Are the yellow pages dead? Are they still a good value for your company? Forbes published a short study about it that you can read here:
Should Small Businesses Still Book Yellow Page Ads?
One of the most agonizing marketing decisions a small retail business must make is whether to include printed Yellow Page ads in their plan and budget. This is a big decision because:
You commit for a full year
They are expensive, especially in relation to other options like paid search using Google or other SEM vendors
You too often fail to closely track leads generated by your marketing initiatives, so when the Yellow Page contract is up you have the same subjective decision to make all over again
Set it and forget it no longer as valuable
In the past, the Yellow Pages were the only reliable resource for retail businesses seeking a local audience. After word-of-mouth, consumers relied heavily on the Yellow Pages for services in a wide range of industries. And it took little work: You placed the ad, it ran for a year and you waited for the phone to ring.
Not so today. Multiple studies confirm that consumers report using the internet first (80% of the time) when they need a new product or service, and printed Yellow Pages only second or third (about 50% of the time.) And even if the consumer does reach for the printed Yellow Pages, your ad still has to stand out (size, graphics and color,) which ups the expense of being in the book. The convenience of “set it and forget it” is now trumped by the more labor intensive but productive SEM options.
How to measure success
Advertising in Yellow Pages, on or offline, is not a branding exercise. It is purely lead generation. So, it is not hard to understand what your own ROI is for this marketing initiative, or at the very least where your break-even point is for each campaign:
Cost of the campaign
Value of one new customer
Number of customers gained to break even
Number of leads needed to gain one new customer
Number of leads needed to break even
Number of leads needed to achieve 100% ROI
In this case, if a Yellow Page contract is $4,000 for the year, you need to generate 400 real leads to break even. That is more than one call a day from your Yellow Page ad, in this example. Compare this to other marketing options you have, and calculate their relative break-evens.
What should you do at this point?
If you think the Yellow Pages still have value for your business, make sure.
Immediately create a working system to track the sources of your business leads.
Include an offer exclusively for ad respondents, with a code for them to use when calling.
Include a dedicated phone number to make tracking easier.
If you have a website, create a special landing page solely for the ad (just as you would for any ad you run in any medium.)
Review your competitors’ ads. What are they doing to stand out? Which competitors have dropped out in the most recent issue? If you know them, ask them why.
Create a nice ad. For most people, 65% of the time spent looking at an ad is used to examine the image or photo, with the remaining 35% spent reading the text.
The Bottom Line
People (especially older demographics) do still reach for the printed Yellow Pages when they need a local business in a hurry. For instance, plumbers should think hard before they ditch their local phone books. Personal injury lawyers should also track their incoming leads closely before deciding to stop their ads. There are lots of examples of businesses that service folks with urgent needs who may benefit from staying in the books.
But, if your phone isn’t ringing or your dedicated landing page is not seeing traffic from your Yellow Page placements, stop investing in it, even if the YP rep is a close personal friend and a pillar down at the Chamber of Commerce. You don’t run a charity, and your business needs come first!
If you are looking for alternatives, let Louisville Marketing Labs show you how to climb to the top in Google rankings and get lots of leads.
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