Response rates to Yellow Page advertising are declining
There's no getting around it, traditional Yellow Pages are in trouble. Fewer people use them every year. Even the best- pulling ad in the section isn't getting the number of callers or sales it used to. At the same time, the monthly cost to maintain your same-size directory ad keeps going up.
Simply tinkering with ad size (or options like color) can't compensate for the adverse developments. Declining usage impacts each directory category differently. Some (like contractors and lawyers) are declining more steeply than others. Emergency service providers (tow trucks, plumbers) are holding their own. While categories like cell phones and lawn furniture are growing rapidly, with increased consumer demand.
Advertising only in the Yellow Pages is no longer a safe bet
- Over half of all customers go to the Internet first to find product information and sources - even if they intend to spend their money locally
- People increasingly trust the Internet as a source of information about major purchases (and has overtaken the newspaper for used car sales)
- Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) are kept up to date (unlike print directories) and can be searched from anywhere - their usage is growing 25% a year
- Local Search lets search engines (like Google) include small, local businesses in their search results (even without them having a website) - over 25% of all search queries request Local Search results
- A large percentage of young adults or business buyers never consult the Yellow Page directory at all - and they control an expanding chunk of dollars spent
Rethink the role Yellow Page advertising plays for your enterprise
Take a serious look at how much you rely on the Yellow Page directory to bring new business. Are most or all of your promotional dollars spent there? Do your expectations match the number and kinds of customers your ad actually brings you?
Your strategy needs to take consider all the ways you attract new customers. Recognize changed customer preferences and buying habits for your specific type of operation. The issue isn't whether or not to advertise in the Yellow Pages. If you've been there you should continue. But switch some of those dollars into marketing methods that connect with buyers who won't look for you there.
Follow these steps, with them all sending a clear, consistent message
- Get listed in Internet Yellow Pages (IYP); there are many of them; some are free
- Make sure your website provides the information search engines require for Local Search. Learn how to do that at www.yellowpagesage.com/localsearch.html
- Beef up your website with the information customers look for (or join a portal of local businesses)
- Submit articles about your enterprise online; find extensive assistance at http://www.promotewitharticles.com
Keep track of what's delivering new business. Commit to asking every new customer and caller how they found you. That's the only way to know which method is winning; or where to shift emphasis and money for the next year.
Pursue ways to increase business from your existing customers
The value of Yellow Page advertising is mainly to attract new customers. People who know you already are more likely to find your number in the business white (alphabetical) listings. Start working harder to strengthen those relationships so they stay loyal. Efforts spent to serve them better (or to get referrals from them) does more for profits than constantly chasing new customers can.
Get started well BEFORE the directory deadline
Some day soon it's time to renew your directory listing for another year. Let this be the year that you've figured out your strategy well in advance. Make you new strategy a front-burner, squeeky-wheel priority. Yellow Page Smarts, http://www.yellowpagesage.com/smarts.html explains how to make your Yellow Page ad and Internet marketing support each together effectively.
If your next directory deadline hasn't come yet, there's still time to change your ad for next year (like add your website address address - a study found 60% of directory users only call Yellow Page ads with a website!). If you're already committed, spend the next year getting the rest of your strategy in place. Your timely efforts can compensate for the decline in Yellow Page advertising's effectiveness. And you won't be caught off guard.
© 2004, Lynella Grant
--Dr. Lynella Grant Author, Yellow Page Smarts, Make more money from your Directory ad in tandem with your Web site. Get a YP ad critique. 719-395-9450 mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Free YP resources at http://www.yellowpagesage.com