Yellow Page Ads: How to Maximize Your Yellow Page ROI

Phone Book Tunnel

So, you’ve been running a Yellow Page ad for several years and it’s not generating the business it used to. Is it the size of the ad? The colors or lack of colors? Is the design too busy or too plain? How do you get more ROI (return on investment) for your Yellow Pages ad?

Cut it in half.

That’s right; when the Yellow Pages rep comes knocking this year cut your ad spending in half. The reason is that no one uses the Yellow Pages any more. The only time I use the Yellow Pages is if I see a bug infestation in my house. To call an exterminator? No, to crush the little buggers under that 10lb, yellow-stained block of dead trees they send me every year without asking.

OK, I hear you: you’re in a business where people still use the Yellow Pages…like you repair fax machines or you manufacture AOL install disks. That’s why I suggest not stopping your ad spending all together, but rather cutting it in half. If you didn’t know this, the Yellow Pages has a service where they’ll set you up with a special 800 number that appears only in the phone book…that way you can measure how many leads actually come from the book.

So, what do you do with your new found cash? Start putting some of it towards your online marketing budget instead, and measure that. With the money you save you could hire a copywriter to create a new, keyword-rich blog post once a week.

At the end of a year of your Yellow Page ad you need to renew your ad buy. New books arrive and the old ones are recycled. (At our house the new ones are recycled, too, but that’s a different story.) Any benefit, any sales you got out of that ad are now done and in the past.

At the end of a year of SEO copywriting for your blog you’ve got 52 keyword-rich blog posts…52 unique opportunities to rank well at the search engines for the type of searches your best prospects are doing. At it doesn’t end at the end of the year…those blog posts will continue to bring in traffic for as long as you keep your blog running. In reviewing the statistics for this blog, one post I wrote back in October of 2008 continues to bring in hundreds of unique visitors a month. No 2008 Yellow Page ad is going to do that.

And yes, of course you could write your own blog posts and pocket the money, but maybe you’re too busy. After all, you’re running a business. Plus, I’m trying to compare apples to apples here to show you the benefit.

And yes, there are other web marketing options open to you besides business blogging. You could improve your website’s search engine visibility with some SEO, start an email newsletter, or engage in social media marketing and communication. Any of these options will take advantage of the well-established, well-documented trend of people leaving the Yellow Pages for the Internet and the mobile web.

Whatever you do with your marketing dollar, make sure you measure the results to see what’s really working. Make sure Google Analytics (or something similar) is installed on your site, have your receptionist or inside sales force ask how the prospect heard of you, use a special phone number and other tracking techniques. The important lesson here is to use the tools that your prospects and customers use. If they start using smoke signals, you better light a fire.

Rich Brooks
Web Marketing for Small Business

Photo credit: Coaly Bunny