How is The Brownbook different?

There are plenty of yellow pages, phone book and business directory web sites around the world, most of which have online offerings eg Yell, Sensis, Superpages… They all have a model where they employ a very expensive sales force, an expensive production process and produce a fat telephone directory. Understandably they try to protect the revenue they earn from the printed directory they produce as typically they make a handsom profit margin. They are the gorillas in the market and as the internet revolution has not yet shown them a way to earn equivalent margins they seem to be very half hearted in embracing the new ways of the Internet of today.

There are also plenty of local review sites that are becoming popular eg Yelp ,Qype etc. these are really filling a demand that has not been catered for to date. Reviews have always been at odds with the traditional directory advertising model. How many businesses are going to pay substantial sums of money to a yellow pages / business directory company that then lets customers post negative comments against their listing? And as a yellow pages / business directory owner, how are you going to manage this? Ah I hear you say, if you are an open minded business owner, you will see this as advantageous because you are gaining knowledge from your customer which means you can do something about it. Yes, I agree, I would also highlight that it is a big risk if you are a traditional directory provider as a small dent in customer renewals next year, or adding an additional 1% of unsatisfied users translates to millions in lost profit.

So how is different from review sites and traditional directory web sites?

Well for starters, the philosophies, business drivers and costs models are completely different:

Question – Who are the experts?
Answer – The people, the customers and the business employees and owners.

We no longer need others to do this for us (to collect and update the data), we now have the Internet where set up costs are low, where everyone is connected and where we are used to producing, sharing and communicating freely online.

When you find that your entry in the phone book is wrong, or your Post Office postcode – address is wrong it takes a large amount effort to have it corrected. Wouldn’t it be easier to do it yourself if you had access to their system?

So The Brownbook is all about people production, where anyone and everyone can add, edit or review a business entry and the change is immediate. The Brownbook is to the directory industry what Wikipedia is to the Britannica encyclopedia.

Question – who decides where The Brownbook will have coverage and which types of business will be included?
Answer – you, me – we all do!

There are no geographic boundaries and no limit on the tags that you can use to describe a business and its location. Again its down to the experts again, any one of us (you included) can add, edit and review any business, its completely open.

Then there is the point that The Brownbook does not live and die on reviews of businesses. We will add as many businesses as we can to make Brownbook useful from day one, but then its down to everyone to make it even more valuable for everyone else. Clubs can utilize The Brownbook for club members and use the tagging system to their advantage, communities can utilize the Brownbook to make others aware of rogue traders and great traders, to name a few , and of course we can all add, edit and review businesses.

Then what about all those businesses that don’t usually appear in traditional business directories, baby sitters, dog walkers, cleaners… well they are all very welcome in The Brownbook.

Its for these reasons that we have titled The Brownbook, ‘the open business directory’. And for these reasons that The Brownbook is fundamentally different from what is in the market today.