December 15th, 2010
“They’re paying WHAT for Yellow Page ads?” was my reaction to discovering a client was spending more per month on Yellow Page ads than some staff salaries – adding up to 5 figures a year.
Small businesses work hard for their money, so here’s why they should take a serious look at their Yellow Page spending.
Small business marketing has changed forever. Marketing tools like the Yellow Pages that were critical 10 or 15 years ago are becoming obsolete fast because when people are ready to buy they go online. It’s not just easier and faster – thanks to web marketing you can learn virtually anything about a product or company in less than 5 minutes.
The Yellow Page industry knows this, and as a result we’ve seen 1) Phone books reborn as paid listing sites like YellowPages.com, 2) Sales techniques that are more aggressive and based in generating fear that customers won’t find you if you’re not “in the book”, and 3) Phone companies have quit printing residential white pages in many states.
If a third to half of consumers primarily consider an online search before making a purchase decision these days, my bet is this will double in a few years. Consumers in under-50 age demographics are more likely to use the internet, but even this is changing. The trend varies by region, and by micro-regions. HubSpot presenters shared from an article on searchengineland.com that Joe Walsh, CEO of Yellow Book, predicts the Coastal markets migrating away from the printed directory entirely in five years.
Ten years ago, a small business might have paid $1,800 a month for Yellow Page ads to reach a metropolitan area with a dozen different phone books. Today, that same business could spend a few hundred dollars and get a generous monthly PPC budget – or spend NOTHING and take advantage of fantastic free Google Local Business applications and organic SEO web marketing strategies.
Small business owners still paying for Yellow Page ads have some decisions to make.
$1,800 every month for a small paper ad whose strategy is to sit and wait for someone to see it.
Free or cheap search engine marketing that gets your website seen by thousands of consumers, communicates your brand’s value, plus offers a handy map and directions to your location.
When determining what you should spend on Yellow Page ads, ask these critical questions:
- Where does my industry lie within this online trend? You may want to eliminate or downsize your Yellow Page ads considerably.
- What will the same budget get me in web marketing? Chances are: A LOT, and with a much greater return on investment in leads and customer relationships.
Do you have a phone book? Mine has been invaluable as a platform for my computer monitor, the others have been recycled to save trees. Crack one open and look at the large, colorful ads for plumbers. Then, try to find a wedding planner.