Smart Pages enters Jacksonville; flips 4 directories to McLeodUSA

Smart Pages enters Jacksonville; flips 4 directories to McLeodUSA – Brief Article

Barely three months after purchasing four directories on the western coast of Florida, Tony Wunsh, president of The Smart Pages (St. Paul), sold them to McLeodUSA Publishing and announced plans to launch two new books in Jacksonville.

The directories – located in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs and Clearwater, FL – are contiguous with the six directories McLeod owns to the north and south of the area. McLeod bought the three directories just to the north of the area last September from ComTel Directories (New Port Richey, FL). Wunsh bought the four directories from Valley Yellow Pages (Fresno, CA) through a limited liability corporation called Sunstate Directory (YP&DR, March 14). Sunstate sold the directories to McLeod March 12. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

“McLeod has directories just to the north and the south, and there was no room for growth,” Wunsh told YP&DR.

The Clearwater directory had a circulation of 258,899 last year and a DHC rate of $4,128. The St. Petersburg book had a circulation of 279,610 and a DHC rate of $5,064. The Tarpon Springs book had a circulation of 43,730 and a DHC rate of 2,148. The Tampa directory had a 521,788-book distribution in 2000.

Wunsh formerly owned the four directories when he was president and CEO of Sun State Publications, a company he formed in 1993. The company was acquired by the St. Petersburg Times in 1994, and the directories were sold to Valley Yellow Pages in 1997.

McLeod also purchased three Minnesota directories from Smart Pages last September.

Smart Pages eyes new Florida market

The Smart Pages is also launching two directories in the Jacksonville, FL market to compete with BellSouth’s The Real Yellow Pages books. DataNational also publishes five neighborhood directories in that area.

“The scoping will be different. BellSouth has four directories there, and we’ve made them into two. And our rates are 50% to 60% of their rate card,” Wunsh said.

The company will distribute 450,000 to 470,000 of the directories in January 2002. Smart Pages has divided the Jacksonville area along the St. John’s River. “These are small books for us, considering our Twin Cities directory in Minnesota is 1.1 million (editions),” Wunsh said. “Jacksonville is a small area, population-wise, but it is growing by leaps and bounds.”

Sales for the new directories will begin April 2. Twenty-four sales representatives have already been hired by Smart Pages.

Sales of the printed yellow pages product is being coupled with a community Web site that will be located at www.1click2jacksonville.com. It will be powered by 1clickwebsolutions.com, the online arm of Smart Pages. The site has yellow and white pages, maps, weather and community information.

The printed directories will include what Wunsh calls a printed search engine, which is a list of e-mail addresses and URLs for local businesses. An aggressive marketing campaign has also been planned. TV and radio spots will begin shortly, as will a direct mail campaign.

Over the next four or five months full-page ads will appear in Jacksonville papers about every two weeks.

The entrance into the Jacksonville market is part of Smart Pages’ “huge growth mode,” Wunsh said, as the company is seeking to enter more markets without a major independent publisher presence. “We’ll be entering six or seven more cities in the next two months,” Wunsh said.

The company’s strategy in the past has been to build big books quickly and then sell them, he said. “We’re not so sure selling is the way to go anymore,” he said.

Wunsh said his company looked at entering the Orlando market, but decided against it because R.H. Donnelley, another independent publisher, already competes there with BellSouth. Smart Pages has also been researching the Miami and Fort Lauderdale markets.

“We are looking at acquiring a small product there (in Miami or Fort Lauderdale), and then launching a big book,” Wunsh said.

Smart Pages is currently printing its first Cleveland directory, which has a circulation of 700,000 and will net the company almost $4 million in sales.

Contact: The Smart Pages can be reached at 651-917-7117 or by visiting either www.thesmartpages.com or www.1clickweb solutions.com. McLeodUSA Publishing can be reached at 319-366-1100 or by visiting www.mcleodusa.com.

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