If you are still devoting significant dollars to the yellow pages, you might want to reconsider your budget. The printed yellow page books are definitely on the way out.
The younger buyer first looks to Google, Yahoo, or MSN search engines on the internet even when looking to buy local services. Having grown up with laptops, this is just second nature to them since they are “native PC users”. The internet allows buyers to comparison shop easily and faster. The advent of the internet on cell phones and smart phones is opening up a whole new arena for search.
The older buyer may still go the yellow pages as will other demographic groups that are slow to do business on the internet. Lower income and minority groups may also lag behind the younger buyer; the printed yellow pages may be fine for them now, but not for long.
A good use of your advertising dollar would be to make sure that your business is included in search engine data bases. Even if you don’t have a website, make sure you are listed on the appropriate web directories; list your business name, services offered, 800 number, address, etc.
I do recommend that you have a website, since most people doing a search will want to next visit your website after they have identified your firm in a search. You might want to go a search on yourself or your company. See if you can find yourself. If you don’t turn up in the first two pages of text search data, you are in trouble; most web searches don’t go to the third page. See the next chapter on getting listed in Google, Yahoo and MSN.
If you want to use the yellow pages most effectively, plan on spending significant money. Research studies have shown that bigger ads get more calls. Check and see what size ad your direct competitors use and then jump up to the next size or larger. Also, like in all print advertising, color demands attention and will help your ad response rate.
If you are a local business, be sure to emphasize your location. Many buyers prefer to work with a local business. I am personally drawn to an advertisement that portrays the business as “owner operated”; I like doing business with small firms that have a pride of ownership. Be sure to include website address in the advertisement.
Things are changing. The decades-long tradition of the printed yellow pages is changing. Decrease your spending in this category now and move the budget dollars to other advertising and promotional categories such as your website.
John Bradley Jackson
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Please visit my website at www.firstbestordifferent.com