For some, not all mind you, directory advertising, the kind the Yellow Pages sells, is still a decent place to advertise.
The upside to this medium is that when somebody picks up an offline directory they are probably looking to buy something right now. Of course the downside is that they must wade through all of your competitors to find your ad.
I put the yellow pages in the category of “consider it as part of the mix” for certain types of businesses. Directory ads can be an effective spend for businesses that provide home services (electrician, plumber), consumer (dry cleaner, restaurant, gifts, flowers) or professional services (tax preparation, mortgage, legal.)
It is, however, a decreasingly effective medium for reaching anyone under 30. I often joke that if I put a yellow pages down in front of my teenage daughters they would want to know where the on switch is.
If you’re one of those kinds of businesses, one that is proven to derive lots of leads from the yellow pages, and you find yourself thinking, “the yellow pages is a waste for me,” then consider that you might simply be running ads that are waste for you.
99.99% of all directory ads do nothing but show how you are just like your competitors and that if a prospect will simply dial your very large phone number you will come on down and sell them something. I’ve watched propects use the yellow pages and most simply call up a few of the advertisers based on how pretty their ad is – of course the first question is always “how much.”
If you determine that it might make sense for you to advertise in offline directories then you must make your ad and your approach unique. The best way to do this is to make your ad a direct response ad. Don’t waste your space with your phone number and logo – instead, make the reader an offer of some valuable information. Invite them to come get your free report “25 little known ways to slash your taxes” or “Home repair tips your plumber hopes your never learn.” By giving your readers an attention getting offer you can stand out and start differentiating your business based on something other than price.
Now when someone responds to your ad you are in the business of educating them on how you have a unique approach to business. This type of relationship building is how you change the entire lead generation and lead conversion landscape. Don’t just get a phone call, get permission to demonstrate why you charge a premium.
A final word of advice – test your directory ad before you place it. Run several different versions of ads with different headlines and offers in free or low cost publications that your target market reads and then place the yellow pages ad, an ad you can’t change for an entire year, based on your test results.