Remember the Yellow Pages?

Yes, two or three different printers of these directories probably still drop these ridiculous directories off to your front porch each year. One such company in my area has become so lazy that they just dump a bundle of them off at our bank of mailboxes on the street and someone in the neighborhood ends up putting them in their recycling bin after they’ve sat out in the weather just a little bit too long, but before they turn into too much of a mess to at least become post consumer waste.

As a small business, sometimes it is difficult to decide where to spend your advertising dollars. Back in the day, having a name that was near the beginning of the alphabet and taking out just a little larger YP ad certainly gave businesses an advantage. Now, not so much. The same way that Craigslist has destroyed newspaper classified listings, Google has destroyed print directories.

Here are 9 commonly asked questions regarding advertising in the Yellow Pages, and why to never do so again:

1. Why is it so expensive to advertise in the Yellow Pages?

Let me take a stab at this one by starting with a brief history lesson. At one time, the Yellow Pages was the evil empire of the advertising world. They to set up a perfectly designed paradigm amongst small businesses everywhere that success in life and in businesses ran through that little yellow book they published. At the same time they established pricing structures that made it almost impossible for businesses to down-size their ads when they realized the costs were too high. Such made for a financially debilitating cycle for many business owners. Luckily for all of us, this little thing called The Internet’ was invented and businesses far and wide celebrated cost effective advertising, nimble platforms and marketing solutions that actually worked!

2. Should I pay for Yellow Pages?

Ummm, basically, NO, unless you’re the type that loves lighting dollar bills on fire and throwing the into the wind…. Listing your company name, number, and domain address is fine – you know, like the White Pages. Beyond that though, you’re going to pay ridiculous amounts of money that would be better spent almost anywhere else.

3. How dead are the Yellow Pages?

Can you say dead as Hitler?? I know, there are conspiracy theorists that think he is still alive, but no. The advertising model of yellow pages simply put doesn’t fit the mind of today’s consumer. Today’s consumer searches online before they do anything else. Their first step towards making a purchasing is essentially the first keys they hit on their smartphone, their computer at work or at home to begin the process of getting the information they need to make a decision or purchase.

4. Why should big companies advertise there?

Really they shouldn’t but big companies are known to waste thousands of adverting dollars freely and if they’re going to do that, then there is no way better than with the Yellow Pages. But seriously, if a big company is still heavily investing in Yellow Pages advertising in this day and age then the first thing they likely need to do is fire their marketing director.

5. How Life without YP has impacted my business

Life without wasting money is AWESOME.  At least, that’s my opinion. Since one of my clients stopped advertising in the Yellow Pages last year (other than their name, number, and website listing) they have saved an average of $1500 per month. Yes, $18,000 a year. Do you know how much effective web marketing can be done with $18K a year?? The possibilities are endless. This is also why I’m always shocked when businesses squawk over spending less than $10,000 a year on a website that can act as a lead generation machine and Content Management Systems when they’re essentially throwing money in the shredder with the crazy amounts they’re paying in YP ads.

6. Small businesses need to be in the Yellow Pages

And I should learn to do my own knee surgery on YouTube….Ouch, OK, maybe that’s probably not the best analogy, but the idea that a company has to be in the Yellow Pages to be found (or a success) is completely crazy. Yes, there are a few businesses where phone book listings can still very beneficial, like restaurant take out, but even they are now seeing more and more of their phone calls and orders being placed online (or through Uber Eats). So, Repeat after me…

Small businesses do NOT need to be in the Yellow Pages!!

7. Why should a business NOT buy a YP ad?

Like Paul Simon famously said – “There must be 50 ways to leave your lover”, but for the sake of time I’ll just give you my top 3

  1. Most of consumers in in the U.S. won’t even open the book in 2018. A majority will never even make it through the front door.
  2. The costs are a complete RIP-OFF and would be much better spent on a content-driven web presence.
  3. We are, for all intents and purposes, a global economy. The ideas of companies simply marketing towards one or two towns/cities is nearly extinct.

8. What if I can’t pay my Yellow Page ad bill?

Dude, I feel your pain. Really, I feel for all the small business owners out there that have been convinced that the “Yellow Pages” is still a viable marketing platform. The only advice I can give is that if I were your bookkeeper I’d put that Yellow Pages bill at the bottom of my bill pile.

9. My business moved do I still have to pay for my YP ad?

Unfortunately, you know the answer to this is “Yes”. Just think, if this business’ marketing was all internet based, they could make the necessary changes at ZERO COST. Instead, they’re stuck paying for words on a yellow sheet of paper that are sending customers to the wrong address. Well, I guess the bright side is that nobody is really looking for them there anyway….OOOH – That hurts.

Well, you know how I feel about YP advertising. Please comment if you have thoughts about this subject.

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