Would you buy your accounting software from Yell?

Accountants may be interested to learn that the Yell Group, the international yellow pages telephone directory company, has unveiled its four year strategy to combat its £2.7 billion debt burden.

Michael Pocock, the company’s new chief executive, said he wanted Yell to move away from being an advertising business to one that supplies the SME market with digital services.

Last week, Yell announced a tie-up with Microsoft and also acquired Znode, the e-commerce website builder. As well as creating a local e-marketplace network within the next four years, Pocock hopes to see Yell selling payroll and accounting software and IT hardware.

Yell currently has a sales force numbering around 6,000 persons and 20% of them are UK based. Pocock explained that Yell has the largest sales force covering the SME market and instead of contacting advertisers annually, they will start contacting them on a much more regular basis.

Yell has been trying to encourage all of its small business customers to go online and has been building their websites for several years. By the end of this year, the company will have built website for just over 30% of its 1.3 million customers.

The company also intends to create local consumer marketplaces; for example on university campuses. It will work in conjunction with a university to create a list of recommended book stockists, letting agents and restaurants and then help promote these to students through discount or loyalty schemes.

It sounds like the company has ambitious plans, but will they be successful. Will Yell be able to entice online accountants away from established software dealerships or cloud computing systems?

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