A question every local business owner asks themselves each year…Should I continue to invest in the Yellow Pages?
Short answer yes, but let me explain.
There are a lot of marketing and advertising companies that may disagree but there is still value in the yellow page book. The book has changed over the years, remember 20 years ago? The book was about 3 inches wide, half of the entire book was the “yellow pages”, look at is now, barely half the size and not nearly as many “yellow pages” as there once was. Let’s explore the evolution of the yellow pages in a pre & post search engine era that will simplify how the book was and is used today.
Before the common search engine such as Yahoo, Bing and Google.
Before the search engines, other than the newspaper, the main resource for looking for local businesses and services was through the yellow page book. This was the hay day of the yellow page industry where you could say they were “printing money”. If you were a local business, you had to be in there to make yourself known. The book was used regularly. The bigger your ad, the more you were noticed. It was about size of ad and placement in the book. The book was used the same way we use the search engines today, the closer you are to the front of the category, the better chance you had to get a call.
You can remember the full page color ads, page after page of them.
After the common search engine.
In present day, less and less consumers use the book to look for a product or service, they are using the book as a directory. We see consumers go to the book when they need to find a phone number of a business they already have in mind. If that business doesn’t have what they need, they may use it to look for another businesses phone number but the reason they picked it up was because of a business they are already familiar with.
Today consumers look to the search engines to find local businesses, services and products. As a society we have a need for instant gratification, thus using a search engine gives us the immediate information we desire with little effort on our part. The ease of use Google has pioneered has take away from the power of the yellow page book. Consumers are using Google just as they used the yellow pages 20 years ago, to find information on a business. The search engine also has one major advantage over the yellow page book, the ability to explore a businesses products and services through a website without having to call.
Is the book right for you?
As I mentioned the yellow page book is and can be a valuable resource but that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Look at the demographic of your customers. Younger or older? If younger, you’re wasting your money. If older, it’s still viable. Your industry also will play a role in this as well. If you’re an electrician, plumber, tree service…a service that is needed in an emergency, people may turn to the yellow pages if they can’t quickly get to their computer or online. All this being said, you don’t need the full page ad, half page ad or quarter page ad. These ads are diverting valuable marketing dollars that could produce a better ROI somewhere else. If you see that there is value for your business in the yellow page book, look to an inline ad. You will still have a presence, but saving a lot of money at the same time.