Yellow Pages Environmental Forum

Psychologists Now Want to Help You Think Green

Posted in Misc Green News by Ken C on August 15, 2008
Tags: , ,

As reported in USA Today, a four-day meeting of the American Psychological Association in Boston had some 16,000 people attend to explore how people think about environmental protection.

Among the most interesting findings:

  • Walking outside rather than inside (even just 15 minutes) tends to make people feel “happier, more energetic and more protective of the environment” – unless of course you are walking around downtown Los Angeles
  • Negative feedback about their ecological footprint undermines their environmental behavior – I assume the approach of the beatings will continue until you get it right don’t work?
  • Psychologists report that people are conscious that they should be doing more to protect the environment, yet they are confused about what to actually do. What a surprise – see prior post on this
  • News stories that include global warming skeptics seriously undermine the public’s concern over climate change. Say what? Guess people really don’t want to hear the facts?

The relevance of this item to the Yellow Pages industry is that the printed books delivered to the doorsteps of every household are an easy target because people are not informed, numerous erroneous facts have proliferated the Internet, and their perceptions are different than the reality of how this consume and use information.

The industry has a lot more educating to do.


3 Responses to 'Psychologists Now Want to Help You Think Green'

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  1. rzwetsch said,


    As always great thoughts and comments! As someone who is obviously in the know, when is “the industry” going to start educating a lot more? I know they’ve started but if this is all it’s going to be – it won’t be anywhere near enough.

    I would argue that “the industry” really doesn’t know what advertisers and Yellow Pages users need and want so maybe that’s why the “real” educating efforts haven’t yet begun. Or if they do know – they know there are BIG hurdles ahead.

    I admire your efforts,


  2. KenC said,

    Thank you for your comments, but I’m not sure your analysis is totally correct.

    The industry has worked with small businesses for over 120 years. Simply put, that businesses want advertising that makes the phone ring. They know what to do with a call — how to close it, how to work with that customer. A click is a nice thing, but many small business still aren’t sure exactly how to handle that click. Hence, advertisers continue to invest in the print products while adding some Internet based efforts.

    Specific to the users, you may not want to believe this but the call tracking results publishers have still show strong usage of the print Yellow Page products by users. They have also been adjusting the content of their directories adding headings like sushi, tattoos, and snowboards (obviously in colder climates). That doesn’t sound to me like they are ignoring their users.

    For those of you Rick that are so passionate about recycling and opt-out, I believe nearly all of the publishers are working on processes to implement programs. Will those efforts be perfect or 100% to your liking? Probably not.

    The biggest hurdle this industry faces is the rash of misinformation being bantered about the Web. I believe that’s where it’s next efforts will be focused. Armed with that accurate information, advertisers and consumers will vote with their wallets on how they want to proceed. It’s the beauty of the free market system that made this country great.

    My bet is that print Yellow Pages will continue to be a primary information resource for many years to come…..

  3. rzwetsch said,

    Thanks for your thoughts and insights. My thoughts follow corresponding to each of your paragraphs:

    (1) And here’s a perfect place for the industry to do some educating. The problem is, the educators were weaned on print so can’t be of much help to those businesses that want Internet. And if business/advertiser don’t know what to do with the Internet they get – that just compounds the problem. If the Yellow Pages reps are selling Internet or giving away Internet with a print package, they had better know how to service Internet and help their advertisers get the best return they can.

    I’m not imagining things here. I’m a small business owner and have been talking with Yellow Pages sales reps for many, many years. Long before the Internet and as recently as 8 months ago. I shake in my boots thinking about what many small businesses have knowingly and unknowingly purchased for their Web advertising and print book ads. You may remember the days when AOL first came on the advertising scene? It’s still happening now with millions of small business advertisers and their Yellow Pages sales reps. It’s not so much about what the advertiser wants and needs – it’s often about what the YP sales manager wants and needs. Not ALWAYS. Often. Which is TOO much.

    (2) I do believe it and that’s excellent! And, that’s what they should be doing. I think it’s as much the publishers thinking up as many categories as they can so they can sell more ads but ultimately, that “should” be a good thing. Can’t listen too much to users and advertisers because the books would be several thousand pages long…if they contained all the latest and greatest relevant and user/advertiser desired headings. And don’t ever forget, with the Internet they can have as many different headings as they want. Once, or course, they get their taxonomy issues squared away.

    (3) Ken, first of all, these are two pretty decent things to be passionate about.

    Second, nothing can be simpler or more perfect than opt-out. Recipient of directory doesn’t want it. They call the publisher. Publisher takes their name off the list. No room for interpretation there. The imperfection will be in how long it takes the publisher to make certain the caller doesn’t receive any more books. So…the publishers should explain very clearly how it works and the caller should expect to receive at MOST one more book. The fact that publishers don’t readily make this information available is the grind that I and many others have. Unlike many others, I actually know why…it is as it is.

    As far as recycling goes, it doesn’t matter what the books are or are not made of – every city and town has their own recycling rules that need to/should be followed. Many are the same, many are not. Some times it’s a piece of cake and other times it’s just not. Once again, the fact the publishers are not “educating” users as to what their recycling options are is a BIG problem. And, I believe it’s a huge reason that 1) so many people are so pissed off and 2) so many people just throw the books in the trash. Whether they use them or not.

    (4) Then the industry should get busy, start educating and fix it! Quit thinking about it and and just do it. Why is that such a problem?

    Sure you read my Short Note for Scott Klein. The fact that’s there’s so much misinformation being bantered about is partly or maybe mostly because the publishers aren’t doing anything about it. There are communities of users that have something to say and no one’s listening. Users are knocking at the door and no one’s home. All I and many others see is…it’s our way or the highway. We’ve been doing this for 120 years – no one knows like we know. Deal with it.

    All they’d have to do to shut everyone up is first, educate all the people that hate the books and want to tell the world how much they hate the books – how to stop receiving the books. Put the rules in the print book (where it’s obvious) and put the rules on their Web sites (again not behind six or seven links). You don’t have to be related to Uncle Al Einstein to know why they’re not doing this and don’t want to do it.

    Second, educate all the people who are megaphoning all the tainted stats and lies about trees and paper and ink – how to recycle their print books. So there’s no question and no doubt. Put the rules in the print book (not in small print) and put the rules on their Web sites (should be a major nav button). Once again, it’s blindingly obvious why this isn’t happening.

    And you’re absolutely right…the free market system is great and will rule. Kinda makes me think the market analysts could use some educating as well. They’re all part of the free market system too…right?

    (5) I think that’s a good bet. My bet is the print Yellow Pages will look radically different and will continue to morph (very, very quickly) in the years to come to the point where it truly becomes a product designed by users and advertisers for users and advertisers. That’s what the world is TODAY. That’s what the world wants…TODAY.

    Yes, the search industry has been around for 120 years. But the industry was crawling along at a snail’s pace until 10-15 years ago. It’s now moving at Mach 2 with its hair on fire. So, the publishers have a challenging opportunity in front of them. It’ll be interesting to see IF and HOW they can pull it off.

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