Will the Internet Destroy the Yellow Pages?

If you own a local business (meaning that your business primarily services a local market), then you probably already advertise in your local phone book (or at least you’ve been approached by your local Yellow Pages company to advertise with them). The question at the forefront of many business owner’s minds today is this, “Should I keep advertising in the phone book even though many of my customers don’t use it any more?” Or, perhaps you’re just wondering if the Internet is going to eliminate the phone book altogether.

Well, the answer to that question is this—yes, the Internet is going to eliminate the printed phone directory as we have it today. However, it’s not going to happen any time in the immediate future.

Before you cancel your Yellow Pages advertising contract, or decide not to advertise in the phone book, consider the following:

The Phone Book Works Best for Local Service Based Businesses

If you sell a product or service that is available for purchase online like: books, clothes, electronics, software, or any other retail product, then you are definitely wasting your money advertising in the phone book. However, local service-based businesses, especially professional services and contracting services are still seeing great results in the Yellow Pages. These are headings like: contractors, physicians, dentists, plumbers, attorneys, auto repair, etc.

In short, if you can’t typically buy your product or service online, or if your product or service necessitates an onsite visit (in-person) with your customers, then the Yellow Pages is still an important advertising medium for your business.

Phone Book Users Are Older and Have More Money

Think about who it is that uses the phone book today—they are adults who are usually over 45 to 65 years old who own their own homes. Many of them are empty-nesters and they typically have more discretionary income than young couples who are either renting or who have just purchased their first home and have very little discretionary income. The younger prospects are more likely to be addicted to the internet, and they search Google for anything and everything they want. However, while it is true that this younger prospect might be more apt to find you online, they will typically be less likely to pay premium rates for top-notch professional services.

On the other hand, an older couple who owns their own home, as already mentioned, will be much more likely to spend thousands on: new windows, a new fence, plumbing, electrical work, etc., and they are much less likely to use Google to find a company to do business with. Think about it—they’ve been using the phone book for over 20 years when they need to find a vendor, they’re going to continue to use this “trusty old tool.” Hey, old habits die hard.

If you’re a service-based local business and you eliminate your presence in the phone book, you may very well be eliminating your chance to capture your best prospects.

Yellow Pages Prospects Are Ready to Buy Now

The Yellow Pages has always been a relatively consistent and effective form of advertising because people who use it are usually in the market to buy what you sell immediately. Think about it—people don’t pick up the phone book until they have a need or desire to buy what you sell. This is why it has worked so well in the past. These prospects are what we call the “low-hanging fruit.” They are the ones that are the easiest to pick up right now, because they are in the market NOW and want your product or service immediately. Abandoning the Yellow Pages means that you will essentially send these prospective customers to your competitors front door.

The Problem with the Yellow Pages

The reason why most local businesses don’t have more success with the Yellow Pages is because, by design, all of your competitors are in the exact same place as you are and you are all saying the same thing. Whether you’re in the Yellow Pages right now or not, I challenge you to open up the phone book, turn to any heading (preferably your heading) and look at all the ads—they all say the same thing! Guaranteed. Every ad says basically the same thing as the other ads in the same heading. They say things like:

  • Residential and Commercial
  • Highest Quality
  • Best Service
  • Honest and Ethical
  • Been in Business 30 years
  • Get’s the Job Done Right the First Time

Check for yourself—all ads in the phone book are basically the same as the others in the same heading which forces the prospects to call everybody up and ask how much you charge. If you earn their business, it will typically be the result of chance, luck, or some other detail involved in each individual sales process that caused the prospect to choose you (e.g. they had heard of you before, you had a bigger ad, they needed someone now and you were the only one who picked up the phone, etc.)

So the real problem is not with the Yellow Pages as an advertising medium—the problem is with the content of the advertisements themselves. If you want to succeed in the Yellow Pages, you have to fix the problem with your stale, outdated ad copy (i.e. the message that constitutes the content of the advertisement itself), and then support this ad with other marketing tools.

Power Marketing Consultants is the only marketing agency that has created a complete and cohesive marketing program to ensure that you dominate in the Yellow Pages and that fixes the problem described here for you. To learn how we do this, visit this page: Yellow Pages Domination.