Optimize My Brand

Strategy, tactics, ideas and tips from Creative Company.

Die yellow pages die!

the end of phone booksMore books? Really?

It’s about that time of year again, when the yellow page sales people start knocking on doors. Occasionally we get a client who asks us to produce an ad for them. And once again, I become infuriated. Why? There are so many reasons …

  • There are too many different books and choices, how does a business owner or manager decide?
  • Whether the ad is working or not, the business still pays for it, month after month. At least in the newspaper you can pull an ad that’s not working.
  • The sales tactics are shady … everything from charging more to “print white” in the ad (hello, the paper is white … they’re printing the yellow!) to intimidating business owners by comparing ad size with the competition, so they “had better keep up”
  • And … add up the cost of the month over month ad for a year … Really?
  • Now there are online directories to supplement the books … but wait, how many times have you used online yellow pages instead of  just Googling what you’re looking for?

From a marketing point of view …

are the yellow page books the best choice to reach your audiences? Most likely not.

Most people are searching for companies online, from their desks or their smartphones. Businesses that reach visitors new to an area (restaurants, attractions) might see value when the oversized phone book is used in hotel rooms. But is that worth the cost? And what else is available?

Consider … optimize a website to be easily found when searched. Use trucks to create roving billboards (practically free!). Ensure signing for local establishments is visible and enticing. Inbound marketing tactics will provide what searchers are looking for.

Going beyond marketing … what about all of that paper? What about the costs?

Cities are fighting back against the waste

According to an article on Earth911:

  • Each year, 555 million phone books are distributed in the U.S., according to the Yellow Pages Association.
  • Seattle introduced the first opt-in proposal, in contrast to the the Yellow Pages Association’s recently launched opt-out website.
  • San Francisco is saying no to the Yellow Pages. Under a proposal recently introduced … publishers would be prohibited from distributing the books, unless individuals and businesses provide prior consent.
  • … cities cite the cost of disposing and recycling the unwanted books — an estimated $63 million each year for local governments, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
  • … no more abandoned piles in elevator lobbies and by doorsteps, potentially cutting down on about 5 million pounds of paper waste for the San Francisco area.

no more yellow pagesJust as payphones have all but disappeared, yellow page books should be provided only where they’re essential or requested.

Good-bye thud book. Your time is over. We don’t want you any more. Stop calling to talk about advertising. Stop dropping onto doorsteps uninvited. Really.

More perspective … focusing on your audiences

Not using the yellow pages is first about understanding your audiences, where they are, where they seek information and how they respond. We’ve posted more content about reaching your audiences where they choose to engage … read further:

About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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