Smarter Yellow Page Advertising – Part 1 – Targeting Your Market

The small business is the backbone of the Yellow Pages. So, whether you are the local insurance agent, plumber, auto repairer, dentist, or attorney, you are most probably a YP advertiser and have another thing in common. You hate paying that monthly bill. I should know. I was a YP sales rep for 25 years and I can honestly say I never heard a customer thank me for our high rates. Instead, every year, the first question out of their mouths was, how much did it go up now? Gee, not even a, “Nice to see you again, Jeff? How’s the family?” No, they got right to the bottom line.

How could I blame them? In some cases they were spending $1000’s a month and had no idea whether it was even worth it. So it was up to me to calm them down and re-explain the value of the directory and their investment. We never called it an expense. It was always an investment in the business’s future. So I showed them a variety of success stories and how much money XYZ Plumbing was making that year. Though I somehow doubted how that was supposed to help them pay their bill. But I did ultimately have a point. The YP worked well for many small businesses if they made the correct decisions.

Some of those were in regard to being in the right book. Often times, they would give me a strange look. I could I be in the wrong place? Well, look at your marketplace. Where do most of your customers come from? If you were in the Metro-Wide book and reaching all one million customers, wouldn’t that make sense? No, not if you only serviced the Eastside and charged a small fortune to go to the North or Westside. Suppose you could save 75% by only being in that smaller Eastside directory? How would you feel now? But the rep told you to be in both because we don’t know which book they are using. Fine, put a small ad in each with a special tracking phone number in each and spend the next year monitoring your calls. Then simply adjust your ad budget the following year to match the results. So, the Metro got you 100 calls and the Eastside, 400. Place 25% of your money into the Metro book and 75% in the Eastside. The bonus is that the Eastside book is much less expensive and you end up with a larger ad, which kelps pull in your local market better.

Many times it’s cheaper to be in several small books than one large one. Although your rep will give you usage numbers that say you need to be in the larger book, doing your own tracking research is the only sure way to discover the truth. Reps make money off commission so they can’t be completely objective. Then, once you are happy with your choice of books, we can move on to the next subject, the heading or category. In the meantime, check out my book on other great cost-saving tips from “Inside the Yellow Pages,” available on amazon or off my website at and good luck and good selling.

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The Best Breweries in the Milwaukee Area

Milwaukee’s craft beer scene is booming, with ten new breweries opening in the area in 2016. With so many to visit, it’s difficult to narrow down the best ones. Here are a few favorites… two old and two new:

Lakefront Brewery/Beer Hall
According to Brewery President Russ Klisch, the business started when his brother, Jim, expressed interest in beer making, and Russ humored him by giving him a homebrewing book. Impressed with Jim’s beer, Russ decided he could brew one better. In short, sibling rivalry and common interest led both brothers to begin entering homebrewing contests and winning awards. It wasn’t long before family and friends encouraged them to turn their hobby into a business.

They began brewing with 55-gallon stainless steel drums and used dairy equipment. On December 2, 1987 they sold their first barrel of beer to the Gordon Park Pub. With the brewery up and running, the infamous tour started soon after! As Lakefront’s popularity grew, so did their production: by 1988, sales jumped to 72 barrels; by 1989, 125 barrels; and sales began doubling after that.

The tour is one of the best in town. The guides are extremely enthusiastic, especially when the tour is conducted by one of the Klisch brothers. It was one of the first brewery tours where they allowed you to drink beer before, during and after the tour. One of the fun parts is hearing the theme from Laverne & Shirley while they demonstrate the bottling line.

The brewery is located in a large beer hall space, with tall ceilings, brick walls, and communal tables. It’s right on the riverfront, with a patio in the back. The brewery transformed from a basic beer hall, where beer was only available with the tokens that you’d receive on a tour. Then they became popular for their Friday night fish fry. Now they serve a variety of basic bar food all the time (counter service) and all the beer is available for purchase at the bar.

Some options are salads, sandwiches, tacos, pretzels, cheese and wurst boards, as well as desserts. On a recent visit, they had 12 beers on tap. They are also one of the first breweries in the country to feature organic and gluten free beers.

Favorite beers:
• Eastside Dark Munich Dunkel – Sweet and roasty flavor, beautifully smooth and drinkable, not at all intimidating.
• Fuel Cafe Organic Stout – Excellent, inviting aroma, full bodied, roasted malt in full evidence.

Sprecher Brewing Company
Sprecher Brewing Co. was founded in 1985 by Randal Sprecher, formerly a brewing supervisor at Pabst Brewing Company. From 1985 to 1994, the brewery was located at 730 W. Oregon Street in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point area. Through the first ten years the company grew steadily, as more and more people found out about Sprecher’s high quality beers and sodas. Finally, the company had outgrown its original facility and began looking for a new location to continue its growth. In 1994, Sprecher purchased its current building, located at 701 W. Glendale Ave., a former elevator car factory. The new, larger brewery enabled the company to continue growing.

The Gift Shop/Tasting Room is open Mon-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 11am-5pm. Tours are available daily for $6; check the website for times. You must call ahead for reservations.

Back in the day, Randal Sprecher would handle brewery tours, which were made memorable thanks to his obvious passion for the craft. For a bit of a different experience, try one of the Reserve tastings offered on weekends for $20. Reserve tastings are done in smaller groups than the regular tour/tastings and feature the company’s premier and limited edition products. Each guest will receive ten samples of Sprecher beers, each paired with a different artisan cheese.

They offer five year-round beers, five premium reserve, plus seasonal beers, as well as a large variety of sodas. They are well known for their root beer.

Though they don’t serve food at the brewery (other than cheese), they have opened four pubs, located in Glendale, Lake Geneva, Madison and Wisconsin Dells. The Lake Geneva location is a favorite, right on the lakefront with a nice outdoor deck. The Glendale pub is also nice, located in the Bayshore Town Center mall. They have a very good menu with German and American options, happy hour Mon-Fri, as well as varying daily food specials.

Favorite beer:
Black Bavarian – Best Schwarzbier brewed in the U.S.; Huge roasty character, big malty body.

The Fermentorium
Located just outside of Cedarburg, The Fermentorium opened its doors early in 2016. Kristopher Volkman is the founder and president, a locally raised homebrewer.

Currently offering ten beers on tap with plans to expand, the brewery also distributes to restaurants and bars all over Southeastern Wisconsin.

The tap room is currently open Tue-Fri 4pm-10pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-10pm. It’s a modern space, very open, comfortable place to hang out and drink beer. The brewing area is in the right half of the room, separated by a wall of windows, so that you can view the process.

For a newly opened establishment, they are already making several outstanding beers, so it was difficult to narrow down favorites.

Favorite beers:
• Strawberry Tart – Berliner Weisse; great combo to balance sourness and strawberry.
• Safe Passage – Porter; huge roasted malt flavor, malty aroma pervasive, outstanding example of style.

Good City Brewing
Their motto is “Seek the Good.” The first brewery on Milwaukee’s east side, Good City opened in June. The three founders connected in 2015 and immediately hit it off, sharing a love for craft beer and the untapped potential of Milwaukee. Andy Jones is a brewmaster who left Goose Island Brewing in Chicago to move to Milwaukee and work for Lakefront Brewery as plant manager for six years. David Dupee is an entrepreneur with a background in securities and regulatory compliance, founder of crowdfunding platform CraftFund, which was formed to help food and beverage companies raise capital from passionate customers and local residents. Dan Katt is a Milwaukee real estate developer.

Good City has a modern, airy tap room with a large bar area, outdoor seating, and shiny fermenters just out of the wrapper. The menu offers a good variety of taproom snacks, cheese and meats, salads, brewfood, and dinner entrees. No more than seven options in each category, so the choices are not overwhelming (a good thing). There are several vegetarian items. There are ten beers on tap.

Favorite beers:
• Pils – Medium body, hoppy Czech style, smooth as silk.
• Detail Porter – Dark, deep color, roasted coffee and chocolate flavors dominate; outstanding example of style.

People Still Eat Out in a Recession

Applebee’s just opened their first restaurant in Saskatchewan, so last Sunday we decided to go there with some friends for supper. Once we got there we were informed there was a 45 minute wait, so we left and tried Eastside Mario’s which had a 40 minute wait. Now frankly I’m not ready to wait that long, I don’t have the patience, so we called Houston Pizza and they said they weren’t busy and there would be no wait. All three restaurants were in the same vicinity. I’ll admit that Applebee’s was probably busy because it’s new but Eastside Mario’s has been open for at least a couple years.

So why it is that two restaurants have people waiting to get a table, at a time when we’re supposed to be in a recession, while Houston Pizza have empty tables on a night that many people go out for dinner?

There are a few reasons and a few lessons business owners can learn from these two restaurants that have customers waiting to get in. One thing they have going for them is their success at branding, the other is having the advantage of being an international chain of restaurants. They have created a distinct environment that is different from your average family restaurant. They have well trained staff and systems in place so you will receive the same level of service in any of their restaurants. They have items on their menu that you don’t see at most family restaurants. Houston Pizza, on the other hand, doesn’t really offer anything different than you could get at any pizza restaurant in the city. It’s not that the food is bad, but it’s nothing special either.

What this tells me is that people are still spending money by going out for dinner but, when they do they want it to be more than just the same old, they want to experience something new. The restaurant industry is very competitive and the ones that will succeed will be those that serve quality meals with excellent service, and do it consistently. They will offer more than just a meal, they will create a dining experience that is fun and exciting.

If you read the March issue of the Entrepreneur’s Business Bulletin, you’ll know I just had my 60th birthday. Well, my wife surprised me by inviting some friends and family to have dinner at Golf’s restaurant, which is a place we go to only on special occasions. For the most part everything went fine, they let us use tickets we had bought for New Year’s which we hadn’t used because of a storm that night. Most people enjoyed their food and the service was ok.

Golf’s has been around for probably more than 30 years and will probably be around in the future. The thing I found though is that it doesn’t offer anything different or extra than you can find at most other high end restaurants in the city. They didn’t provide anything that would want me to pick them over one of the others. In fact a few things happened that would question us even going back.

For example, they wanted to charge $6.00 a plate for someone who couldn’t eat much and wanted to share something from her husband’s plate. Adding a 15% gratuity to everyone’s bill I thought was a bit presumptuous. I think its fine to tip but it should be up to me to decide how much, which is often dependent on the level of service.

The thing I out though is they didn’t do anything different to distinguish themselves from any other high end restaurant. When we went to the Cottage one year ago for our anniversary they gave us a complementary liqueur after our meal. It was one of the little things they did to make the evening special. This restaurant didn’t do anything to make it special. Don’t get me wrong I don’t like a lot of fan fair on my birthday, but this is one time they could have done something to make a positive impression, that would encourage others to go there when they’re celebrating a special occasion. There were about 16 people at our table and the table next to us was also celebrating a birthday and had about the same number of people. That’s 32 people that may not go back, but if they had done everything they could to make it special, perhaps we would want to go back.

If you do the math the average cost per meal is $40 x 32 that’s $1,200. If you consider the number of occasion’s people celebrate in a year you can begin to see the potential that could come from these 32 people. The added cost of any special offer would more than be offset by repeat business.

I would have tried to get everyone who came, to give their name and address with the date of their birthday and anniversary. I’d explain that there are special offers to help people celebrate and that they’d receive additional information. You might even mention that they’d receive a special gift on their birthday. I would do everything I could to get them back because after they’ve been there four times they’re more than likely to remain loyal customers.

The principles applied here can be applied to any business. It’s all about doing the little extras that make a difference. Those businesses that do will have a big advantage, because so few do.