Quick poll. When was the last time you opened a phonebook or used the Yellow Pages? I mean a real, physical phonebook. Don’t remember? Well, I bet you’re not alone.
And yet, in my experience as a digital marketer, I can tell you what the biggest advertising pain for many small businesses is. It’s that they are stuck in the old, intimidated by the new.
And they still use Yellow Pages.
Granted, some small businesses are still living in the past. They have no website, no social media, and no intention of entering the digital age with their business. This article is NOT directed at those businesses. Word of mouth and the physical Yellow Pages ads they buy are probably all they want or need.
This article IS for those businesses seeking more customers through the media (Hint: mostly smartphones!) that customers use.
Ever heard the term “sinking ship”? Well, based on data, the Yellow Pages’ ship should have sunk many years ago. However, clever as can be, that same company has switched its marketing tactics, promising small businesses Google success and other marketing promises that they cannot possibly deliver on.
According to the Consumer Affairs site, the Yellow Pages score quite low in customer satisfaction. In fact, review after review after review shows the same story that small businesses deal with when agreeing to use Yellow Pages as their main marketing firm: the Yellow Pages just doesn’t work.
In my dealings with small businesses in the area, I have received “no” or “maybe in the future” answers from potential clients for my Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing capabilities because of the Yellow Pages. All of those businesses have expressed the same pain. Basically, business owners tell me, “I’m locked into a contract with the Yellow Pages, so I can’t afford any other marketing right now.”
When I press them about how well the Yellow Pages works for them, I also get the same answer. “Not very well.”
Although not all marketing packages through the Yellow Pages are the same, there are some things that are evident. Here are 3 reasons why it’s time to leave the Yellow Pages in the past where it belongs.
1. The cost for small business is excessive compared to other forms of marketing.
If you think you’re getting your advertising money’s worth with the Yellow Pages, think again. In fact, you are paying almost double the cost of the simpler online services they use.
For example, the average advertising cost for ONE customer to call from the Yellow Pages’ created phone number is about $10 per call. For service businesses, like electricians, that cost per call may be worth the cost if other services in that industry only use the Yellow Pages to generate business.
However, for businesses looking to gain an edge on their competition and get more of the right calls coming in, putting money into the Yellow Pages could have been used in other ways. For example, purchasing cost-per-click services directly from Google. Or, boosting posts on Facebook or other social media accounts.
Likewise, a business with a website and a few more bucks invested into actual digital marketing campaigns will reap a lot more reward than the $10 per call costs of the Yellow Pages.
Although I could not find definitive rates on Yellow Pages pay-per-click advertising, I do know this: a single keyword is targeted for the paid advertisement. However, a legit Search Engine Optimization plan can target many more keywords and make them feasible for your website or paid advertising campaigns.
That leads to the second reason to shrug off advertising in the Yellow Pages . . .
2. In the age of smartphones, the Yellow Pages have become redundant.
The initial poll question was not meant to be rhetorical. However, it was made to make you think about how inefficient the Yellow Pages is today. Yes, the Yellow Pages has moved much of its marketing plan away from the physical to the digital, but at what benefit? Still, its marketing plan is the same as the old style:
- Your small business purchases an ad.
- People look up that business through the Yellow Pages and contacts a business, maybe yours.
- You either can or cannot help that customer.
Sprinkle in a little of the new advertising plans, and you can find out when a customer called through the Yellow Pages because they track data. In fact, not only do customers have access to your actual business phone number, but Yellow Pages will provide two or more tracking numbers based on your advertisement plan.
Of course, those numbers forward automatically to your real business phone number, so it makes no difference. Well, except for the approximate cost of $10 per call through the Yellow Pages-provided number. Does that make sense? Of course not. It’s just another way that the Yellow Pages has become redundant in its own marketing plan, costing small businesses hundreds of more dollars per year than they should when those businesses could have invested their marketing budget into digital marketing and reaped more benefits.
Which leads to the third reason why the Yellow Pages is not good for your small business . . .
3. It hurts your business’s SEO. The advertisement targets one specific keyword group. And it creates a second web page.
Here’s one more way where I discovered the Yellow Pages digital plan is working contrary to its promises. Stop me if you’ve heard this one from their marketing salespeople:
“We can make you #1 on Google.”
Well, the Yellow Pages could possibly do that, but as many Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts would attest, it is IMPOSSIBLE to promise a #1 ranking on Google. Well, unless that promise is a false one. You know, a lie.
Yellow Pages is actually hurting businesses that already have a website for ranking higher in multiple ways. For one, Yellow Pages will create a mock website for your business. This website will include pertinent information about your business, like your business location and the Yellow Pages-provided business number used for tracking data.
That’s great! Except it’s not! What that mock website does is to cut into your SEO opportunities, actually HURTING your business’s rankings on Google and other search engines. That’s because you have TWO business websites. And since those websites have some identical information, like contacts and company mission statements, Google and other search engines might be penalizing your business’s website.
How can the Yellow Pages deliver on its promises to make you “#1 on Google” when its own SEO plan is counterproductive? Answer: it can’t!
There is a lot more evidence out there why the Yellow Pages is just as relevant as rotary phones and VCR players. The fact is that Yellow Pages survives on the name alone from a time when it was a useful and necessary advertising option.
These days it just means that small businesses are throwing away their advertising bucks. They could have been using that same money to build a mobile-friendly website with the proper search engine optimization and then connecting that to a useful social media account that gets actual results, not promised ones.
So smart small businesses in the 21st century should ditch the Yellow Pages now. Get off that sunken ship.read more