 7th most popular application in iTunes (screen capture done on April 9). See screenshot below:

iPhone Business Directory Application

So in the last 7-days, here are some of the comments about our application YellowPages.ca iPhone Application:

Read Warren Fray’s review over at TechVibes – Yellow Pages challenges Canpages for iPhone dominance, here is an excerpt:

It’s not that the Yellowpages app is in any way badly put together. In fact, in terms of presentation, the overall design feel is somewhat slicker than the Canpages app. The Yellowpages.ca app doesn’t have speech-driven search and it isn’t as feature-rich as the Canpages app, but by keeping things simple it actually succeeds. Read the full article.

Mike Boland weighs in from a business perspective on the importance of mobile applications on the Kelsey Blog. “The name of the game for directory publishers these days is to build up traction and traffic through their own branded mobile apps as well as listing distribution on other mobile local search apps.Read the rest.

Sebastien Provencher on this blog comments, “happy to see that directory publishers are releasing new mobile apps. Obviously, in the medium/long term, it is a critical component of the distribution mix.”

Finally, here are some comments within iTunes about what people are saying about this application:

YellowPages.ca Reviews

Overall it has been a pretty exciting week on the mobile front for my team. One last comment, many of you might be wondering about traffic and the growth. Although I cannot disclose specifics, I can tell you that so far the doubling of traffic almost daily has been truly amazing to watch. It is glad to see that Canadians love it.

iPhone Application – Canadian People Finder Now Available

Canada’s original find a person website, Canada411.ca is now available on through iTunes for your iPhone and iPod. Just like your white pages, this application allow you to search for any person in Canada, coast to coast.

Features include:

– two search boxes, who and where (search by city keyword, neighborhood or GPS search)
– search businesses nearby a person’s location
– save information in your MyFavs or your Address Book
– application features business search with additional enhanced information
– Canada’s only integrated business and people Reverse Look-up Feature

Canada 411

Canadian People Finder

Available for free. Click here to launch your iTunes.