I may take some heat for this post, but it should be fun anyway:
Not too long ago, I was on my way home when I saw something all over the road. It took me a little while to make out what it was. Scattered everywhere were the recently published and delivered yellow page books. And not only were there yellow page books in the road, but they were also in the ditch, and those books in the ditch had been overwhelmed with weeds. I just started laughing.
I raced home and got my oldest daughter and our camera, and we returned to capture this all on film. Well, digital film. In no way did we set this up. We did not touch or move any of the books – we took pictures as they were.
The reason I started laughing was I had just finished arguing with a yellow page ad rep about how the effectiveness of YP is drastically falling – and of course, they had disagreed with me. But when you need to be right to put food on the table, you tend to ignore the facts. We all do to some degree.
Now do not get me wrong, I am not going to bash YP – they still have their place in a well-thought out marketing budget. In the past, for many services companies, it would be the majority of the marketing budget and it would return a good ROI. However, the habits of the consumer have changed drastically along with the effectiveness of the YP.
The key is to have an integrated marketing plan.
The problem is that the YP reps still want to get your entire budget, they continue to use hard core sales tactics, and they try to scare the business owner into bigger and bigger ads. You know the drill – if you reduce your ad “You will lose your place and get fewer calls,” right? So I guess those poor saps the reps sold to be in the back of the book are out of luck. (I wonder what they tell those business owners?)
Just recently, Seattle became the first city to require phone book companies to provide an opt–out option: Article Link
It is a nasty fight and is not over, the Local Search Association (formally the Yellow Page Association – hum why did they change their name?) is suing the city and is fighting back: Article Link
I for one have not found any business in an YP book for at least 5 years.
What about you? Do you use the yellow pages? If so what do you look for in the yellow pages?
The only thing I hear from clients and other business owners is the yellow pages are just not producing the calls they use to. Many companies have pulled out entirely and have redirected the marketing budget to where the customers are now – online. Now, I do not believe you should completely pull out. There are many factors to consider: location, age of target market, education level of target market, and others. But one thing is true – yellow pages are losing ground, just like all the others in print media. We are living in a digital world, and it will only move faster and faster in that direction.
Let me know your thoughts…