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Is Radio Better Than Yellow Pages?

 From Killian & Company

As many retailers have found out, The Yellow Pages are incredibly expensive, and few people under 60 use them. Many marketers say that when you invest in Yellow Pages ads, you’re setting fire to money.  

Even Wall Street acknowledges that the days of printed directories like Yellow pages are numbered. The Wall Street Journal reports that media-research firm Borrell Associates says advertising in US print directories is expected to fall 39% over the next four years - the steepest projected decline across all local-media categories. 

Over half of all customers go to the Internet first to find product information and sources. Even if they intend to spend their money locally. 

A large percentage of young adults or business buyers never consult the Yellow Page directory at all. And they control an expanding chunk of dollars spent. 

Print technology like newspaper and Yellow Pages is quickly becoming obsolete. They also take millions of dollars away from more cost-effective marketing tools, while delivering less every year. There are better uses for your budget, especially if you market goods and services to people who are under 60 years of age. 

It used to be that you would let your fingers do the walking. But the only people who continue to do this are the ones who got into that habit decades ago. Google and Yahoo, to cite two websites, offer vastly more information, from more sources, more quickly. Also, it's more accurate because book accuracy begins to decay the moment it comes off the printing press.

Look at your brand message: how can you best tell your story? If your business depends on "sales", and other special offers through the year, the Yellow Pages are not geared to do this. Radio, television or print ads, are probably your best bet. 

One of the things that makes Yellow Pages so expensive is that you cannot target your dollars. Unlike broadcast media, you have to buy every demographic, and can't target your media. If your retail store targets women 18-34, your dollars are buying lots of waste. 

So, why would you want to spend a king’s ransom on Yellow Page display ads? Those rectangles of static, limited information will be surrounded by every competitor you have. You’ve just spent big money only to set off a round of comparison-shopping phone calls. If you’re not the first one called, that can’t close the sale, then you’re the second or third called, and you have to be the low-price spread. It’s a lose-lose situation. 

The first flaw is the dilemma: you’re spending money to be compared to every competitor, right there on the same page. It’s impossible to measure but easy to imagine how many sales you lost that way, greatly reducing your ROBI (Return On Bad Investment). Let's get real: is your YP ad so magnetic that you will capture a reader's eyes totally? So powerful she won't even look at the ad two inches to the left? 

The second flaw? Too many sales are attributed to Yellow Pages: Prospect A has seen your bus sides, heard your radio spots, and decides to call. If he looks up your phone number, the answer to “where did you hear about us?” will often be misattributed to that thing sitting in front of him. 

Look at your numbers. If you're a YP advertiser, you're probably seeing declines from year to year, a continuing trend. The total number of YP users will decline, because, every year a portion of them will leave the market. 

The phonebook requires an immediate cash outlay for the year, and is tough to budget for many businesses.

You cannot effect a change on your printed ad at anytime. This could be a huge disadvantage for some businesses. 

Advertisements on the Yellow pages look similar; it will cost you more to look different and unique. 

If you want your ads to appear in all states or cities, you have to advertise in different phonebooks – imagine how much it would cost.

It's very expensive.Regardless of the number of people actually using the phonebook, which continues to decline, you are still paying the same advertising cost.

Overpriced, under performing, and outdated. You should keep a simple line listing for older people who need to look up your phone number, but quit display ads cold turkey. Start now, because it will take some time to recapture and redeploy those budgets.

Consider anyone who says “oh, our company has always used the Yellow Pages” as a person failing to adapt to changing times. That’s understandable, actually, because none of this would have been true ten years ago. Even five years ago, before high-speed connectivity got so widespread, it was not a slam dunk. Many of the clients we speak to admit their YP results are in year-to-year decline. 

Are there exceptions? Of course. If you’re a locksmith, or a computer repair shop, you must do some advertising there. Likewise, if you’re marketing to the elderly or to the poor (credit furniture, payday loans, monthly-pay car insurance, bankruptcy counseling), the Yellow Pages might be cost-effective.  

Your best media strategy? Assuming you’re not one of those rare exceptions, is to take a close look at your Yellow Page budget, and see where it can be more effective in your local market. 

One thing is fairly straightforward and immediate: if you’re spending more than the very minimum on YP, it may be time to kick the habit. 



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