To most companies, advertising in Yellow Pages is the unshakeable cornerstone of their annual marketing spend and they would no more think of cancelling it than they would hire David Brent as office manager.
Surely Yellow Pages is established, recognised everywhere and enjoys strong distribution. It’s expensive, but is there any alternative?
A moderately sized quarter of half page ad is looking at 3 -5K a year. A whole page? That can be anything from 5K to over 8K for the year. There’s no negotiation; take it or leave it - and that’s with the regulators on their back capping and indeed cutting rates by 3.4%.
How surprising is it that more and more of my clients are cutting back expenditure on Yellow Pages?
Not surprising at all really. If you think about it, search is not new and it has played a major part in marketing activity for decades in the form of phone books and directories. Effective search engine marketing simply takes this a giant step further, unlocking as is does the incredible introductory potential the web medium provides between supplier and consumer to connect and do business.
This trend is reflected in Yellow Pages own market analysis, which shows a downward trend in client retention from 78% to 75% year on year. Interestingly, it is newer customers who are leaving.
Yellow Pages ads are viewed by people who have all ready made a decision to buy. Don't emphasise why your product or service is needed but rather why it should be obtained from you. Consumers need and want two types of information from Yellow Pages adverts.
Firstly, they need to know why they should purchase from one company and not another.
Secondly, they need information that facilitates making their purchase ie they need to know how to make the purchase or have a call to action.
If you really focus and see things through your customers eyes then your Yellow Pages ad copy should virtually write itself.
The use of colour and how Yellow Pages charge for it is pretty unbelievable.
The book is now printed on white paper (think about it you can't have white ink)
Yellow Pages charge more for white in your adverts - 40% in fact.
But, Yellow Pages actually have to take an extra step to print a yellow coloured ad ie they overlay white paper with a yellow ink but this is cheaper than a white ad.
Our surveys show that colour is not the most important factor in selecting an advert. In fact, it is well down the list.
Yellow Pages sales reps often argue:
"It'll only cost you £800 a year to move up to the next largest ad size and ad colour. Don't you believe that the increased sales you'd obtain would more than offset that expense?"
This is a bad argument for a number of reasons....
It assumes that the business generated by your original ad pays for itself
It assumes that you make a 100% profit on each sale (nice work if you can get it)
It assumes that the use of £800 for additional Yellow Pages advertising would generate more business than would the use of the same £800 in another media
Nonetheless I see many of my clients putting all their eggs in one "Yellow Pages" basket without obtaining effective proof that their adverts are actually working.
The secret is to monitor the response to each and every advert you place.
If you can't measure it you can't manage it.
I know from my experience as a former Yellow Pages sales rep that one had to continually create a false sense of urgency. Typically Yellow Pages reps only work two directories ie they are in each area for six months at a time. The reps are paid a commission on signed orders so it's no surprise they go in for the kill.