11 Reasons Why Your Business Should NOT Advertise with Yellow Pages

by Marcus Sheridan

One of the most interesting facets of blogging comes with keyword research of one’s own website. For example, I was going over the different phrases searchers had used during these past 3 weeks to find The Sales Lion and found quite an interesting pattern in terms of small businesses and their concerns regarding Yellow Pages. In fact, I think the following statements/questions are perfectly symbolic of the debate that is raging amongst thousands of small businesses all over the country trying to spend their advertising dollars wisely.

So in an effort to prevent any more business owners from using their hard-earned bucks on dead-end advertising, here are 11 of YOUR most interesting questions/thoughts (only exact search phrases have been used), and my responses:

1. Why so expensive to place verizon yellow page ads in books?

Let me take a gander at this one by giving a short history lesson. At one time, the Verizon Yellow Pages was the evil empire of the advertising world. They managed to set up a paradigm amongst small businesses everywhere that success in life and in businesses ran through that little yellow book of theirs. They also established pricing structures that made it very difficult for business owners to down-size their ads when they realized the costs were too high. Such made for a financially debilitating cycle for many business owners. Luckily for all though, this little thing called ‘The Internet’ was invented and businesses far and wide celebrated cost effective advertising and marketing solutions that actually worked….Yeeee Hawwww!

2. Should I pay for yellow pages?

Uhhm, in a nutshell, NO, unless you’re the type that loves flinging dollar bills off of country bridges…. Listing your company name, number, and domain address is fine. Beyond that though, you’re going to pay ridiculous amounts of money that could be better spent elsewhere.

3. How dead is yellow page books?

Yellow Page Advertising

Question: What does this guy and the Yellow Pages have in common?

Can you say dead as Elvis?? In fact, I wrote an article about this recently explaining how the advertising model of yellow pages simply doesn’t fit the mind of today’s consumer. Today’s consumer searches online before they do anything else. Their first step towards making a purchasing is essentially the first keys they hit on their computers at work or at home to begin the information gathering process.

Although there are certainly a few that would disagree with my Elvis analogy, it’s safe to say that Yellow Pages, at least the ‘book’ form, won’t be around in a few more years as businesses get smarter and smarter with their advertising dollars

4. Why should big companies advertise in yellow pages?

Because big companies are well-known to waste thousands of adverting dollars freely and if they’re going to do that, then there is no way better than with the Yellow Pages. :-) But seriously, if a big company is still heavily investing in Yellow Pages advertising in this day and age then they likely need to fire their head of marketing.

5. Life without yellow pages my business

Life without wasting money is AWESOME.  At least, that’s my opinion. Since my company stopped advertising in the Yellow Pages last year (other than our name, number, and website listing) we have saved an average of $2,000 per month. For all math gurus, that $24,000 a year. Do you know how much killer web marketing can be done with $24,000 a year?? Holy cow, the possibilities are through the roof. This is also why I’m always shocked when businesses squawk over spending less than $10,000 a year on a lead generation machine and Content Management System like Hubspot when they’re essentially burning money in the campfire with the crazy amounts they’re paying in YP advertising.

6. Small businesses need to be in the yellow pages.

And I need to saw my ankle off with a spoon….Ouch, OK, maybe that’s not the best analogy, but the idea that a company has to be in the Yellow Pages to be successful is absolutely absurd. Yes, there are a few businesses where phone book listings are still very beneficial, like pizza delivery companies, but even they are now seeing more and more of their phone calls and orders being placed online. So, let’s all say it together:

Small businesses do NOT need to be in the Yellow Pages!!

7. Yellow pages waste of money 2010

And 2011, 2012, 2013…….

8. My business moved do I have to pay my yellow pages ad?

This search phrase gave me a nice snicker. Just think, if this person’s marketing was all internet based, he could make the necessary changes at NO COST. Instead, he’s stuck paying for words on a yellow sheet of paper that are sending customers to the wrong address. OUCH.

9. Why a business should not buy a yellow pages ad?

Boy could I list about 50 reasons for this one, but we’ll just give 4 for the sake of time:

  1. The majority of consumers in our country won’t even crack the book open in 2010.
  2. The costs are an utter RIP-OFF and would be much better spent on a content-driven web presence.
  3. The ROI stinks.
  4. We are, for all intents and purposes, a global economy. The ideas of companies simply marketing towards one or two towns/cities is going the way of the dinosaur.

10. What if I can’t pay my yellow page ad?

Man, I feel for you. Heck, I feel for all the small business owners out there that have been swooned into thinking the Yellow Pages is still a viable marketing platform. But to answer your question, if I were your accountant I’d just go ahead and put the Yellow Pages at the back of my ‘To-Pay’ list. ;-)

11. Death to yellow pages

Ahhh, I like this phrase. I’m not sure if the person that typed it in was asking a question or if they were making a toast. So if they were asking a question, please refer back to #3. If the person was making a toast, then I’m raising my glass to that! :-)

Questions /comments about Yellow Page advertising? As always, your thoughts are much appreciated.

photo by Jonathan Bennett

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{ 249 comments… read them below or add one }

Search Engine Optimization Vancouver April 23, 2010 at 12:25 pm

While I can see your point on YP Books I do think that YP online can generate some serious business. I worked with numerous YP online branches and got some great results. Again it might not be for every business but if you are able to put together online properties that YP owns and there is lots of them you might be able to buy ads in some very very targeted places. I guess it works like everything else, you need to make you small test everything you do and never commit until you are sure that is the right thing to do.


lostx April 15, 2013 at 2:53 pm

As a consumer I can say that when I look for a business unless its a business I have worked with in the past I am expecting more than just a YP “spam” page. I consider all of those results spam and actually look past them. If anything a nicely done google plus page is going to 10x the work of any YP page. Now a days if a company doesn’t have a webpage I assume them to be on their way out of business. websites cost companies less than 2$ a day including local listing services. If they aren’t willing to shell out 2$ a day why would I trust them to provide a quality service let it be a pizza shop or an hvac service.


Jason August 2, 2014 at 8:48 pm

the fact that you use the word “spam” means your more tech savvy than most of the people who still look up a business online and come to the yellow pages online post. Therefore the people who are landing on these pages because they are not tech savvy and don’t know how to use google properly are a good chunk of business that you can still grab from a “trusted” “recognized” source, and since the basic listing is free… cant hurt.


BW October 5, 2013 at 1:08 am

Hi all,

Just as a general comment on the subject, I have a business and have invested in many YP advertising solutions. Last year I wasn’t sure anymore about the ROI from my full page print ad. My consultant advised “Why don’t we track the calls your ad generates to prove the ROI?” YP setup a unique call tracking number and placed it in my ads that got forwarded to my actual business line, since the tracking number was only found in the Yellow Pages ad copies the phone calls had to of come from those ads. I was blown away by the results, last month my $2200 monthly full page investment generated 163 calls, to give you an idea a new customer spends roughly $450, I’m converting roughly half of my calls into sales, thats $34,250 dollars per month in ROI = $411,000 annually. My suggestion, if your not sure what your returns are from your print advertising, ask if they can do a call measurement study on your ad….you may be pleasantly surprised….


also note October 5, 2013 at 1:21 am

Ya while your at it make sure they are recording the calls for honesty not just calls. I work in the yellow pages and I knew several reps who would call the call tracking number just to boost calls. A call is worthless unless its a sale, and a call tracking number is worthless unless you can listen to the recorded calls and track for yourself what was a sale and what was a “question asking” “yellow page rep” call.


chel October 5, 2013 at 11:12 am

You do realize bw that you have made it very clear that you are just a YP troll? We had the tracking number (our own) and the ROI has been NEGATIVE. Over $32k spent, 21k generated this year.


Mike SoCal December 10, 2013 at 9:39 pm

That’s great that you were able to track calls and track revenue…exactly what a smart business person should do. One more thing to track: Where do people find your YP ad? Do they Google, Bing, or use another search engine? If so, why would you pay YP to drive traffic to your website instead of those search engines. Its obvious that YP and other directories like Yelp will pay for ad space on Google to drive consumers there…thus validating their existence. Go with an internet marketing company, skip the BS of an old phone book company trying to get online.


AFM June 6, 2014 at 6:43 pm

You obviously work for yellow pages, because you sound just like my YP rep trying to get me back in the book @3200/mo. I told them to take a hike. I’ve been happily sans YP advertising for 2 years now and have actually grown my business significantly with only SEO at $1200/mo. Google+ is huge for me too and it’s free!!


Chris June 6, 2014 at 7:17 pm

What does you SEO campaign include for $1200 and how long did it take your keywords to rank organicly in the search engines?


Brian B July 1, 2014 at 1:24 pm

I will tell you what I found when I started doing tracking numbers.

First, since many companies copy the yellow pages, if you use a number that you wont be using in two years, you can find yourself with a phone number being published for many years down the road that your company doesn’t have access to.

secondly, when I had my tracking number I noticed that the caller id didn’t show the number calling and I realized pretty quick I could figure out who was calling the tracking number and who wasn’t

I was shocked that most of the calls were from other companies trying to sell me advertising that used the phone book as their source. after all, if you run a large ad with a phone book, why not run a large ad with them?

I also received about 5 calls per month from the directory company doing follow up calls on the tracking number, instead of my main number

in one year I landed 1 and only 1 actual sale to from that ad, which cost me more than the profit I made from that customer. the next year when the ad rep showed up and wanted to brag about all the calls that they were able to direct my way, I noticed that the number they claimed was about double the amount that I tracked so I knew they were adding calls to my list that weren’t even there.

I was able to decline any future business with him without feeling any guilt whatsoever

I would also like to follow up by saying this. my business is liquidating estates when people pass away. I go in and sell off everything that the family doesn’t take. true, 15 years ago I would often find several years worth of phone books, but now I find phone books left behind less than half the time. obviously they aren’t taking them with them to the grave so to me this really reflects the fact that phone books are slowly but surely going away


Andrew Shane April 23, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Marcus –

I work for SuperMedia & we are an advertising agency for small to medium sized businesses. We publish the Verizon Yellow Pages, are home to Superpages.com & have SuperPagesDirect direct mail products.

At SuperMedia, our media consultants develop marketing campaigns that fit each client best & that could be to advertise on Superpages.com, our SuperpagesDirect Direct Mail products &, when it is appropriate, our yellow pages.

We also have a variety of tracking tools to prove the value and ROI of each product and different services to help businesses build their online presence with search engine marketing campaigns, PPC advertising, web site building and hosting, etc.

According to a study this year, 65 percent of consumers surveyed online and by telephone, said they referenced print and/or Internet Yellow Pages within the past month when looking for local business information. Search engines scored second with 58 percent, flyers/coupons were 38 percent, newspapers were 33 percent, and magazines were 14 percent.

The percentage of those surveyed who said they had used print Yellow Pages within the last month increased 12 percent over the course of the year, from 51.5 percent in the first quarter to 57.6 percent in the fourth quarter.

Respondents also turned to print Yellow Pages more frequently as the year progressed. In the first quarter, there was an average of 0.93 references per U.S. adult per week. By the fourth quarter, that had grown 19 percent to 1.11 references per adult per week.

I could give you many more stats, but the bottom line is the print Yellow Pages continues to be a strong & viable media choice when consumers are ready to buy.

Fact is, there is a need for a yellow pages. Unfortunately, for years the YP industry was focused on defending their product instead of differentiating it.

Last year we introduced the SuperGuarantee (www.superguarantee.com) program available in all our products. When a consumer hires a painter, auto mechanic, contractor, plumber or other service provider that is part of our program, we will stand by the work. If there is a problem, we will step in & make it right. If we can’t, we will cut a check for up to $500 to the consumer.

The program is free to both the consumer & eligible client. Since the launch of this program we have seen double digit increases in the possession & usage of our directories — increases that we haven’t seen in years.

For our SMBs, we’ve created the SuperTradeExchange (www.supertradeexchange.com) – a national barter program where our clients can provide goods & services to other clients within the exchange. A great way of doing business in a recession.

I hope you & your readers can see that there are benefits in working with the right company.

Thank you,
Andrew Shane


Marcus Sheridan April 23, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Gentlemen, thanks to both of you for stopping by. You both make very good points but keep in mind here that when I refer to the ‘Yellow Pages’, I’m referring to the actually book that shows up at the door step, not the online programs, YPs, etc. But again, I thank you both for taking the time to add your thoughts.


Emily Binder November 22, 2011 at 11:49 am

Hi Andrew,

Have you looked at the research you cite in depth? I actually wrote about a PYP usage study similar to the one you reference. AT&T’s 2011 study stated that 65% of consumers use the print yellow pages. http://www.emilybinder.com/fifteenthlife/shoddy-market-research-seo-haystack/ “When combining both print and YP.com, 78 percent–or nearly eight out of 10–of those surveyed said they used at least one of the products within the past year compared to 77 percent a year earlier. ” It makes no sense that PYP would actually increase year over year in this day and age. AT&T commissioned a joke of a company to administer the surveys, plus the response and sample biases were clear. I detail it in my post.

You write, “I could give you many more stats, but the bottom line is the print Yellow Pages continues to be a strong & viable media choice when consumers are ready to buy.” I disagree with this, but let’s assume that it is true. What constitutes a viable media choice in light of yellow pages coercive pricing model? As Marcus writes, PYP is a medium where advertisers have to at least maintain spend or risk losing their position. The agencies who sell PYP paint this potential loss as a disaster. The tracking available is mediocre at best, because call tracking numbers find their way online.

The permanence of a directory listing in PYP that Marcus mentioned is a major factor. I can update my listings online anytime. If a phone number changes, a street name changes, or I close a location, I’m stuck with the listing in that book for a year. At least most people only use it as a door stopper or toddler chair booster, though.


Marcus Sheridan November 23, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Wow Emily, this comment was impressive. You know your stuff lady! And thanks so much for dropping by,



Emily Binder June 19, 2012 at 10:11 am

I was unable to edit my comment, so wanted to post a correction: The above link is broken. Updated link: http://www.emilybinder.com/marketing/print-yellow-pages-biased-research/
I keep coming back to this two-year old blog post as more comments are posted. I wonder how long it will be until there is no debate left.


Casey Lewis March 1, 2014 at 7:05 pm

I wonder the same thing Emily. I left the YP industry after watching them try for 10 years to figure out how to transition from a print model to an online. company. I got frustrated and started my own marketing company and are now Hubspot certified partner. Just in the knick of time. LOL


litesp33d June 14, 2012 at 7:01 am

I don’t wish to rain on your parade but in para 4 your percentages add up to more than 100%. If your math is that bad we can assume your vested interest comment should also be treated with suspicion. The other inference is that according to your stats YP and internet are so close as to make no difference but the cost difference is astronomical. It follows as in the article that the ROI is better for internet.


LogiccigoL April 19, 2013 at 5:35 pm

1. There are 5 percentages listed…
2. They are not supposed to add up to 100% because they are independent of each other. It was stating what percent of people used a certain product when looking for a product/service in the last month. A person is capable of using more than one source of information when trying to find a product/service within a month…
3. Don’t try to point out statistical mistakes AND call these stats “suspicious” because of his so-called bad math, when, in fact, your mind is the main problem with his math. You can’t interpret it…

Also, people arguing over the phone book being a useful source for a business gaining consumers?…
There are many successful businesses gaining revenue from the phone book. They have done the research for you. If it did not work, they wouldn’t use it.

However, you could say it has been something they’ve done for years and do not want to lose their presence in the phone book in case current customers look for them, by chance…

Ultimately, this issue comes down to whether or not consumers use it. I know my parents still use it. They are a part of a rather large generation… So, that would mean that it could be useful? I am not saying that every single person in that generation uses it, but is Marcus trying to say that none of them do anymore?! I know that is not true. Also, I would bet that their generation has more disposable income than us (the “internet is everything” generation), which makes them possibly more effective to market to…

You market where consumers look. End of story.


Chris M May 31, 2013 at 8:22 pm

I own a residential cleaning service and a home care agency for seniors. Thinking that the baby boomer generation and seniors would use the Yellow pages would be obvious right? Wrong! Biggest mistake I’ve ever made and will be discontinuing their service asap. No lie and I’m not exaggerating, because YP gave me a separate number so they could track my results. I have literally had 6 people call that number in 9 months and spend over $200 a month for a large ad (I got a “good deal”). Of those 6 people, 4 were solicitors. Unfortunately, I’m stuck paying them for a year or they will ruin my credit. What a scam!


Michael Ford January 27, 2014 at 1:34 pm

No need for statistics and generalities when you have a true example. Thanks for sharing Chris.


Kailey October 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm

That super guarantee could be taken with a grand of salt. I was offered as a client advertising for adult businesses for outcall services in different areas the super guarantee. All it is is just another charge on your gigantic advertising bill. So yes, it is NOT free at all and consumers should not feel in the least safe by it.

This year, we spent tons in yellowpage ads in many books. The only calls we are receiving are from internet advertising and we are the only ones in majority of the books. Not only that but the yellowpages have cost us so much needless frustration by trying to redo our ads and even list the wrong numbers. Every year I have these issues after we have our ads made and sent in. They redo them and mess them up completely and make them blurry. Many of the hotels have quit placing books in their hotels in the effort of being green. To me I feel I have been ripped off for years and so do all my competitors. I know I will be investing my money online this coming year then wasting it on print ads. It is so much cheaper and more efficient.


ed March 23, 2013 at 3:10 am

Yellow Pages stopped printing 6 years ago, strictly online, at least in Berks Co. Pa.
There is the Yellow book, currently in print, in the absence of YP tho. Which is about 1800 per year for business card size ad ,with plain 1 page website. YB took 3 years to get 1 job, had 3 calls. Now it pays for itself plus little extra. YP online got 2 to 3 leads in our first 3 months now, poor results for the salesman hype so far. YB online generates more for half cost.


Small Business Advisor April 23, 2010 at 10:17 pm

With all due respect, your article is loaded with statements that are unsubstantiated and have no basis. For example, to state that nobody used the yellow pages anymore is unfounded and without any supporting facts. Statements need to be supported with proven facts. Here are the facts: print yellow page usage is still very strong. And on a cost-per-call basis, “local” community yellow pages still outperform online forms of advertising. In fact, we have compared yellow pages to online ads (Google & Yahoo pay-per-click). The yellow pages outperformed them by a margin of 14 to 1! Here is the proof: As an agency, our clients include small businesses such as service companies, retailers, and professionals, including attorneys. Every ad we place for our clients, whether print or online (including online video), has a unique “call tracking” phone number. It records every call, including time of day, call length, and caller ID. Our clients receive as much as 140+ calls every month from their yellow pages advertising! The fact is that consumers are still using the yellow pages – and using them a lot! Results vary by category, as professionals receive less calls, yet their average new client is worth much more than a restaurant or beauty salon. Our advertising decisions are based on actual results. Regarding yellow pages, the best yellow pages are the local “community” phone books. As I mentioned, these local yellow pages outperform the online ads by a margin of 14 to 1 (on a cost-per-call basis). They have low rates and high usage. The rates aren’t anywhere near the $24,000 you quote in this article! We would never pay those rates! The problem with yellow pages has been with the utility publishers (i.e. AT&T, Idearc). Their years of abuse of businesses with high rates and poor service have finally caught up to them. As an agency, we demand they lower their rates to match the results – and they do! Businesses have another option these days – local “community” phone books and local online options (i.e. Google Maps). The bottom line is this: advertising decisions should be based on proven results and the return of investment. Place a “tracking number” in your proposed advertising medium (online, print, or video) and let the facts decide.


Marcus Sheridan April 24, 2010 at 12:22 am

Small Biz Advisor….love your passion…and it’s OK we don’t agree. That’s what healthy debate is all about. Notwithstanding, my message, as you mention, is mostly directed at companies like Idearc. But in terms of how much businesses spend, I know many that have spent 50k or much more in a year. In fact, 25k ain’t much. Think about it for a second: My company installs pools throughout all of Virginia and Maryland. So in order to do the ‘community’ approach, we’d have to be in a mountain of books…..which ain’t happening. Also, I’m not a huge proponent of cost per click, so your comparison is a mute point. I believe in creating incredible and informative content for the consumer. This leads to organic search results–which is the gift that keeps on giving—for FREE. Community phone books, and all phone books, have a life span of one-year max. And often times, when people look in the books they are essentially looking for domain addresses, not numbers. So if a company has a great Yellow Pages ad, but then the consumer sees they have a crappy website, they will likely not make the cut…..Again, I appreciate your passion but I think your solution, ultimately, is not keeping up with Web 2.0 principles.


Andrew Shane April 24, 2010 at 12:36 am

Marcus -

Me again. Let me pull the curtain back even more – - Idearc is no more. We are now SuperMedia, and I must say I do take some offense (although I really don’t blame you). As to how we are being portrayed. All I would ask for you and your readers is to go to website @ http://www.supermedia.com and check out programs like the SuperGuarantee that are helping consumers and SMBs while increasing the preference and usage share of the book. Take a look at our SuperTradeExchange – a national network of SMBs who are able to barter with other SMBs within the network – and tell me we don’t care.

We are not your father’s yellow pages and really should not be judged or placed in the same bucket as publishers. We are the advertising agency for the SMBs across the country.

Andrew Shane


Allen December 19, 2013 at 12:03 am

I am sorry, but I can’t help laugh… Idearc is no more? Let’s see, what has the progression been?
GTE Directories, then
Verizon, then
Idearc, then
Bankruptcy, then
Supermedia, then
Second Bankruptcy, then
Dex Media.
No wonder I am confused!


Casey Lewis March 1, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Whats really funny is the same guys who bankrupted Dex then went to Supermedia and bankrupted them and now merged back with Dex and it appears another bankruptcy is imminent. And they made money every step of the way. Wow!


Casey Lewis March 1, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Your dissertation makes a lot of the same unsubstantiated statements as everyone else’s. What makes yours more credible. I would say its time to change your business model and move out of the YP print and/or online as your source of income. You will be broke in 5 years if you continue to believe as an agency you can continue to place advertising in local print publications. As far as a 14-1 return. baloney. Your website must have been garbage if it couldn’t convert traffic from the online sources you mention. IMHO


Andy April 24, 2010 at 7:55 am

Marcus, I would absolutely love to challenge you. I’ll tell ya what, instead of Andrew Shane spewing marketing crap about a bankrupted company (recovered, FOR NOW) that offers some of the WORST yellow pages directories in the US, let’s just do a challenge. I will put up $500 in online marketing vs. $500 in print in one of our local markets and we will see who generates more leads and then who generates more ROI.

What you really need to understand is Yellow Pages are far from dead. Yellow Pages equals “feet on the street”, which to this day offers the BEST, integrable fact finding capabilities, period. The Internet if free and cheap and with many flaws. If you use Google maps I bet 1 out of 5 times it will take you to the WRONG dang place. Local Business Center is being abused with no end in site.

Recently we had an attorney in our area take me up on the challenge I offered to you, except we made it bigger to the tune of 4k. Online we marketed ALL of northern Alabama. We used Google Ad Words, Bing, Yahoo and Ask. We did both PPC, Dynamic banners and static ad positions. In print we just marketed Gadsden, Alabama. Print brought in 287 calls while online brought in 59 hits and 9 calls. His hit statistics were:

Time on Site: :44 seconds
Page Views: 1.27
Bounce Rate: 73%

His call statistics were:

Average Call length: 2:54
Average rings: 1.9
Answered and pertinent: 88%

The online campaign broadcasted over 1.5 million people and the print was 104k people. Print generated 5.5 times as many leads with over 4 times the amount of “customer communication”. The print ROI was over 500% while the online ROI only generated about 3-4 customers, which would equal about NEGATIVE 45%.

Now understand we ARE an online company. We DO sell an internet platform. We just want people to understand that a good mix of print and internet is a GREAT combination. Our print directories are far more affordable than some of the other books. In one of our markets AT&T charges nearly 3-4 times what we do on certain ads. IT IS OUTRAGEOUS what some Yellow Page Companies charge. I fully agree with you there. In our print markets a business can obtain a reasonably sized ad that gives them 4-6 lines of information about their business for about 20$ a month, very reasonable, you agree?

As you may know Google is going through some struggles right now on redefining local search. Quite honestly, I believe they are going down the wrong road. I would be curious to hear your comments on that.

I believe if you can covert a lead to revenue online then online is usually a good benefit, however, most companies use the internet for support and not sales. FYI, our sales people with feet on the street will sell 92% more than web unsolicited leads.

Marcus, again all I beg is before you launch into a speech please do diligent studies on the topic. It is responsible and the “healthy” thing to do. There is a lawsuit right now, I believe in Massachusetts, on someone “qualified” spreading rumors of internet usage over some other media. The plaintiff is accusing the defendant of being “qualified” in their position and having intelligent capabilities, yet the information was biased and unfounded. I believe the charges are Fraud. The interesting was the Flower business in Australia in regards to Google. And don’t get me started on Page Rank and Indexing!!!! Take a look at that one and that is where the internet is today. Far too much junk information that is unchecked and non cleansed. Just my .02 cents. Thanks bud!


Emily Binder June 19, 2012 at 10:22 am

One point about test numbers and call tracking from the PYP ads: Yellow pages test numbers often find their way online. Google one of your test phone numbers. The tests aren’t pure. Furthermore, the fact that those phone numbers end up online is ironic, wouldn’t you say?


joe underwood June 13, 2013 at 10:22 am

WOW! Lots of stuff to digest. True, that saying YP’s are dead might be bit overstated? But if out of the box thinking was used I believe the “LION” means that there are other avenues to create ROI (opinion that are better). My position is and has been that YP’s charge excessive amounts in relationship to ROI and need to come down to the ability to pay by the LOCAL SMB. But is the WWW cluttered……….for sure………….are some of the search vehicles failing in BETA applications…………..for sure. The bulk of any YP book is made up of LOCAL merchants respect their efforts in being a partner to their success? I do not pretend or portend to speak for the “LION” or you or any other contributor of this thread……….just offering some of my thinking as a LOCAL SMB!
joe underwood
Area Code Shopper


Casey Lewis March 1, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Andy, with all due respect where did you come from? I spent 25 years on the street selling Yellow Page print ads. Then I spent the last 12 years negotiating with the company’s you mention on behalf of their sales representatives. The product is dead, the companies are dead, the sales force has turned over, the infrastructure for production and customer service has been outsourced. In a few small rural markets the books may work a little bit. But my friend, IT”S OVER! Get out now and move on. Cerberus is the only viable option left to consolidate the whole thing and then gut it like a pig. The losers are the customers who are left to the devices of inexperience sales representatives with sub stand products both print and online.


Ron July 11, 2014 at 12:24 am

Hi Casey, I used to work for this company. Basically, they are on the steep downside slide on the bell curve and crashing fast. The reason for the mergers, even communicated to employees, is to “lengthen the runway as a viable entity”. Their spokes person is Andy and he is paid to basically maintain consumer relations. I am so glad I no longer work in this firm. The politics are cut-throat for the most part. Some of the worst management would include types like Carol Desmond Donohue but I will have to admit, the company does have one “shining star” and that would be Dee Jones. If they had more like him, the company would do well. Not only is he brilliant, but from my observations, he treats his people with respect, which is rare in that company.
Print is in a steep decline; they can deny that, but the truth appears in their quarterly results. For firms in declining industries to survive and stay viable, new revenue streams away from their core products should be explored and utilized. This company is slow to react to industry trends and continues to maintain archaic crony management that exasperates the continued decline.
Watch for the next merger in two years…..


Small Business April 24, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Responding to Marcus . . . first of all, the rates you quote are not real world. We have not spent anything near the rates you mention in your article for any book, community or otherwise. If you choose to use a utility book like AT&T or SuperMedia, you need to demand lower print rates from the utility publishers, and they will comply. Secondly, you state that my comparison is a “mute point” because you do not consider “cost per click”. If you read my comment, the comparison between print and online is COST-PER-CALL, not cost-per-click. We placed the call tracking numbers into print ads, as well as the websites that were promoted online. For us, the print outperformed the online ads 14 – 1. Now check Andy’s example above: the print ad scored 287 calls and the online program only scored 9. With actual facts, the real story is told. And the real story here is that the yellow pages are still the best source of business returning the best ROI. Just be sure to select the right book in your market. Andy should be congratulated for “tracking” all sources and making media decisions based on facts. Kudos to you Andy!


Kailey October 4, 2012 at 6:34 pm

This I must reply to. I have called other local businesses that are in different fields of interest. My companies and lawyers pay way way too much because of the field we are in. Other businesses told me their numbers and I was so p&%$@#! It is a rip off and I have even paid 90,000 in just one year on just one book before. Although I have learned my lesson and granted this was when more people were using books. I have spoken to four of the yellow page companies in my area to see what they had to say. I was told it goes on what business you own and also your location that determines your prices. So, his advertising may be way more then yours depending on those two mentioned. We receive this treatment online as well since we are an adult business but I think paying ten times more the norm for the same size ad is ridiculous and the only reason for it is because they know they can.


Todd Emmerson April 24, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Very interesting comments from everyone. I think you’ve stirred up a lot of differing view points and I’m kind of surprised at how much differing opinion exists on this subject. Three years ago we cut back to the very minimum in our yellow page book ads (just name, website, and phone number) and only pay to be listed in one of the 9 zones we work in (our target area closest to our shop). The last several years I’ve actually felt bad for the sales person calling on us to try and get us to go with a larger ad and to add our listing to more books. He would give all kinds of statistics to back up his points, but I knew our own data didn’t agree. I’ve sold 121 swimming pools since we’ve implemented our detailed lead tracking system. One of the questions in our lead tracking system is “How did you first hear about Siganture Pools?” Out of the 121 sales ONLY TWO listed the phonebook and out of those two – one of them said it was the phonebook and website. Maybe in other industries the yellow page print adds are still working, but my days of paying to be in a yellow page print add are done.


Mike June 10, 2012 at 10:59 am

Now that’s good data Todd!

I can’t think of the last time I personally used the phonebook, even when I’m looking for a local plumber, handyman, electrician, pool service.

IMO it’s a huge waste of money. I have casually talked with many peers both online and offline and asked that same question, and the answer was always the same. They had not opened up a phonebook (yellow pages) for years. Most, like me, in fact just throw them away the same day we get them annoyingly dropped off in our driveways. I didn’t ask for that book. Don’t litter my driveway with them.


Marcus Sheridan April 25, 2010 at 6:01 pm

@Andy— Well stated Andy in the sense that you seem to recognize flaws on the Yellow Pages end—like everything, there will always be good and bad companies that hurt or help an industry—-but understand that the mission of this blog is to help business owners not to make really dumb mistakes–the mistakes I’ve made–and huge ads in a phonebook that are a set cost of $1500 a month in each book is a bad, bad idea in 2010….and BTW, Pagerank and Index are the most flawed tools on the planet, we certainly agree on that one!

@Small Biz— When I said cost per click, I was referring to cost per call—both of which are good systems when used properly. Fact is though, organic search, when understood and performed properly, beats them both hands-down. Biz owners should always, always focus on organic search and fill in the gaps with any Pay Per campaigns

@Todd— Thanks for stopping in Todd. You speak for thousands and thousands of small biz owners. It’s crazy how many people I’ve talked to just like over the past couple of years, and the number only continues to grow. Congrats on your successes…….


Andrew B May 28, 2010 at 1:27 am

I am rapidly reaching the point where I am about to cancel both Yellow Pages book and Yellow Pages online. The sales rep. today called to boast about the fantastic results another clinic had with “metered calls” (they advertise your ad. with their own unique phone number: =they must have questioned him last year if it was a waste of money….) Turns out their two clinics averaged 5.3 Y.P. calls per month each. At an annual spend, that’s 64 calls per clinic, per year for $1900 per clinic…… That’s over $31 per phone call, and maybe not everyone of these people made an appointment………
We closely track where our new patients come from on their patient history they fill in when they arrive. Google costs around the same and delivers about 40 times as many patients.

Yellow Pages book and online is dead. This Forum has helped me make my final decision- thankyou very much.


Marcus Sheridan May 28, 2010 at 8:45 am

Glad you stopped by and found it helpful Andrew B, the stats you’ve shared here are very, very interesting and telling as well.


Gordon Medley July 13, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Wow, Marcus! This is exactly what I’ve been telling folks (clients) for years. The day of overpriced Yellow Page type adds are soon to be over. I hear it over and over from small business owner’s that were talked out of large sums of cash by phone directory reps. Gary Vaynerchuk has been singing the same tune too. It never ceases to amaze me when someone tells me how much they paid for their annual phone directory advert in just ONE directory ($2,500, $5000 and more) crazy!


Marcus Sheridan July 13, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Wow Gordon, love the avatar man!! And thanks for adding to the conversation. People can say what they want, but the Yellow Pages of a few years ago will not exist within the next 5 years. As you’ve eluded to, you know that…..I know that….and most intelligent businesses are recognizing that now as well. Thanks for stopping by :-)


John M November 30, 2010 at 1:45 am

I realize the last post on this blog was made about 4 1/2 months ago.
However I recently received a call from my AT&T yellow page ad rep so that prompted me to start researching online. Let me say I’ve been in business for 10 years and can tell you the ROI with both print and online yellow pages continues to diminish. With that said at least the cost for the ads continue to decrease. In any event the ROI has been a break even scenario as far as print and online yellowpages go.

My new business comes from organic searches, local searches, angies list, yelp, my websites and most importantly… referals.

If any one has comments or questions I would be happy to answer them or offer feedback. I don’t mind giving more specifics either.



Marcus Sheridan December 1, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Well put John, sounds like you’ve got a wealth of experience to back up your thoughts on this subject….thanks for commenting. :-)


neil December 13, 2010 at 10:59 am

Cheese O !

Just my two pence worth but for me in the UK the Yp is a dead horse and not worth the flogging. I could give you all manner of data to back it up but in my case (three businesses and one a world renowned franchise) we got almost zero return on our YP adverts.

total waste of money.


Marcus Sheridan December 13, 2010 at 11:01 am

Well said Neil, and thank for the cross-Atlantic perspective!


Paul December 18, 2010 at 2:01 am

Everybody has some valid opinions, maybe some facts, and probably partly accurate forecasts of the future of the yellow pages of all the books. But, to say without reservation that a business owner SHOULD NOT advertise at all in a phone book is not good advice. I agree you should be careful and limit your expense, but don’t get out altogether. Older people still use the book, and so do a smaller population of younger people.

Obviously, we all know the world is heading more and more into the “internet” to search for things, including business and residential phone numbers. And, I think it is safe to say print media is slowing down, at least with the younger age groups. Print will be around for some time. How long? If you know for sure, then you should invest all your money, including your 401K into internet based advertising with several companies. Rest my case.

Should you, or not, advertise in yellow page phone books? Yes and no, and maybe. It all depends on your geographic location, demographics of the population, type of business, amount of competition in the area, and how many phone books are in your area. Some business should, and need to keep advertising in the yellow pages, even if it is just the “free” line advertisement each book automatically lists for your business. And, then there are some businesses that don’t necessarily, to definitely not, need to advertise. I will say advertising in more than two books is just ludicris. Look at the distribution/circulation of the book, and if the book has residential and business listings. It would make more sense to advertise in book that has the most distribution/circulation, and if possible, has residential as well. If your area has just two books, you may want to advertise in both, but don’t overspend. *If you are in a small town and DO NOT have a lot of competitors, then you only need to advertise just enough to either keep up with the competition, or slightly out size their ad. Otherwise, don’t spend a fortune on a huge display ad, that would be a waste.

CAUTION: Advertisers, all phone books, are trying to bundle their advertising and offer you a package that includes a lot of extras, including a website, video, and listings on their online directory. However, the cost is going to be more, each year for sure, and they will tell you that they can’t give you the package unless it is more than what you already presently are spending. I heard a client tell me that they wanted to go smaller with an advertisement in the print, but the Sales Rep told them that it would be more expensive than the bundle ad, and the cost would be “X”. So, what they did was “put it to the customer” so that they had no choice but to take the bundle to avoid the higher cost to buy the smaller ads separately. Hmmm…so there is no way to reduce costs, right? That can’t be right, but that is what an AT&T sale rep told a customer. Coincidently, AT&T has almost the entire market with telephones, so customers associate that with better exposure, which may be a benefit. AT&T holds it over the clients head and make them feel like if they don’t advertise, or go bigger, then they will lose business because the book is in “every” household. Now, I think you can see this somewhat of a coercion type sales tactic. How do I know, because I’ve talked to quite a few customers.

I suggest, look and see what book(s) have the best circulation/delivery to households and businesses, have very close costs for same ad sizes in other books, and then put most of your money there. Then, if you feel you must, or should, be in another book, put some funds into that book as well. And, then what is left over from doing less with the book(s), put that to work on the Internet (Google & Yahoo). Don’t forget to claim/register your business address etc. with both. Also, if you really have a business that you feel is found more from searches on the internet, then put some of your advertising funds there as well. DON’T LET THE SALES REP MAKE YOU THINK YOU CAN’T REDUCE YOUR COSTS. Don’t be afraid to cut back, especially if your business is well established and known. You can always increase it next year if you notice a decline. In the end, you just have to decide if you think print yellow page advertising is making your phone ring. All phone book companies have “Remote Call Forwarding”, or tracking of calls, that you can use for “free”. It will track the number of calls you get from your ads.

Be smart, do your homework, and think about what you are trying to accomplish with your advertising dollars. What message do you want to send? Are you trying to build an image for your company? Do you have seasonal business? It could be that some radio ads would be more beneficial, at least for special promotions or grand openings. Billboards can be effective at building brand awareness, but it is very expensive and often blurred due to clutter, just as radio can have clutter. TV ads are good, but expensive, and should be used if you are trying to build your brand and image. PRINT(Phone Book Ads) and INTERNET (Google and Yahoo) are where people go when they are ready to buy, or researching information. You may hear a radio ad, see a billboard, or even get a word of mouth referral, but if you don’t have the number, you will have to search in the print book, on the internet, or on in the phone book online directory (YB.com or YP.com or whatever your book has available).

I hope this helps some of you make a better decision. I think too many people or one sided based on their personal experience and somehow think they are an expert and can advise everyone else NOT to advertise a certain way. They are not giving you good advice. That is like listening to your neighbor who invested in mutual funds, or anything in the market, and loss their butts off, then turned around and told you never to invest in the market, but rather put all your money in CD’s and Saving or Money Market accounts. Is that the right advice or action? No. I know this too, because I’ve been a Financial Advisor as well. There are those who should invest in certain things, and not other things.

Good luck! Do your research, know your market, customer, and competition.


Noah February 17, 2012 at 10:42 pm

I do agree with you on trying to get smaller ads I list in two phone books each year and spend just over $6,000. That’s is $4,000 with super media and $2,000 with Yellow Book. I would love to cut back on that, cause I have yet to hear a client say they found us in the phone book. So today super media call and wanted to get my August 2012 ad ready, fist she told me what I should do and it would have coasted me $70.00 more a month, Told her that I need to cut add sizes and she told me that it will cost me more to have a smaller ad because I am in a bundle. That is what they are trying to do, to keep your money. She did say about doing a tracking number but there would be a $40 charge per month unless I upgrade to the next size bigger ad then it would be free. So what I am going to do is add a cell phone line to my cell plan for $9.99 a month put that number in the book and the keep the cell phone beside my office phone and when it rings I know its from the phone book, and my monthly bills tells me what number called and length of call so I get “real” info cause I don’t trust he stats. I own a dog boarding kennel and grooming, there is only one other kennel that has a Ad in the kennel part of the phone book, and there are a couple that have just there name but they are all smaller kennel and I get all there over flow clients in the summer when the little guys are full. I have 60-dog cages in a 5,000sqf building and I am 90% for 14 weeks out of the summer. We have been around for 30+ years now. I am taking the weekend to think about what I want to do, and I have decided to tell her that I just want my name and number in kennel and also grooming/ and superpages.com (witch they charge $99.00 a month for) to list us on 200+ search engines witch yellow book does the same thing so I pay for it twice.


mary vena March 6, 2011 at 12:20 pm

i wonder how many people even use the new book they receive at there door. i know people that throw the new book away and keep the old book. this year we are not going in the yp for the first time in 25 years. it seem that the Internet is the place to be , we will see. it has cost us $450.00 per month for the add and that does not include the business phone bill. if you incorporate both bills that is around $1,000.00 per month. most of our calls are previous cutomers and internet users. we have a plumbing and heating business in the same location for the past 26 years.


Marcus Sheridan March 7, 2011 at 10:11 am

Hi Mary, and thanks so much for adding your thoughts here. Many of the blue-collar businesses I coach are just like you– they’re dropping antiquated forms of advertising because they realize the internet is really their only answer in this day and age. With a proper inbound marketing campaign, small businesses can now spend way less than they used to to advertise yet get way more results.

Thanks again.



David Jenyns March 7, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Hi Marcus,

We conducted a random survey just to know what people think of Yellow Pages and Google. Here’s one part of the result.

Q1. How often do you use the print version of the Yellow Pages?

* 7.69% use it regularly
* 23.08% once a month
* 15.38% once a year
* 53.85% never use it

YP was useful. But that was before. Gone are the days when people rely on Yellow Pages for information. In fact, I got a pretty cool video on youtube where people just said what’s on their minds regarding yellow pages.




alex April 2, 2011 at 3:11 am

Hi i Just would like to add to this blog, that my business was on the yellow pages and they called me like crazy about putting my business on the their book and the the sales even gave me a check to compensate for the extra cost per month , because she wanted me to get a bigger add and pay more than i can afford… i told her no and she cut me a check and the add ran for a full year i dint get any business after calculating cost and expense on the add… my bill was 900 a month an i would make about 1300 it was totally not worth it they are rip offs


Hope August 5, 2011 at 4:27 am

Ah, I advertised in Yellow pages this year after not advertising for 2 years because they stuffed up my phone number. After coming to a resolution on that, I agreed I wanted a one unit advert full colour for $3500 (as I had done before). The sales person was pushy though and convinced me that if I didn’t up grade my advert to 2 unit ($7500) that all the competitors in the book would come before my advert and I could be on the next page. He told me an advert that size would generate approximately 90 phone calls per month. I said I hoped it would increase turnover by about $30grand, he laughed and said it would increase my turnover a substantial amount more than that.

When the book arrived I ripped it open, flicked to where our advert was and I was devastated – all my competitors had pulled their adverts out. This indicated to me that the book went so bad the year before they all pulled out. I didn’t need to spend $3500 over my budget since I was the only one left! …. I tried to stay positive since now I was only one of 3 display adverts…. But we’ve had nothing all year, not even ONE phone call.

When I tried to dispute the charges they claim they never guarantee the advert will product leads in writing, which is fair enough. However, is it fair that their sales person can spin whatever he wants verbally to you and isn’t at all held accountable for his actions?


Marcus Sheridan August 5, 2011 at 9:23 am

So sorry to hear that Hope. What a shame. Apparently that sales guy has no conscious. I hope things end up well for you though.



neil August 5, 2011 at 6:03 am

I was on this board a couple of years ago maybe but I wanted to update whats happened to us.
We pulled all our adverts form YP and this made no difference at all to our turnover (our business was aimed at the hearing market and the age group you would expect to still use YP)

What I will say is that I have become the biggest schmooze in the UK and spend all day at events or shaking hands and playing golf after lunches. This you may think is fun but its really hard to have a smile every minute of everyday. What I will say is however, Our turnover has gone through the roof. (and profit with it)
Dump the YP and spend the money on SCHMOOOZING! Join a golf club! (Im Scottish so its in my DNA anyway) Facebook,Linkedin and Bloggs. There are many companies who will do all you viral marketing for you so its money far better spent.
Ps dont do the lunches without the golf, you will have to join a gym afterwards!!


Marcus Sheridan August 5, 2011 at 9:21 am

Thanks for the update Neil, and good luck with the Schmoozing!!


neil August 5, 2011 at 11:35 am

I have put on a 14lbs in weight!
I am the king of the schmooze

It works though Marcus.

anyone for golf?


joe underwood January 15, 2012 at 3:45 pm

No replies since Aug. 2011 so my observation might fall on deaf ears?
Maybe just maybe everyone here has a legitimate position? But just step out of the box and “be” the local consumer who is looking for a product and or service provided by a local merchant/vendor! What, When, Where, Why and How does the consumer go about satisfying their quest? Probably all of the above?
So, no cost to the local consumer, well what about no cost to the local merchant/vendor when use of the WWW/Net is used satisfy both platforms?
Today I received a Phone Book/Yellow Pages delivered to my home and to our office and it was FREE. Today I am replying to this WEB Site and it is FREE. I also searched a local Directory Site looking for a product (which I called) and I purchased to the product the search was FREE. The seller of the product listed the product on the local Directory for FREE. Amazing that the local merchant nor the local consumer new nothing about SEO/SEM/SMB/ORGANIC or the host of other acro’s or Abbrev’s and yet the entire UNION of SATISFACTION was FREE? No one go to the “nothing is FREE” quote, obviously there is always a cost associated with something. There are sites out there in the WWW that offer FREE e.g., http://www.areacodeshopper.com & http://www.uscities.net and a host of other directories.

joe underwood


ryan crieth February 10, 2012 at 3:54 pm

I was approached by supermedia to advertise my small business. Apparently they saw my ad that i posted on craigslist. At the bottom of the craigslist ad it clearly states not to contact me with services or other commercial interests. Now why would i want to deal with a company whose representative either cannot read or does not fully read an ad before contacting the business?


Marcus Sheridan February 10, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Well put Ryan!


Emily Binder February 20, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Ryan, that was technically illegal for the Supermedia rep to contact you. And it’s sad that their sales team is resorting to spamming people who post ads on Craigslist. If they email you again, report them to the BBB and mark the email as spam.


ryan crieth February 21, 2012 at 10:08 am

Emily i would but the BBB is the longest running scam in history. There was an interesting piece by 20/20 a few years ago about how Wolfgang Puck has an F rating because he wont pay for an A. I was contacted by the BBB a few months after i started my company and was flat out told that if i payed the membership i would have an A. I encourage anyone you gives the BBB money to watch this and see where your money really goes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yo8kfV9kONw


Mark O'Halloran April 22, 2012 at 9:50 am

Sounds like you guys believe the FBI killed Kennedy too


Marcus Sheridan April 23, 2012 at 10:03 am

The FBI killed Kennedy? Now that explains it!! ;-)


ryan crieth May 14, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Sounds like someone suffers from poor comprehension.


craig February 15, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Canpages (large yellow page publisher in Canada) Was shut down last week (Feb 2012)
by Yellow Media who publishes the balance of Yellow pages in Canada. Their stock down from $17 to 11.5 cents.
What will we do for party tricks……tear a domain name in half?
They are done and we don’t have to store them any more, about time.


Mike Cunningham March 31, 2012 at 10:18 pm

I advertised with both Dex & Yellow Book USA. They both included websites with domain names registered in THEIR names. If I don’t renew my advertising, can I get my domain name back and registered in MY name? Thank you.


craig April 1, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Mike……I doubt It. First thing to do is buy a domain that says where you are and what you do….dot com only please. And do it now before they are all gone.
Go with your brand as well, if you can, but BE what a searcher would intuitively type in his computer.
Any domain you invest time and energy in must be under your control from day one.
Practical info on SMB domains can be found at inameonly.com
Good luck!


Mike Cunningham April 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Thanks Craig, just to make myself clear, both domains registered by the phone companies ARE my brand and what I would want my domain(s) to be called. They were doing me a “favor” by registering them for me. But now they are under their control. But if I stop advertising with them, and the domains expire, I see no reason why the phone companies would want to keep them. I assume they would let them expire and I could re-register them under my name? Or they would transfer them to me (at a cost of course)? Thanks for your help.


craig April 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Mike, phone companies don’t do favors. The reason they might want to keep them is because they see a profit in doing so. If you are not trademarked, be careful. Just sayin……….


Mitch April 15, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Fabulous article, i totally agree with it. Yellow pages is a dead form of advertising and much better and newer ways of advertising. No wonder they are trying their hardest to get into other forms of online marketing they well know that their stronghold on advertising is falling dramatically. I have also writtten an article on this if your interested please have a read.


Debora April 18, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Craig.. I canceled my phone book display add today and went to a listing with just our name ph# website address.. huge savings .. but i must admit my pulse quickened and it makes me nervous.. but were really busy and new clients tell us they found us on the web .. tell me i did the right thing.. : )


noah April 18, 2012 at 6:42 pm

If most of your clients are telling you they find you on the web then you did the right thing. Just have to look at it like you would if you put a add in the paper, if you dont see a return or a groth in business then you dont do it again. The phone book should be not different.


Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Keep investing into a great site with great content and I know things will work out for you Debora!

Good luck,



Amber November 26, 2012 at 2:19 pm


If you just have your company’s name, # number, website in Yellow pages does it move up your rankings on the web, or are you specifically talking about going to Yellow pages website and finding the business? Is that how Yellow pages work?


Marcus Sheridan November 28, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Hello Amber. The Yellow Pages do not affect your ranking in Google. Generally speaking, I suggest that companies list their website and phone number in the Yellow Pages. At this point, a big expensive ad has very little value and return on investment.

I hope this helps a little and best of luck to you and your business,



craig April 18, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Debora…..Hi…..sure sounds like you did the right thing, your money goes so much further online. No “for sures” in marketing of course, but considering the number of small business owners that are scrambling to get websites up, you are not alone.
Without knowing your specifics, hard to comment in detail.
Yellow page folks used to say their ads were “feet on the ground” Now, you have “wings
in the air”
Google “domainsmatter” good stuff there……..Craig


allan Klaff April 19, 2012 at 11:40 am

It’s very obvious that you have never been involved with the Yellow Pages industry other than an advertiser who probably had no idea of what you were doing. I have spent over 40 years in local and national advertising and yes, the industry has changed, but not dead. If you were to take the time, you could check to see Yellow Pages revenues are moving upward in most markets. Where the problem falls is not the product, but the publisher. Too many, too much. While Internet advertising is great for most businesses, print Yellow Pages is in the home,in the business and ready in a second to use. It’s been around since 1888 and will never go away. Why, because of usage. Clear and simple.


Mike Cunningham April 19, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I for one cannot remember the last time I looked in a phone book to locate a business. I’m sure that’s especially true for the younger generation who have grown up with the internet & Google. The first thing I do is Google whatever I’m looking for and go to their website, then hopefully their Facebook page. Much more information, much more up to date, much more interactive. The internet is also “in the home, in the business and ready in a second to use,” and I don’t have to go digging around in a drawer or cabinet to find it. It’s a dinosaur and will go the way of the dinosaur – extinction.


Mark O'Halloran April 22, 2012 at 9:42 am

Before providing pure opinion and baseless conclusions you should do a bit of research and then rethink what you publish as fact. While not trendy or sexy Print Yellow Pages is extremely cost effective for Many local and national advertisers. Just look under the “Insurance “heading for example – GIECO, Allstate, Progressive, and most recently Esurance….all have dramatically ramped up their print Yellow Pages visibility – do you seriously think these sophisticated national advertisers would commit these types of ad dollars without tracking allllllllll of their results. Of course not –

One of our largest clients who has a very extensive and innovative on line marketing campaign as a national Insurance company (household Name) recently shared with us that although online is profitable the shocking truth to them after years of tracking not only cost per lead but actual conversions to customers – that Print YP delivered a far better ROI than any of their online paid search campaigns.

So I would suggest rather than just throw out some rather ignorant directives to your clients – do your homework – don’t try to back up your own opinions – look at the data objectively and you will find contrary to popular chatter – Dewey didn’t defeat Truman – and your conclusions are similarly inaccurate.

For the real facts give us a ring 203 386 0228 and we will be happy to share what the actaul data shows.


Mark O'Halloran April 22, 2012 at 9:47 am

Before providing pure opinion and baseless conclusions you should do a bit of research and then rethink what you publish as fact. While not trendy or sexy Print Yellow Pages is extremely cost effective for Many local and national advertisers. Just look under the “Insurance “heading for example – GIECO, Allstate, Progressive, and most recently Esurance….all have dramatically ramped up their print Yellow Pages visibility – do you seriously think these sophisticated national advertisers would commit these types of ad dollars without tracking allllllllll of their results. Of course not –

One of our largest clients who has a very extensive and innovative on line marketing campaign as a national Insurance company (household Name) recently shared with us that although online is profitable the shocking truth to them after years of tracking not only cost per lead but actual conversions to customers – that Print YP delivered a far better ROI than any of their online paid search campaigns.

So I would suggest rather than just throw out some rather ignorant directives to your clients – do your homework – don’t try to back up your own opinions – look at the data objectively and you will find contrary to popular chatter – Dewey didn’t defeat Truman – and your conclusions are similarly inaccurate.


craig April 22, 2012 at 10:20 am

H’mm so why are so many YP publishers failing…..too much success?


joe underwood April 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Marcus, originally your threads with regards to the YP’s of the Nation were satisfying and were and are dead on but!!!!! Let’s move on and show those who are and were tied to the old marketing done through the outdated YP’s the alternatives available?

Start by showing the local SMB (Small to Medium Business) how they can advertise or market themselves using the WWW/NET for FREE or with ROI (Return On Investment) with minimum cash outlay?

Your Mantra could be “forget the YP’s” and any or all paid media marketing tools from the past?

Area Code Shopper


John May 10, 2012 at 4:49 pm



Mike Cunningham May 10, 2012 at 5:24 pm

John – Did you even read the other replies? There are lots of facts quoted. For example:

Hi Marcus,

We conducted a random survey just to know what people think of Yellow Pages and Google. Here’s one part of the result.

Q1. How often do you use the print version of the Yellow Pages?

* 7.69% use it regularly
* 23.08% once a month
* 15.38% once a year
* 53.85% never use it

YP was useful. But that was before. Gone are the days when people rely on Yellow Pages for information. In fact, I got a pretty cool video on youtube where people just said what’s on their minds regarding yellow pages.



Anyway, the next time I hear of someone under 70 using the Yellow Pages I’ll let you know. Until then, I’d start updating your resume… and stop using all caps.


John May 14, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Do i need to talk slower so that you can understand…we computer call count the actual listing and the customer receives 100-1000 calls per month from their yp ad…our sales are up 14% net from last year…U NEED TO FIND A REAL JOB OTHER THAN WRITING FICTION!!


MIKE May 14, 2012 at 7:13 pm

WHATEVER YOU SAY JOHN! Because we all know a Yellow Book salesman would never embellish the actual numbers….

Again, when I meet someone under 70 who uses the Yellow Pages I will let you know!


MIKE May 14, 2012 at 7:28 pm

John – Here’s an interesting article on the subject from Forbes. Ever heard of it?


“Multiple studies confirm that consumers report using the internet first (80% of the time)”

And here’s another interesting article: http://louisvillemarketinglabs.com/the-yellow-pages-are-irrelevant-to-business/

“Yelp presented a survey to gauge how business owners feel about yellow page phone books in the digital age. 76% of the 3,500+ respondents said “NO” when asked: “Are yellow page phone books still relevant?”
“Only about 10% of business owners use yellow page phone books more than once per month; 3 out of 4 don’t use it at all”

You must be a helluva salesman!


Local Internet Marketing May 21, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Great article! I couldn’t agree more with you. I worked for Dex Media for over 3 years and my business partner worked at AT&T yellow pages for over 12 years.

10 years ago when the yellow pages were actually used :) there was a great ROI for companies. Heck if you weren’t in the yellow pages at that time you were crazy or had the wrong marketing guy/agency.

Nowadays your best money is spent online. There are programs where you can try to do this yourself and their are SEO’s that can do this for you.

Yellowpage directories? Who searches google to search another directory? NO ONE thats who…lol The traffic these companies show you come from their own sales reps showing clients the YP directories. We have done several studies in several markets to find no one actually uses the YP directories (as much as they would love a business owner to think they do).

Fact is even the yellow pages know the yellow pages are dead. This is why they try so hard to get their customers to go into their online directory, buy PPC campaigns from them etc. Heck some of the larger yellow pages give you a free ad if you pay for their “wonderful” online products.

Playing devils advocate: I do this every once in a while because there are always good with bad. While some businesses do not need a presence in the yellow pages, most simply need to cut back their spend. Services like Attorneys, Plumbers, Dentists etc. will need to continue spending in the yellow pages but should drop ad sizes, talk with the other professionls in your market and decide you all wont do more than an ad that cost $100/mo or something of that nature.

You want…no need to diversify your advertising. If you don’t you won’t be around as long as you like.

Once again great article. This article actually made me start working on several service blogs because we work with several clients throughout the US and most are in the service industry (the industry doomed to keep some spend in the yellow pages….at least for now)


Vancouver SEO Services June 4, 2012 at 7:29 pm


It seems as though your article from 2 years ago, that you wrote in one day, has produced more interest in from both sides of the fence than the yellow pages could ever produce.

Here are some simple facts that is proven by the content on this blog.

1. If you stop paying for your space in the yellow pages, you are removed at the end of the year. No one can argue that.

2. If you write good content that stimulates engagement with visitors, you can for free attract visitors to your site indefinitely via the search engines. You have tons of comments from people that have found this via searching for something on the internet.

Big surprise.

This page proves the mute point of yellow pages advertising. You have a cost, the cost will increase. The results are diminishing. Who in their right mind pays more each year for something that is getting used less each year?

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short, gets better every year as a domain gains authority. By spending the same amount of money each year in SEO, you actually see growing results. Year 2, you will have more leads than year 1. Year 3 will have more leads than year 2.

I am not guessing on this. I have 30+ clients paying me monthly for seo services. The ones that have never strayed, or adjusted budget, have more leads in year 2 than they did in year 1, even though my price did not change.

When a major keyword breaks, the traffic can literally double on a website just for 1 keyword. Nevermind the fact that a good SEO company will target hundreds and even thousands of keyword phrases built out over time.

Anyone arguing on the side of yellow pages, is oblivious to what is happening in the world.

Yellow pages ARE DEAD.

I am also speaking of experience on this. I once had a cleaning company several years ago. We had an aggressive yellow pages advertising budget and were in several books in our area. We were paying around 18k in advertising in our first year of business, and it grew our business. It worked. This was about 10 years ago. Second year, business was growing, it was still working. 3rd year it flatlined, and although we had the same position in the yellow pages with our increased advertising costs each year, the calls declined. 4th year, we were up to 30k a year in YP advertising, and we were down 20% in calls from the year before. 5th year, we closed shop, because the YP bill was taking what little profits we had in our business, because we had relied to much on them to come through for us.

Each year a rep came, sold, lied to us about what would happen. Each year it got worse.

We never heard from our rep each year after they made the sale, and each year we got sent a different rep. During the course of the year, there was no accountability for the lack of results, because no one even talked to you until it was time to renew.

In online advertising, you have the flexibility of adjusting budget, and the ability to adjust campaigns on the fly if they are not working. You print an ad in the yellow pages, your done as mentioned by others in this articles comments.

People, I have not opened a YP book in over 5 years, nor would I ever do it. It is a waste of paper ( environmentally bad ) and they are too big and clunky, when I can just go to my pc, or now my smart phone, and find anything I want faster, by voice command, in seconds with something that fits in my pocket. I can even 1 click call them from my mobile device.

It is ridiculous to rely, use, or think of the yellow pages at all anymore.

Bye bye yellow pages, you are not dead yet, but you are dying a slow death.


joe underwood June 10, 2012 at 11:44 am

Constructive opinions on marketing is something I like to read and learn from? The basic tenant for marketing is to get to the MARKET! There are choices of many venues? And starting at the bottom rung of the ladder is whether you pay for it or get it for FREE and or a combination decision process that gets you to the MARKET!

The marketplace (consumer) will continue to use the YP’s (and their morphed venue) but it can be said and assumed that it is not as strong as it once was?

In today’s market the consumer has many venues to to follow is satisfying a want or need? Now with that said remember the WWW is FREE so use it to your advantage.


litesp33d June 14, 2012 at 8:25 am

I was always told the most important person for YP was the user of the book because if a user found what they were looking for they were more likely to go there again.

The ad size was to influence the user once there. Recently not only have the books and the ads become so small that the print cannot be read especially if you are over 50 presumably the new YP target market, but line entries have been moved to the back of the book. This denies the user the opportunity to find a company they know. Thus making them LESS likely to use the book if the original argument is true. This somewhat proves everything that YP say is BS and should be taken with a massive shovel of salt not just a pinch.


Victor R June 15, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Great post…
We at Able Pool and Spa in El Paso, Texas agree with your take. We feel our money is much better spent with internet content management and quality articles on our website. Our customers enjoy the convenience of finding our contact information as well as product descriptions, etc.
I am actually going to be posting more information about fiberglass swimming pools (we offer the Leisure Pools), spas and hot tubs (we offer Maax Spas), and our play sets (we offer Rainbow Play Systems) on our blog.
Your background working with swimming pools is how we originally “found” you. Keep up the good work.


Mike Stewart June 19, 2012 at 9:36 am

I love reading the old 2010 comments from Andy Shane. He is just doing his job. I like to think of him as the Guy Kawasaki of SuperCrooks. errrr. I mean the http://www.YellowCrooks.com

Don’t believe any of the stats you read from the incumbent publishers (like former Verizon YP.) I was a media consultant for that organization for almost a decade of my smb advertising career. If you think about the way the company was spun off, went bankrupt and used its power and influence to send thousands of smbs into debt, would you want to do business with that sort of company? SuperMedia is declining 20% year over year, since Andy Shane’s comments in 2010. That is about equal to the year over year decline of the printed yellow pages. Back in 2005 Superpages.com had 25% of the local search share and today they represent less than 5%.

A few weeks ago Google changed Google’s local places listings to the (fairly) new Google+ Pages. This will ensure that going forward the local smbs that use a content marketing strategy (don’t ever believe that a big YP publisher and the supporting legal department will ever create or market real content on behalf of a customer) to build online authority. Have you ever seen a first page of google result for the yellow pages companies for searches like “small business advertising dallas” or anything other than “sleazy sales tactics?”

Andy is a good guy. He just happens to work at a company that was owned and operated by Satan. You know, big fat cat executives and folks that run hedge funds. Don’t think the local sales management at SuperMedia is any different! They are still run by crony old managers that are mostly hacks and never seem to get fired. The sales reps that had talent are long gone. The new process is hire the masses and then fire their asses.

If you really want to know how bad a decision it is to advertise in the yellow pages, you only need to look at the decline of advertisers in the book.


Matt Lopez June 28, 2012 at 5:30 pm
Donald July 5, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Gentlemen, thank you so much for the insightful information. I gained so much understanding for where YP really is. :)


Matt Lopez July 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm

If you want to see just exactly how much the Yellow Pages is now being used check this out http://internetmarketingsacramentoreachlocal.wordpress.com/


Bystander July 10, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Thanks for the article. I thought it added no content other than your opinion. Saying that PYP is a complete waste of money is a little over stating. As a small business owner, I advertise in the Yellowpages in addition to paying for display ads on Google. To say that PYP adds no value and has no place in today’s economy is irresponsible and misleading.


Matt Lopez July 10, 2012 at 5:40 pm
Matt Bazzell July 20, 2012 at 11:59 am

I started using yp.com online and pay over $300.00 a month. In the past 4 months I have had 4 phone calls and I converted them to sales. I do carpet cleaning and each job was worth around $125.00 * 4 = $500.00. So I spent $1,200. dollars for 4 new customers. Typically people clean carpets once every year or two. So if I keep these customers for life and drop yp.com at the end of my contract I will make out good!!!. Lol

If something changes before I drop them I will post again but I will not hold my breath. Thanks for the Free blog and I found It by typing does yellow pages work? Apparently the people from yellow pages have concerns also because they found the free blog also.


Michael September 19, 2012 at 3:13 am

I am now in my 3rd year of advertising with the Yellow Pages. The first year they made such a mess of my advert that they had to refund me my money back. I did pick up a little work from it but it was small. For the second year I increased the advert size and the advert went to print perfect. However my return was minus 80%. For the 3rd year I placed 2 adverts and increased the size by 33%. The ads have been running for 3 months now and my return to date is minus 100%.

I wish I had a time machine (don’t we all) so I could go back in time and give the money to charity instead. I feel so guilty that instead of using my money to help reduce starvation and child poverty around the world I ended up watching it vanish before my very eyes in the most spectacular magicians trick ever performed.


Matt Bazzell August 13, 2012 at 8:43 pm

I just wanted a you tube video on my advertisement to help boost my phone calls. You would think this was something simple for yp.com but after trying to contact my rep I gave up and called customer service. They contacted tech support and gave me a email address to send my video and this is what they said:
Dear Matthew,
I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause but we do not add youtube videos to listings. You may speak to your sales rep about video options, but we cannot add a youtube video to your listing.

Matthew: I did and they told me to email the link to you.


I apologize, but we cannot add a video to a listing without having a video item in our system. Your rep would need to add a Self Submit Video in order for us to add this video.

So your telling the reps from your company do not understand that they need to do a self submit for my video to work? I was on the phone with tech support the other day for 1 hr and this was the directions they came up with? I can call again but from a customer satisfaction point of view its not their yet…

and I spoke with Eva on 8/06/12 Because I have not herd back from my normal rep since 7/2 and 7/27. I guess reps just make that kind of money that their on month long vacations.

Thanks for the advice!!!

Looks like this blog is on to something, not just the fact that my phone does not ring but poor customer service. I will post again with his response.


Dallas SEO Guru August 13, 2012 at 10:03 pm

http://yellowcrooks.com is my website. I bought the domain on Oct 5 2009 when i left the yellow pages at Idearc SuperMedia. I got the idea from some Bozo CEO who claimed his favorite rep made 80 visits a day. All the YP reps seemed to lie about contacts per day. Juat like the CEO lied about the state of the company and the bankruptcy.

If you believe call counts from the yellow pages don’t.

Word is All (almost) those happy customers in the supermedia YouTube videos got thousands worth of free advertising to participate.

They are corporate from top to bottom. They don’t care and even outsource to OrangeSoda and Web.com.

At this point reachlocal is a better option, if you cant afford my minimums of course :-) atleast ReachCast and ClubLocal are well planned and funded. SuperPages is dying and has to buy ComScore visitors to stay relevent


Dan Ona August 31, 2012 at 10:49 pm

I have an exclusive new innovative technology that guarantees front page placement on Google, Bing & Yahoo with no up front cost. This is Internet advertisings slice of bread. YP has nothing on this. Even he cost has no comparison. Check out the info video.


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Hugo Coronado September 3, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Obviously my friend, your lack of information, blindfolded sight and your anger against something you don’t even understand (only the poor fact that you have had to pay your bills to your local YP Company) makes you utter these rounds of stupidities about and Advertising Tool. “What?? An Advertising Tool??? Are you Crazy???” I can hear you screaming that, my friend.

Yep, just like the newspaper, the radio, the TV, the COLOR TV, then the Yellow Pages, and now, your new toy: The Internet, ALL MEDIA subsist because they’re all simply ADVETISING TOOLS. When the radio came in, all the ignorant people said: The Newspaper industry is DEAD!!, When the TV came in, the same ignorant people said: The radio is DEAD!!, and then the COLOR TV came in, and guess what all the ignorant people said???? ALL the other media is DEAD!! Sounds familiar??

If you my friend, are a carpenter and you hit yourself with the hammer, that’s your problem, you can NOT blame the hammer or its makers, is your lack of information and skills what pictures your disgrace, not the Yellow Pages!!!

If you can’t handle the game of YP advertising, must likely sure you will be NOT able to handle your new toy: The internet, which it gets more and more complicated (and expensive) by the MINUTE to handle and profit from it.

You want to switch to the new fashion on advertising? That is OK, but don’t make a fool of yourself saying “The hammer did hit my hand, OMG!, what a stupid hammer” You sound terribly ignorant and pathetic my friend.


joe underwood September 3, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Might have been literal that it has been said that the YP’s are dead but I do believe that it was intended to mean there is a New Kid on the block? And in addition that the YP’s have been charging a price level that needs to be reduced? Not that we do away with their place in the scope of media exposure?

Still a point that needs more attention is how the local consumer is able to get to the local SMB and how in turn can the local SMB get to the local consumer for either FREE or at a price point that produces a true measurement of ROI?

But you are dead on with regards to the complication path that is not easily navigated with regards to the WWW/Net? The cost issue can be mitigated but there again a new level of knowledge is required for the SMB?

Area Code Shopper


Matt September 10, 2012 at 11:15 pm

I was just looking at advertising on yellow pages for my advertising photographers business in Dallas. I’m glad I found this article first. I didn’t even know you pay for that service?


Anna November 16, 2012 at 12:54 am

Really bad bad advice coming from someone who has been in the business for 13 years. Sounds like u are a descruntal employee. It’s unfortunate. I have sucessfull businesses that continue to see a roi. However this definately depends on the demographics.


Bill December 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm

LOL! “I could name about 50, but here’s 4″ . You completely neglected your title, which promised 11 reasons.


james December 20, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Here is a funny a super funny video about being the last person advertising in the yellow pages.


I hope you all like it :)


Jeff B December 21, 2012 at 11:24 am

I’ve used yp.com & print. it was for my plumbing business. at the time, i wasn’t sure which would do better- print or click. (ignoring the fact that i haven’t seen the inside of a pyp since 2001)… maybe I’m just strange??? NOT. Every time someone called the add, I would ask “how did you find me”. then enter their info in my database as either a ‘P’ (print) or ‘W’ (web). by the way: it was $25 per call for the advertising. ACK! and here’s the results:


the one that called off print? she’s 82 years old & doesn’t own a computer or smart phone.

of these, only 2 turned into ACTUAL clients (others were just cheap skates looking for free labor). the others didn’t even opt for a service call, just wanted pricing. (looky-Lu)

here’s MORE irony for ya: I continue to get calls- not because of the add- it’s turned off. but because google searches show up my 5 star rating on yp.com. google (who… I’ve spent NOTHING on AT ALL- has netted me 4 customers in 6 months what yp.com couldn’t net me in one year. what’s more- getting those 2 customers? cost me $150.00.


Jerald January 17, 2013 at 8:13 pm

I think you make a valid argument however I don’t think you’re taking into consideration that different businesses target different demographics. 75% of the wealth in our country belong to baby boomers and older. Among that group a very small percentage has patience to filter through the Internet to find what they need let alone even have the ability to check their email. So where do they turn if a pipe is leaking and they need a plumber immediately. Guarantee it will be the phone book. Pizza heading gets around 20-60,000 calls a year depending on market size from the yellow pages and 90% make a purchase. People that use the book do less research or shopping they are actively buying. I am a firm believer of the Internet but most businesses have no clue what works, who to trust, or how much it’s worth. The yellow pages are more cost effect for attorneys when the keyword prices are in heavens for attorneys. I am not pitting print against Internet. Never!! However working in conjunction with one another and a small business and not only dominate locally but he will be able to be found in more places were consumers are seeking information.


joe underwood January 18, 2013 at 10:40 am


Enjoyed your post. Maybe not today (but in the future) the need for any service and or product will as easy as “911″? I happen to be one who has reduced YP display but not dumb enough to think that it is not a factor with some.

Interesting in that we all are talking about communication links and the future is going to be back to the hand held device whos’ original use was limited by that cord.

joe underwood
Area Code Shopper


Shaun February 11, 2013 at 1:47 am

Unfortunately, print advertising is slowly dying and so I have been looking for any type of classified sites that allow advertising, my advice found that http://www.boostasite.com that allows free business advertising, most of your followers will find it good for start ups.


phil February 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm

the yellow pages (print) can work for demand types of businesses, like emergency types of thing.
however that is dying, as the younger generation grows up, they won’t be using the yellow pages (print) anymore.

so unless yellow pages online can maintain a top space in the search results, they will die too.

and now they have lots of competition.
Even google themselves, with their places listing.

also with the yellow pages (super media, or what ever you call yourself) is managing ppc ads for their clients, well i do that too and every time I audit an account I see tons of waste. And lots of that waste in intentional to get the client to spend more money. You should be ashamed of yourselves!

You can come up with your reports all you want.
Reports and surveys are misleading. You can get what every you want with your surveys.


joe underwood February 12, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Phil, Clear Thread! Just one small addition for thought and implementation? The future of any search using an engine/directory/platform/social is going to become very crowed with images/color, ad’s, etc. So, the 911 mentality of the consumer will dictate the search paths which may or may not include the WWW, Print, TV, Radio or what will be left of the YP’s. This is entire subject is a round table discussion? Hope you agree??



Shelly Fox February 12, 2013 at 5:37 pm

I just had to comment on this string!

Hello, my name is Shelly and I am a Phone Book user!!

I am a 36 year old female. I own an iPhone 4S, iMac and Kindle Fire. I use a phone book several times a week. Of course I do searches as well, but it depends on the situation. I also believe it depends on the community you live in.

My job title is Multi-Media Marketing Consultant. Although I don’t believe that Superpages is the way to go, I do agree with the concept of a well rounded marketing plan for SMBs in our community. We produce a phone book, newspaper, magazine and several niche print products. We also sell digital display advertising on our website and mobile site and our company has partnered with Yahoo!, Google and over 250 of the most popular sites across the web. We design liquid websites, manage social media, monitor our clients reputation across the web, provide SEO & SEM, Print & Deliver, Novelty items, trade shows, tracking and more! BUT, not every product is right for every client!! We live in a community where “older” folks and Amish are more than half our population, so the e-Marketing services we provide are only going to help reach 1/2 our community… the Phone book picks up where the web leaves off.

By no means are yellow pages DEAD! We produce two phone books every year that cover four counties in our area. Residing on the state line, we are ONLY book that crosses state lines and provide comprehensive listings to our users. At any trade show event, the phone book is the #1 item taken from our booth. You see, “older” folks don’t like computers, especially MEN over 40. I hear it more often than not, that they won’t touch it! The older the clientele, the more important phone book advertising is. And if you aren’t familiar with the Amish religion, they don’t believe in plumbing or curtains or deodorant, let alone computers!! And I say phone book instead of Yellow Pages, because people seem to forget the WHITE PAGES!!! People may be searching more and more online for goods and services, but have you tried looking up a regular ole person lately? Most of the time the results aren’t found or you have to pay to see the information you are looking for. That’s where the premium locations come in, and yes, cost a little more. It’s that Top of Mind Awareness!! I’m not sure about $24,000 or the chick who said she paid $90K in a year!! WOW!! Our most expensive cover space is $6500, on the rate card! There’s another key! Rate Card!!!!! We don’t charge certain types of businesses or locations more than others. We have a rate card that is the same for every client.

The other reason the phone book is still a viable means of marketing in our area is internet/phone service. At my house, I can look up 10 numbers in the phone book before google even loads! We are an agricultural community. Like many small, laid back communities the internet is not always the best answer for us.

We distribute 60,000 books in four counties. Lets say, for arguments sake, that only 1/4 of those books get used. That is still 15K potential customers that our clients would be missing out on if they were to drop their display advert!! That’s a LOT of people! In this economy, even 10% would be beneficial. So lets say it is 90% internet and 10% PYP… I’ve always been taught not to leave any money on the table! So, it makes the most sense to tailor a package to the CLIENTS needs. One that includes a little bit of both worlds AND fits the unique budget of every client! Some one made a comment above that we are a global economy, and a biz owner shouldn’t limit themselves to their immediate area… Well that’s great if you’re retail or a Real Estate Agent… but my stylist isn’t crossing the country foil your hair, my plumber isn’t going to the UK to unplug your toilet and my HVAC guy isn’t going to travel out of his 40 mile radius even to sell you his most expensive Central Vac system. And, I tried to order a pizza online from pizza hut a couple weeks ago… Their full menu wasn’t available, I couldn’t enter my coupon code and they said my address didn’t exists!

I fully believe that online is important!! Don’t get me wrong! I love being able to ask Siri what movies are playing (or anything else I can think of cuz she’s frickin awesome) but it’s not always the BEST option, the quickest option and most definitely NOT the only option!!

For those of you who have had success one way or the other… great! But no one should put all their eggs in one basket. Why exclude any potential customer or hand business over to your competitor? It’s true that it’s difficult, even with tracking in place, to know whether or not people are going to find you in the book… but one thing is for certain… If you aren’t there, your customers will call the next in line!!


Ted February 14, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Argue, debate, whatever….. fact is the print YP’s are dying and will continue to die (think typewriter). Yes, much slower in rural communities and pockets like the Amish but death is imminent as the older population makes way for the younger.

Yeah they are online and still gouge their customers. Just check the forums. I was reviewing some of the their youtube videos they have up for their customers and its blatently obvious they don’t care about optimizing the video for the customer. It’s optimized for the YP.com and their channel.

The fact that they went online with their “old” pricing structure riding their customers “internet marketing ignorance” and not delivering good solid optimization and marketing support tells me their focus is on themselves, not their customer.

So again, say what positive comments you can salvage up, but the fact is they are dying and have not learned how to change their old business model into a good respectable online business model. RIP yellow pages!

Plus we need all the trees we can get while Monsanto replaces them with GMO crops! :)


Shelly Fox February 14, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Please careful about lumping all books/companies together!! It sounds as if you’re speaking about yellow book specifically. My company is NOT price gouging anyone! Our pricing is extremely fair and in most cases thousands of dollars less than our competition, print or digital! For example, a website design company locally charges 3x more for a site than we do AND if her customer needs changes/updates to their site, she charges $108/hour!! That is outrageous!!
Furthermore, I do not dispute the use of print books declining. You’re correct in that it is inevitable as technology evolves. My point is that ITS NOT DEAD YET!! Again, I believe a better strategy for SMBs is a well rounded marketing plan that includes print, digital and social! Using the 90/10 assumption from my previous comment, 6,000 potential customers is nothing to sneeze at! If these same SMBs were invited to a trade show where 60,000 were invited, but 6,000 were expected to show, they would still jump at the opportunity to be there! And being that there would potentially be many other businesses there that provide the same services/products, they’d bring their A game and not just hang a banner with their basic info! They would do what they could to separate themselves and stand out amongst their competition! A SMART marketer does EVERYTHING they are able to connect with potential customers!!
I do understand that not every company or sales representative for that matter, has the integrity that we/I have. BIG BOX marketing companies don’t have to have integrity because they don’t have to see their customers. They’re phone solicitors and “door to door” solicitors. Here today, back to the city tomorrow. You’re right, they only care about themselves. We are a small town, local newspaper made marketing consultants. We see our clients at the movies, grocery store, church… We CARE about the success of their business, because their success is OUR success!! I would/could never offer a client a service, print or digital, that I didn’t truly believe would benefit their business. Period!


joe underwood February 14, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Shelly, I like your thread and you obviously are interested in your local image and the service you provide. Here is a point that you might find interesting to try in your partnering marketing path…………..make your fee part of the success that your customer benefits from your effort and expertise. In other words no charge unless what you say will contribute to the success of the local person you see at the store or church?



Ted February 16, 2013 at 12:51 am

Still dying no matter how you sum it up.

The key is will the salesperson learn the digital marketplace and ethically advise their customer or continue to sell 100% “dead” yellow until a savvy internet marketer clearly explains the trends and gains a new customer.

Shelly, I live in a small Walmart town in the bible belt of Georgia with 11k people. I know what you’re saying and I also believe the small towns will be the last to convert. The everybody knows everybody relationships are strong. But I know from my 13 y/o son that his generation is all digital.


Dave Roberts February 21, 2013 at 10:42 am

Folks — Yellow Pages is NOT advertising. It is a directory pure and simple. Even the people who are in the industry call it a directory. Would anyone care to guess the percentage of people who utlized a yellow page ad already knew the name of the company from some OTHER form of media first? The numbers fluctuate but listing the basic information in the white pages so that people can find the contact information of the business is the best way to go. Spend your marketing dollars on getting people to do one of several things.
A. Search for your company on-line (another form of a directory by the way) B. Call your business
C. Visit your business
D. Visit your website
and last but not always least, E. Find the needed information the phone book.

That means, if you’re paying for a YP ad – anything beyond the name of your business, web site, and phone number – YOU ARE WASTING YOUR MONEY. The last time my family and I sat around and cracked open a phone book for some leisurely entertainment was NEVER. If you want to spend money in a directory, fine. If you want to advertise and market your business, use a different media. By the way — if your other media is effecitve, guess what — your YP ad will be visited more often! And, your YP rep will be stopping by to take more credit for better results, and those statistics you’ve seen from the folks who have shared them on this blog will be even higher. Don’t fall for the sales pitch. I respect their wanting to use these stats as justification, but when you pull the curtain back – you can easily understand why the numbers show up this way.


joe underwood February 21, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Dave, really a nice response to the thread about YP’s. One very, very small observation the white pages are the “directory” for sure but the Yellow (portion) Pages are considered Media Display and there is a cost associated with them. Hence most consider that to be advertising…………….not a point to argue about simply because it is such a fine line to define. Again, enjoyed the read!

Area Code Shopper


Rob Turner March 18, 2013 at 4:44 pm

I have to agree with you completely.


Robert March 21, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Its 2013 and the yellow pages are still thriving. 17% increase. New studies out by Market Authourity from February 2013 survey done in tech savvy area between San Francisco and San Jose California show that 64% of the population still use yellow pages. Only people that dont want yellow pages are other media outlets. Follow the money people. 35 year olds and up spend the most money. Are you trying to market to kids or adults.


michael parente March 21, 2013 at 8:25 pm

yep 30 and up spend the money so ask any one older than 30 and younger than 60 how they find a business bet they tell you online (at least 70% in the most rural areas) yellow pages is not thriving in those areas. anyone can do a survey and make it look however they want. yellow pages have been doing that for decades with usage. you want the truth, the facts? ask your friends family and customers what they use. don’t listen to any company trying to sell u a dead dream. do your own investigation and I bet you will see this article is more correct today than the day it was written. fyi my experience is from one of the largest yellow pages to the largest newspaper in the world.


Robert March 21, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Lol your promoting seo. Talk about worthless. Maybe after all the paid advertising we will see your web pages on page two or three but I dont know anyone who goes that far. Pretty sad that search engines arent very fair. One of the problems with yellow pages is people think they can put a dinky line in the book and when nobody calls there mad because they are cheap. A business owner recently told me about 80% of his flyers are thrown out. Hows that for ROI.


Michael Parente March 22, 2013 at 12:19 am

Actually the link to the article I wrote about SEO was added automatically because I didn’t uncheck a box because it didn’t show on my phone. As while that has premise in this conversation it is not the reason behind my stance. My reasoning comes from the hundreds of clients I have and currently work with in regards to full marketing programs. We have placed call tracking numbers in yellow page ads, newspaper ads, radio, television and on the website companies are marketing.

Hands down the website has generated more revenue in some cases 10 fold compared to the other avenues. See I am not about fluff. I am about true results.

You can see fluff and potentially lack of knowledge (at least current knowledge) in marketing by saying SEO is worthless…HAHAHA Man you need to quit telling people you are consulting them if this is what you are saying. YOU ARE WRONG, DEAD WRONG and costing your clients current and future revenue while potentially leading them down a path which will be hard to recover from. Your committing company suicide by not seeing the forest for the trees and your clients will soon see it as well. The internet is not just a fad, and as time goes by it just becomes stronger and stronger both in search and social. So for you to say SEO is worthless I think you are completely out of your league when it comes to “new age” marketing. Though you may be the best yellow page sales man in the world…lol

You actually remind me of a Director of a newspaper at Gannett (maybe you heard of it?) He came in trying to save the print product not wanting to believe the online product is what could save or decrease losses (simply because he was a 50 year old man with no knowledge himself of the internet). When he made the transition, the company went from being even (online dollars were covering the 10-20% print decline) to -25%+ because the focus was no longer on anything but print (needless to say he got fired). I hope this makes sense to you. I am not promoting anything but giving facts on what is happening in the real world and a lot of companies guided by the wrong information are the companies that are losing market share and revenue day after day to the competition.

With that being said. If you look at articles I have written you will see I am not 100% against any advertising if you can afford it (except maybe the radio). However if you cant afford a full page ad in the yellow pages $60k a year you say (which if that company put 60k only in yellow pages and 60k into internet I can promise if it is done right that company will generate a lot more revenue from their advertising online and be able to increase to other markets for that same dollar, if not less) than being 3-6 pages back in a heading like dentist, attorney, plumbing contactors is just as big a waste of money as being page 6 on Google, Yahoo & Bing.

You need to be in the yellowpages not a bln (bold listing) but you don’t need a full page either. A real consultant would look how the book is laid out and give advice on how the client could maximize their potential while reducing their risk if the yellow pages doesn’t work. The unethical sales person would try to sell a double truck and tell someone that is what they need.

If we are gonna compare apples to apples you need to compare ad spend to ad spend IMHO.


Robert March 22, 2013 at 1:13 am

One of them trees must have fallen over when you were in the forrest and hit you in the head. I never said anything about spending 60k in yellow page advertising. 60k would be your cost to publish your own 1 page ad on your own. Unless you plan on delivering them door to door yourself. I said $100 a month thats far from unethical.

And you know darn well that you have to scroll half way down google page to get to the first optimized page. 3 top advertisers than google + before legimate search result. You are lucky to get 4 legitimate websites to compare. Which leads me to my next point. Anybody can have a website. Trust in a business and product weigh heavy on a consumers mind. And what about instant gratification. This is why consumers havnt gone all cyborg when it comes to shopping. There is definitely some advertisers that will do better than others. Like the companies that fix computers. They advertise in yellow pages because when your computer breaks how are you gonna find them? And internet advertising alone is not enough. As a good amount of people go to the internet following yellow pages.

And BLNs don’t tell a consumer why they should call that business. No matter how built up a heading is.

When the internet is delivered to homes for free than maybe it will kill yellow pages until than you must use multiple advertising channels.


Michael Parente March 22, 2013 at 1:30 am

Yep It must of because I read it wrong. Though it makes sense 60k a year for a full page, processed ad in a 300k distribution market (when I was at RH Donnelly it cost $2500/mo full page ad in a population of 140k). $100/mo is what a 1 and a 1/2 inch ad with a logo if they are lucky? Once again depends on the service and in that case biz name as well as the heading development.

I know BLNs don’t give any information that’s why I said and not a BLN or a full page ad.

You are correct anybody can have a website. But I guess I am missing your point here, because anyone can advertise in the yellow pages as well?

You may want to research before saying customers haven’t gone cyborg with online shopping. Fact is online shopping is like the internet growing larger every year: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/investing/2012/analysis-black-friday-cyber-monday-break-records-online-sales-explode-traditional-retailers-compete-ecommerce/

I agree with computer repair. Like I mentioned there are factors to consider before deciding what will and wont work for the client. We have attorneys that are generating more calls online in a month than their full page ad in the book generated in a whole year, that has got to be kept in mind.

I have to disagree with you in scrolling half way down. Maybe more noticeable on a national level but if you look for a local SEO campaign e.g. {service} in {city} there are usually no more than 3 adwords above the organic listings.

But no point in going back and forth. You obviously have your thoughts and I have mine. Maybe we talk again in another year and see who’s clients are still in business :)


Robert March 22, 2013 at 1:26 am

You must have read the part about Pennysaver and thought I said yellow pages. Never said every business needs a full page or double truck.


Robert March 21, 2013 at 11:12 pm

My friends in their 40s are afraid of viruses and dont use smart phones. I know people that dont watch TV either. Have you ever tasted something you thought was disgusting. Not everyone thinks that certain item is disgusting. I used to ask people how they found me (around the time this blog was written) people said sign and yellow pages. When someone refers you to something do they tell you the phone number too. I recently learned that a full page ad in penny saver was $2000.00 for one delivery. I had forgotten all about that form of media. Do you have a drawer full of these ads. A new business I am working as a consultant for is paying $50 a day in pay per click on google thats $350 a week and the $50 is used up before yhe day ends. The yellow pages are there 24 hours a day 365 days. To send a 1 page advertisement to everyone in a region of 300, 000 homes and businesses would cost you $60, 000 no survey needed for that. I know how $100 a month can get you two display ads two internet references and mobile marketing. This breaks down to $25 per ad per month. Nobody to my knowledge has come into the business I referred to earlier as of yet from Google. Which incidently has become overun with advertising. But nobodys complaining about that. Let me ask you a question. Whens the last time you bought something from your hometown online? I can understand ones hatred towards yellow pages if they sell a different media channel. I think the best way to advertise is through diversity. If you can afford television to brand yourself great but small businesses usually cannot. Radio is another media choice but also expensive. I know the SBA Small Business Association isnt giving you a loan unless you invest in yellow page advertising. People deserve to know the truth and bashing something doesn’t make you right.


Michael Parente March 22, 2013 at 12:55 am

(Robert) My friends in their 40s are afraid of viruses and dont use smart phones. I know people that dont watch TV either. Have you ever tasted something you thought was disgusting. Not everyone thinks that certain item is disgusting. I used to ask people how they found me (around the time this blog was written) people said sign and yellow pages:

(Answer) Seems kind of strange but I have heard a person or two say they don’t use the internet. However 8 out of 10 people I have talked to (30, 40, 50, 60 year olds) have said they don’t use the yellow pages they use their computer or smart phone. This is in a smaller community of less than 100k. In the community I grew up (Los Angeles) that number is closer to 10 out of 10.

(Robert) When someone refers you to something do they tell you the phone number too. I recently learned that a full page ad in penny saver was $2000.00 for one delivery. I had forgotten all about that form of media. Do you have a drawer full of these ads.

(Answer) I sure do not have any of the print cluttering my house. I throw away the yellow pages and I do not have the newspaper delivered. If I get junk mail I throw it into the trash without looking. The only piece I may read (if we are looking for buy one get one free coupons at restaurants is Valpak). I am sure that has to do with my age of 36 though right? Oh wait my mom at 57 does the same thing.

(Robert) A new business I am working as a consultant for is paying $50 a day in pay per click on google thats $350 a week and the $50 is used up before yhe day ends. The yellow pages are there 24 hours a day 365 days. To send a 1 page advertisement to everyone in a region of 300, 000 homes and businesses would cost you $60, 000 no survey needed for that.

(Answer) Well your right no survey needed to realize you are spending 3x+ more in YP than you are on the internet which is not only in everyone’s home 24-7 but also in their cars, pockets and purses. The internet also reaches people out of town looking for the information who probably has no access to the local yellow pages (please don’t try to sell us they will use the yellow page web directory…people wont, they go to Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp etc.). If you want to do a true test try spending $165 a day online, than match it with the yellow page ad. No survey needed to realize if you do this correctly your customer will not only reach local customers but out of town customers. FYI. We have a divorce attorney who has gotten calls and new clients from Vegas, New York even Germany because they needed to finalize a divorce within their domicile. Guess where these new customers didn’t come from? Yep, the yellow pages.

(Robert) Let me ask you a question. Whens the last time you bought something from your hometown online?

(Answer) Actually when I bought my new tv just a few weeks back. I was able to do some price shopping and than I went into the store and got it. Heres a better question to ask me since this article is about Yellow Pages not Google. When was the last time I used the yellow pages to buy something locally? I truly can’t recall. It has been years since I have even opened one (unless I was showing a client where they should place their ad to maximize their potential and reduce their risk), however as far as opening one to call and purchase something? You got me there because I cannot remember, its been years!

(Robert) I think the best way to advertise is through diversity. If you can afford television to brand yourself great but small businesses usually cannot. Radio is another media choice but also expensive.

(Answer) Finally, we agree. I do agree that diversity is absolutely the best way. Track all your advertising. Make sure the advertising is working for you, not for the company and sales rep who is selling it. I do disagree about radio though. We have done several tests on radio and I think (at least in this market) it is a dead duck.

(Robert) People deserve to know the truth and bashing something doesn’t make you right.

(Answer) People do deserve to know the truth, and I stand behind everything I say. I am not just a 16 year old kid. I am 36 years old and have been in the marketing field since I was 18. I have worked for some of the largest companies in the US. I have lots of friends who are directors at yellow pages, newspapers, tv stations etc. Bashing something never makes you right and can make you look ridiculous and even moronic in some cases, however giving facts and not fluff will help customers make the right decisions. Truth be told, there are a lot of things to consider before making an ad buy including; service areas, usage, demographics and allocated dollars to name a few. Without knowing what the customer is trying to accomplish or what market they service, no one could say yellow pages doesn’t work, SEO is a waste etc. Every product and service has it’s best way of being marketed to maximize ROI. All I am saying is, the clients we have worked with get a less ROI from YP than other avenues and a lot less than they did 5 years ago.

If you can diversify, you need to do it. Every business owner should take some marketing classes and have a explanation from their marketing company why or why not advertise in a specific place. There are good and bad in all marketing forums (some of them the bad just weighs out the good and is getting worse).

I tried to answer all your comment as clear as I could :)


Robert March 22, 2013 at 1:20 am

Thats where your wrong internet is not in everyones home you assume that judt like you assume nobody uses yellow pages because you don’t. If you don’t eat beats does that mean nobody eats them.


Michael Parente March 22, 2013 at 1:33 am

Yellow pages are not in everyones home either, most people throw it out to get rid of clutter ;) I GUARANTEE the internet is in more homes (one form or the other cell phone, tablet, computer etc) than the yellow pages are. Especially in the market you quoted SF, ca


Robert March 22, 2013 at 2:04 am

I seen Market Authorities report like I said earlier San Francisco to San Jose 64% still use yellow pages. No worries 36% still use internetthats a big chunk of the market. The city officials of San Francisco got rejected by the courts. Just like in Seattle.


joe underwood March 22, 2013 at 10:39 am

Michael & Robert…..Robert & Michael,

Interesting thread! Noteably that you both sided with “diversity”? I grab on to the “….last time you bought something from your hometown online?” And, “…..last time I used YP’s to buy…..?
With that, my question, “Husband and Wife sitting at their breakfast table talking about the purchase of a new breakfast set, how can the local merchant create a path for the consumer to follow?” Really have another question, “If the local consumer can shop for a need and the cost of doing so is FREE then how can the local Merchant/Distributor also provide a path for Point of Sale for FREE? (At least cheaper than, TV,Radio,SEO,YP’s,ValPak,etc.)
Thank you for the thread, gentlemen.
joe underwood


Michael Parente March 22, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Hey Joe,

I like how you said Michael & Robert,….Robert & Michael :)

I don’t think there is a precise way for a local business to ensure a potential becomes a customer of a local merchant without some form of advertising, to create interest, knowledge and recognition. I think it all depends on the business. Sure there are great ways to make sure once you generate a new customer you can keep that customer and have a wonderful opportunity of having that customer refer people to you at little to no cost with a referral based marketing aspect. The problem most small businesses have is cost restraints. Small business owners forget, or maybe don’t even know that you cant just open a business and people flood your shop. To make money it always takes money. As a business owner you need to know going in there are more expenses than just the tools you need on your truck, the products you stock on your shelves and the rent and utilities for your store front (if needed). You need to create customer awareness.

It depends on the company whether your focus should be on 911, 411, Brand and or impulse marketing (all three if you can afford it, especially if you are just opening a business). There are ways to ensure you have all encompassed however that wont happen for free. This is why diversifying your advertising is the best way to maximize your ROI. Buy, track, review and start the process over again until you are only spending money in places that you are making money.

Your marketing program should embrace all aspects and they all have their place in this world and while the platforms might change the basics are always the same. The problem is, as we are all aware the cost of doing business.

Customers want information, need information and are a lot more savvy than even a few years back. Customers can now research products, services, and get past customer reviews all from the comfort of their home.

The “new” customer doesn’t have to get dressed, waste gas and drive all around town wasting their whole day doing research going from store to store. They can grab a cup of coffee (or not), sit down in the comfort of their home and find all the information they need all while in the nude if they prefer…lol


joe underwood March 22, 2013 at 10:41 am

A side bar………………..Marketing, is it 911, 411, Brand and or Impluse?

joe underwood


Debbie April 5, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Does is depend on how large the town is? I just moved from the country where I had a small computer business in my home to a small city and another home office. Most of my work comes from yellow pages or word of mouth. I am on google – First Computer Service in South Haven, MI. But do not know how to advertise on the internet. I filled out a few webpages in the last week, Facebook (which won’t let me change my old address in one area), Manta ?, Yellowpages.com?, called Yellowbook today to change my address in their free listing yellowpages as it comes out in June and I only have a cell phone now so no more Verizon yellowpages listing like before but Yellowbook does cellphones.


Shelly Fox April 13, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Welcome to Southwest Michigan! Absolutely buy that Domain name! I’m a little more than an hour away from you. I would love to meet up and help you with a marketing strategy. There are many things you can do for free, on your own that will help you get started. There is no fee or obligation for with our consulting services. If I have any solutions that fit your needs, great! Otherwise, it’s useful information for you to use to grow your business. Feel free to look into my linkdIn profile, and contact me if you would like some help. *Tip: there are more than 250 directory & review sites on the web. I can help you to submit your listing to ALL of them at once. :)


craig April 5, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Debbie…..immediately buy……southhavencomputer.com
It is your exact search term, and it’s available! Do it NOW.
Put up a site, seo it and away you go….(do not hesitate)


joe underwood April 5, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Debbie, you are on the right track in listing where you have listed! My suggestion is to look for all the FREE Directories, Search Engines, etc. on the WWW. There are over 1500 (some really good and some not). Forget about getting on all it is a full time job getting listed and then time for staying up to date. When you say “Computer Business” it is important to use the most common Keyword that you think the Local Consumer might use (and that is a difficult task to guess??) If you have a Smart Phone just use the GPS or Search feature and say “Computer” and see what comes up. What is cool is that each features goes local by GPS positioning. Have fun.

Titan Fence, Inc.
Area Code Shopper


Jason April 12, 2013 at 1:47 am

The article is very accurate on ROI. We listened to the rep thinking the phone would ring all day long with new business, especially buying larger ads. The $1500/month bill was a struggle and was one of the reason to close. Three month after closing I was contacted by YellowBook stating the contract contained a personal liability…I am now personally responsible for $15,000 of advertising that didn’t work. I am being sued by yellowbook for a judgement to wage garnishment, bank account levy, and lien on assets. It’s not worth the business and personal risk!!! Be wise and take advice of this article and my experience.


John April 12, 2013 at 8:39 am

Guess what…if you purchased a 15k dollar guitar on credit and didnt make it as a rock star…then guess what…you still have to pay for it…phone book advertisisng is only a compnent to your marketing campaign…You need a lesson in how to run a business or perhaps you were created to be an employee rather than a business owner


Jason April 12, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Even employees are being sued!!! Employee or business owner does not matter to yellow book. Since they are sinking they will sue whoever they can. Last year they sued multiple employees who did not have any ownership the company that advertised. Here’s one example of many
http://blog.timesunion.com/advocate/yellowbook-lawsuit-a-stretch-at-best/3717/ definitely a sign they are desperate. In fact yellowbook is owned by Hibu who are being sued by their own creditors.


Jason April 20, 2013 at 2:47 am

I would purchase a 15k guitar when promised I could get X amount of records sold and could use the money to pay back the debt and pocket the rest as profit. This is what YellowBook does…and yes its an agenda because I want everyone to know what they are getting into when they sign. And you don’t have to be created to be a business owner for yellowbook to sue you. They go after employees that sign even if they are not with the company any more:


This is a red flag and a sign of how desperate they are in their failing industry. Mr. John if you such a strong supporter of this print industry would you be willing to invest in these companies? I doubt it, look up their ticker symbols and you will see the decline in revenues year over year. I bet you would keep your money secure and invest in google.


John April 12, 2013 at 8:30 am

Unlike you pitiful little internet nerds, we track our call from the phonebook giving the customer EXACTLY how many new callers contacted the business from the display ad. The numbers are incredible. Remember, my company sell yellow pages, internet optimization, websites, video, and Apps for Iphone/Android/HTML5… So quit hating little nerds and get your head out of your A$$ because your limited knowledge is evident to any company that handles a variety of advertising products


Jason April 12, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Yes nerds expand your knowledge! Wish I saw this site before advertising. Fortunately this site is very high in google rankings and potential advertisers will “expand their limited knowledge” of yellow pages.


Robert April 12, 2013 at 10:43 pm

While were promoting websites might as well throw another out there http://www.myyp.com wasn’t television supposed to kill the radio? And wasnt the microwave supposed to kill the oven? Internet wont kill print. Small businesses are trending toward internet but that doesny mean consumers are. Internet searches are convoluted and getting worse while yhe search engine hosts get richer. I have no problem with businesses picking the marketing channels they feel most comfortable with. The problem is of an etical nature. Dont lie about something just to advance your agenda. It would be rediculos to say everyone does one thing over the other. It comes down to ROI. With the internet click throughs measure traffic but how many are accidental, purposely done as a charge against and how many because of intent for purchase and not just research. Yello pages on the other hand only can track actual phone calles so theres no telling how many people looked at the ad and decided noy to call. As an advertiser all I want is the phone calls anyway. This furthers the truth that print advertising is gone to when consumers need the product or service. Not all businesses are created equal some dont need to advertise. These are the lazy business owners who dont give a crap about any new customers walking in the door. Other businesses just have the gortune of having a product or service thats in demand and is in a high traffic area. But for those businesses that need a competitive advantage to survive they need print because its more cost effective and they can compete in an arena that gives them a soap box to stand on and explain why you should choose them. I wouldn’t be surprised if this blog was simply created by someone who did seo and do to downsizing and lost IT budget lost their job and is jealous of print ads. Especially since print has also gone online and is optimizing companies websites automatically now. I wouldbe bent too.


michael parente April 12, 2013 at 10:55 pm

lol. are u serious or just a yellowpage rep? facts are simple. people do not use yellowpages like they once did. seo can actually be more cost effective than any yellowpage ad. it also doesn’t just reach people at home (where yellow page usage is down by the way) but everywhere. i can give u a list of clients that don’t even spend in the yellowpages anymore and have had their best years. while im not saying print is dead it is on life support and the yellowpage companies couldnt optimize their sites first page in a search engine full of only their site. i have seen it. i myself have a lot of years in print advertising and have worked for some of the largest companies in the usa.I’m not gonna argue w u though because its hard to have an argument with someone who uses no facts and base their information in fantasy lanf.


Robert April 12, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Ok so your bitter from your print breakup http://www.marketauthority.com theres your stats. Yellow pages are online and on mobile phones. As well as in search results via search engines. Its pretty sad that you cant put a website online and advertise alone that you must optimize it. Search engines change the rules all the time. The reason I dont like search engines is because the results that come back are not what they used to be they fill the page with paid advertising which is their right. Than your lucky to get 3 unique websites. I dont want yelp, citysearch, manta and yellow pages showing up I want the direct website of the company im looking for.


michael parente April 13, 2013 at 12:25 am

no bitter break up actually I’ve been offered 6 figure salaries to join 2 different companies one yellow pages and one newspaper (those are both print by the way) because I know or have worked for the directors or publishers at the respective companies. so can’t use that. I dare someone to show me 10 people that don’t have internet access (home, cell etc) bet you can’t find them (at least on the west coast). than I dare you to find 10 people who actually use the yellow pages on a monthly basis. statistics and sites who offer
ple who say they use yp.com, superpages etc. if you ask someone if they use the internet the say yes, you ask what they use for search and maybe 1 out of 100 will say the local yellowpages online. thats because everyone else will say google yahoo or bing.

don’t get me started on mobile apps for yellowpages….lmao no one downloads those….oh wait the sales reps do to try to sell the consumer on buying a program that will also show their results on their useless app.

can’t pull the wool over my eyes. thanks to this blog by Marcus you’re going to have a hard time pulling it over your customers eyes too.

what did you search to find this story? did you go to the yellowpages or their app? exactly, you searched like everyone else does….google yahoo or bing. so if you found this blog and are chatting on it I suppose you understand the value of internet and the diminished value print products offer :)


Dan April 13, 2013 at 1:44 am

Excellent point Michael! Pro-print advertisers hate to see this blog show up because they googled “yellow pages” and find the site showed on first page search results. Yellow page print ads don’t work anymore last year I had a distribution of 1 million and got maybe 10 cslls a day with half just price shopping, you cant change the ad until next year if its not performing and the cost is way too high with the zero flexibility after print. The Internet however is much more productive and can target your ads precisely with instant modification to the campaign at anytime. Print ads are still usefull… I use them to start my fire pit and light the charcoal chimney.


Robert April 13, 2013 at 2:24 am

That’s pretty good 1/2 price shopping and 1/2 buying. You must be a great salesperson. 50% close ratio is really good. Just think if you did a better job on the phone to get them into the next step. I take it the millions that find you on the Internet don’t call for price at all. I got jokes too. You do know that once they call you, you control the price, so if they called you than the ad worked. If they didn’t call than I would be worried. The ad is there to grab the shoppers attention and get them to call its your responsibility to get them to buy.


Robert April 13, 2013 at 2:11 am

I searched where can I find a phone book. Which just goes to show how lousy search engines work. Even when I clicked on this blog I was expecting to see a list of 11 things. So are you Marcus or Michael or skitzo? When you have your head up the sheeps backside the wool is already been pulled. Blogs are perfect example of why you cannot trust the Internet and why. Who you gonna believe someone bitter with an agenda or someone who told there boss they were quitting because the industry was dying. Yea I’m sure that’s the way it went down. The bottom line is when a consumer is ready to make a purchase some will use exclusively one source over others to find the business they need. If I am a dentist and 60,000 people are looking for a dentist via a book and 120,000 are looking online do I not want the 60,000. I’m sorry mr and mrs consumer I don’t want your business.

I’m not saying having a website is a bad thing. Especially if you can profit from it. Problem is most people don’t profit from a website it just gives their small business a place for consumers to research. If you don’t sell anything on your website than your just spending money with no ROI. Than you still have to advertise it.

I realize it must be tough digesting this reality when this blog is probably used as a tool to sell seo. It’s important that people know that wool comes in different colors.


michael parente April 13, 2013 at 3:42 am

actually I’m Michael. I don’t know marcus I just see he has a point. I think u are a yellow page employee. but it is what it is. good luck finding a job in a few years but like I said before can’t argue with stupidity. like I mentioned we have clients who don’t use the yellow pages and they are up 36+% from the time they used yellow pages. a full page ad in a book in SF for example can run 10k a month compare that to an seo program at 1k a month we will say. now if your ranked in the top I quarantee you will get more visits and calls than u will in the yellow pages. after all u can add up all yellowpages in the world and than couldn’t even run down the leg of google. so lets use common sense…I’m assuming u have that. where do you think you would get more business. pull ur yellow page hat off when u give this answer.

fact is u don’t trust anything online but u still use it? hmmm if that’s the case u should see my point. also just have to disagree on your searches. if the yellow pages had someone looking for a dentist 60k times a year the internet would have at least 10x that number. I think every business shouldbe listed in the yellow pages. I just ddon’t think theu should pay.

this isn’t an agenda. it is truth. I wasn’t fired and I didn’t quit because the industry was dying. would u like to verify that with gannett (newspaper) or with one of my other companies?

this is my last response. I have better things to do than argue with a yellow pages rep. especially for a small time outfit like valley…lmao


Robert April 13, 2013 at 5:18 am

If your not Marcus than how do you know whether there is an agenda or not.

A new job in a few years? Lol

I’m a business owner with a marketing background.

Again it depends on the type of business. If you have a business that sells widgets you can sell them on a website to compliment a retail environment. If your business doesn’t sell online, than you need to focus on advertising to get your local market to you. You can’t unclog a drain online.

Just because you and your kiddie friends use the Internet doesn’t mean everyone does. If everyone did everything the same we would all be wearing the same thing.

Print has about 10 years of life left.

Ideally you would want to run television commercials, radio spots, newspaper inserts, internet and directory listings. To brand yourself. Only larger companies can do it all.

A quarter page is usually enough unless its one of the more competitive heading like attorneys.

You said 10x the amount of print versus Internet it takes 10x more click throughs to get serious customers. I use the Internet for entertainment like laughing at people hint, hint. I use yellowpages to find local businesses. Because I know everyone doesn’t have a web page and I don’t want 3-4 references for the same company before getting to their website.

It’s ok that not every company has a display ad. Competitive advantage goes to those that do. I agree everyone should get free yellow page ads. I think their in business to make money though. Everyone should have free websites too with free optimization. No bidding on keywords either yahoo, bing , and google should go ad free.

I don’t care if you respond or not. Someone else might. Maybe Dan will chime back in about complaining about yellow page generated calls asking about price.


Shelly Fox April 13, 2013 at 3:46 pm

I also had to comment on that! If they don’t pay to be listed, how would they get listed?? Do expect the yellow page company to list everyone for free? And if there is value in being there, why the hell shouldn’t there be a cost involved? I have enjoyed this string. I’m glad to have the different points of view. I too believe in a diversified marketing plan that is tailored to the needs of my individual clients. I have to say though, that was the silliest comment in the whole string! The books are free to the consumers, therefore if the businesses that wish to reach these folks don’t pay for the exposure, WHO pays for the production of the book? Do you know the cost involved in the production of a phone book? There’s the salary, mileage & commission for any sales team, the hours upon hours of wages for design team, the cost of printing, stitch & trim and distribution. Whew! I don’t know of any company that can afford all of that for a free product! Not to mention folks that don’t have traditional phone services. What then? The publishing company may purchase lists to be included in the directory from the local phone company, but not all phone number lists are available. Cell phones and other non traditional phone services don’t sell their lists. I had a client, restaurant owner, that did not renew her $50 (total for the year, not monthly) bold listingS (restaurants AND pizza). A few weeks after the book was published she called to scream at me for her number not being in the book at all. I politely informed her that we purchase our listings from the two phone companies in the area and the only two ways one gets listed is by either having service they one of those companies, or purchasing a space. She proceeded to tell me how important it was for number to be in the yellow pages, that she was the only restaurant in town not listed… Hmmm gues you should have forked over the $50 if it were THAT important!


joe underwood April 13, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I hang with this site (a couple of others?) simply because some of you make some really good points and paths that should be explored? But sometimes the paths turn into tangents that have barely a thread of value? Here is a take that some might agree with: The consumer is like a diamond with many facets but they can be catorgized into two basic launch platforms…….they are either 911 or 411. And the consumer can use e.g. YP’s, WWW, Radio, TV, Media Print, etc. Now all of those can be FREE to the Consumer but only one is FREE (or can be) to the Local Merchant (hopefully no need to answer, which?)

Concession, the YP’s were way to expensive and they still have not adjusted to their ROI (but are they dead?) and with that, SEO folks prey upon lack of knowledge in the market place.


John April 13, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Let me speak very slowly for the internet nerds…We track the calls from our yellow page ads…the customer tracks the conversion of that call to $$…yellow page ads are still the most powerful local product…we also carry all the SEO products…a well rounded campaign INCLUDING YELLOW PAGES is the most effective period!!


Ted April 14, 2013 at 2:00 pm

First off, delete the stupid post above. It has no value here.

YP is fading, that’s the trend and no one person is going to change it. Should a small business still consider YP’s. It all depends how they manage their brand online and currently they stink at it. In local search, YP is just another listing below the customer grabbing quality of the 7 box, videos and ppc. I can tell you their YouTube channel is a poor attempt at video advertising for their customer. I know because I’m in that business and their channel provides me a ton of customers. Their version of video optimization is self serving first, then the customer.


Robert April 14, 2013 at 7:27 pm

I like the off topic posts, and I know why you don’t. This goes to show you how bad the internet has gotten. Nobody has time to sift through the crap to find what their looking for. Because of that Internet won’t take over the world of advertising. Just like the microwave didn’t eliminate the oven. Furthermore blogs not just this one in most cases allow for an open forum for people to run amuck. Consumers want the truth, everyone has their own oppinion which is great and the reason why when you bash something as this blog did it also brings out the opposition, as well as the kidney collectors. Nice point on you tube don’t really care for it as well.


John April 20, 2013 at 7:59 am

So how many customers do the networks or cable guarantee when you run a TV ad…oh yeah…none…WE TRACK OUR CALL VOLUME FOR YOUR BUSINESS…These are customers that arent browsing the web for porn when they happen upon your site…but rather a customer looking to spend money with your business…we sell internet, SEO, Apps, websites, and print…Print is still the most powerful local search product…contrary to what these limited internet product pushers on this site tell you…i dont talk it…I track it…and Yellowbook isnt in the same league…


joe underwood April 20, 2013 at 11:45 am

John, take a breath. Read all the threads. Bottom line it is all helpful to the consumer? Marcus gave 11 reasons “……why not?” And there are more but there just as many as to “why should’nt?”

Area Code Shopper
Titan Fence, Inc.


Robin May 24, 2013 at 5:00 pm

My comment, or 2 cents worth, is this………I purchased a business a little over a year ago and started an online ad campaign with Google Adwords. It took about a month to really take off but it took off. It was a PPC (pay-per-click) ad. March of this year I was approached by YP.com reps who promiseed me the moon. Guaranteed Leads, call tracking with the ability to listen to the recorded calls, YP360 Virtual Tour on our ads and website, basically make my business grow etc etc……I was told to shut down my Google ad. Well, 45 days later my sales have dropped by 30%, my phone doesn’t ring, but when it does it is a telemarketing recorded call, or a wrong number, or a customer calling from my Angie’s list ad or off of Google (which still shows up). I am locked into a contract for $27k for 10 months. I only spent a total of $15K with Google for 13 months. I am so angry with YP right now for what I feel is down right Fraud. I am currently going through the channels to get out of it without having to pay the full contract balance, and since I never signed an actual contract I am hopeful that I can accomplish this. If not, I pray the YP ad kicks in and starts paying BIG TIME!


Security in Pretoria June 6, 2013 at 4:38 pm

It’s interesting that it’s difficult to impossible to find pricing information online n for what the Yellow Pages charges. Is their pricing so bad they don’t want anyone to know about it?

Also, while your article here was definitely informative about why not to advertise in the Yellow Pages BOOK, I was really trying to find pricing information about what the charge to advertise ONLINE on their website, and I was hoping to do so without opening myself up to a salesman calling me. Do you happen to know what the costs are for that?


Jennifer Lynn June 7, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I must list a physical address on my product if I do not list in the yellow pages, per FDA regulation. Since I don’t want wackadoodles to know my physical address, I have no choice BUT to list in the Yellow Pages.
Does the government get a kickback on Yellow Pages?


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Yikes! That sucks! Is that even legal???


Antoine White June 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm

As a business you have to think of your ideal customer when advertising. Now the yellow page directory only goes to homes that request it. I am 25years old I rent a condo and I am in debt, but my mom is 56 owns her home has an expendable income but can barely send a text message. When she needs a service nomatter if its a dentist, lawyer, landscaper, contractor, florist etc. she uses the yellow page book. Me i search from my phone or laptop but I don’t need any of these services plus I can’t afford them. As a business owner though you don’t want to leave any money on the table so you have to be every where the consumer will plook for you. YP.com is also great for small businesses in any city or state. Once you become an advertiser with yp they distribute you to all of their partner sites for free which is about 300 sites and 30 mobile platforms. Yahoo, AOL, Superpages, Dexknows, Verizon, ETC.


yp-please June 18, 2013 at 5:15 pm

fastest growing internet demographic is 45+ so I don’t buy it. yellow pages are worthless. what is ur position at yp dot com?

Social media has brought in the older demographic and putting yet another nail in the yellowpage coffin.


Casey Lewis February 5, 2014 at 7:50 pm

you might wanna take a glance at these reports. Your glowing report of the YP companies, all who have faced bankruptcies, mergers, acquisitions and recently destroyed the earnings, benefits and job security of their employees. Oh yeah and they now outsource most of the work oversea’s and elsewhere.

Ma Bell is dead



Lauren June 24, 2013 at 4:23 pm

I work for a small computer repair shop who’s clientele is a lot of older folk. These people are still in the out-dated habit of turning to the old Yellow Pages book. And especially since most of them call simply because they don’t have working computers nor smartphones to go online to look up phone numbers. So they HAVE to use a phone book.

I would interested to know how to simply reduce the bill since my employer is really struggling to make ends meet due to such a huge YP bill.


Casey Lewis February 5, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Lauren, If you want help with your YP bill, contact me. No charge. I worked for the industry for a very long time and I can help you reduce the costs and ultimately the ROI if there is one.

Casey 925-452-8278


Pay On Results SEO June 24, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Hi Marcus,

I like your post you raise many very valid points, the yellow pages is a paper based institution of yesterday although many business still seem to use their services they have tried to embrace the natural progression that their business would take by going digital and offering seo and search marketing services, although I think what they offer is very low quality and low value work that will never be competitive enough to actually rank your website for any generic terms, I think the best results one would be likely to see is for localized and region search terms, thank you.



Edward July 1, 2013 at 7:18 pm

It is a very interesting to emphasize Death to Yellow Pages. I totally agree YP Phone books is death as Elvis!
However, Yellow Page is expanding to Yellow Online, I have belief that Yellow Page can still be vital for some certain industry – old traditional heavy industry like mining. They could easy look for localised business by using the their traditional search engine.


Aaron July 8, 2013 at 7:23 am

robert seems like he is a representative of the yellow page industry in some form or another. interesting thread. the only thing i agreed with robert on was that the the yellow pages is more of a buyers market. and the internet is full of people trying to research. THAT is true, but what will happen after they are done researching? they will buy. are they going to look in to the yellow pages to find the contact info? no. they have already done their research on the internet(probably from google directing them to a website) and have collected all the information they need. in fact, a lot more information than what can be found in the yellow pages. in 2002, 15 billion people were flipping through the yellow pages. in 2013, 10 billion and it’s quickly decreasing year by year. where are the people going? where is the trend leading? ONLINE. not yp.com either. GOOGLE. 70% of all searches start with google now and google will lead to web pages that are optimized for specific search terms and topics that people are searching for. now those who say that the yellow pages are dead are ignorant. in fact, the yellow pages does still work very well for certain demographics and industries. who are the people still searching in the yellow pages? mainly the baby boomers who either convinced themselves they don’t need a computer or the ones who bought one and still can’t figure how to type something in to a search bar just like they don’t know how to set the time on a vcr. when they all die off though, THEN the yellow pages will be dead and anyone who has researched the trend for yellow pages will know this. i ran across an article about yp.com recently. someone decided it wasn’t cost efficient and wanted to quit the service(can’t blame them. their web design pages look like they are 10 years old and unprofessional). after he quit their service, yellow pages offered his domain name to him for over $2,000 when a domain name would have originally cost around $12. they charge a company $50 to rent a website every month when a better website would cost $1000 and the business would actually own it. after only 5 years, that same $50 website a month has now cost the business $3000. and because you are only renting the website, what do they do? they brand their own company at the bottom of each customer’s website on the bottom left and right. free advertising for yellow pages and the businesses trying to brand their own name are paying for that. there are just way to many problems with yellow pages now to list. they were a trusted and credible company for over 100 years for a directory listing and they still are……but they have absolutely no clue how to help an average business owner in online marketing. yellow pages sucks at it and because they tried to get in to an industry that they aren’t experts in, they are losing their credibility and business owners are trusting them less now and they are ruining their reputation. over time, it will hurt the company terribly. if robert disagrees with me on this, that’s fine. if so though, i would be glad to do a mutual live case study with him so he can put his money where his mouth it. my proposal is simple. we both put in 10k each for a total of 20k. half that will go to advertising with yellow pages or his directory company of his choosing, and half of it will go to advertising online only without a directory listing. the case study will be for a full year with all advertising avenues being tracked, recorded, and posted publicly. i will even let robert choose the industry as certain industries WILL play a role in favor of certain services of the directory company, but not as much as robert may think. i don’t know if a case study like this has ever been performed, but it would be a GREAT on and one where i would be willing to pay for half and put my money where my mouth is. so how about it robert??? another big reason why people are looking on the internet and not offline directory listings is that reviews are becoming more and more popular. people want to see the reviews of a dentist or a doctor or a lawyer and all of the smaller industries to see how they compare to the competition. this is becoming more and more popular every day not only by people who like to review, but people who want to read reviews because they want to make an informed decision after they research. robert said that people are only researching online. that’s only half right because there is only one reason a person would be researching and that is to BUY and SPEND. if it was true that yellow pages offline directory isn’t in jeapordy, why’d they spend so much money trying to create a presence online? why did 1/3 of the people who used to flip through the yellow pages stop doing it in 10 years time and still dwindling? forbes did thier own research and put their reputation on the line saying that yellow pages is becoming less of a viable solution for marketing a business now. why would they do that? anyway, i had to put my 2 cents in here. i have been marketing online for over 20 years and i have been selling my marketing services for over 10 years and have just started helping local businesses become more informed in how to spend their marketing dollar. directory listings do serve a purpose, but it isn’t to help a business grow anymore. yea, the roi can still be good in certain industires, but there are better viable solutions…..there always were…..for over 10 years now. here is one little fact that hasn’t even been discussed in this thread. with cell phones on the rise, there are now more cell phone than computers. these smart phones are like miniature computers and people who are browsing with their smart phone are “researchers”. they are buyers. in another 5 years, the majority of the population will have a smart phone and they WILL be using it as consumers and ready buyers. this is another area that is booming right now and will ultimately cause the demise of the big yellow book that will only have one purpose……to serve as a coaster…..


joe underwood July 8, 2013 at 9:17 am

Aaron, really long post. Not a big believer in YP’s (as the only source of information) but are they going to evaporate as a tool for Marketing? They bring their cost down to something in line with the WWW and they will find their niche.

Now as for the PC and the Smartphone……..WOW! I agree that the Smartphone is developing as a marketing tool but I would suggest that it is not going to be the research vehicle ……… whereas the Desk Top has the properties of size and if you will easy on the EYES? I use both for 911/411 marketing and research.

joe underwood
Area Code Shopper
Titan Fence, Inc.
Woof Woof Roofs


showmelocal August 11, 2013 at 1:11 pm

i think the smartphone is not only one marketing tool that is just developing. i think smartphones will be one of the most important places for marketing. it still depends on the market, but in some branches, beeing found and have a mobile version of a homepage is essential to succeed.


Edwin James Lynch August 17, 2013 at 4:55 am

Oh my. Here in Australia, the Yellow Pages outsource all their work to poor Asian countries. They are trying to keep hold of techno-illiterates by suggesting they have a “special relationship” with Google. I wrote a very tame article about it which you can read here: http://geoffreymultimedia.com/yellow-pages-vs-google-adwords/

Most of my clients (I’m a website developer) come to me after spending thousands on other web companies or on useless phone book advertising that often amounted to $30+ for an in-bound phone call. It’s a genuine rip-off here in Oz just as it is in your country. But ignorance is hard to address and habits harder to break.

One client paid me $200 towards an Adwords campaign the other day – just to get one or two of his 5 hire cars out of the yard ($100 for me, $100 for Adword clicks). After spending just $20 on his campaign (40 in-bound clicks) or so, I moved 3 of his cars out of the lot. I called to ask if he wanted to pause the campaign and save the remaining $80 for a rainy day.

Contrast that with another client I had who was literally screaming at a marketing girl in front of me call because she was paying $10,000+ per year for advertising and most of the calls were from tire-kickers or sales people.

Good to read that it’s not just us.

Hey, I’m about to link to this page from my own article, so you’ll get a ping, but I have to warn my readers that you have a pop-over. Aussies don’t like pop-up ads (I hope you don’t mind). I don’t mind myself, but Aussies are a bit like the English when it comes to buying anything (I was born inUK) and don’t like to be “disturbed” when making purchasing decisions. For example, they will often suddenly find the door if a sales person says, “Can I help you with anything?” Tough crowd, I’m telling you.


Marcus Sheridan August 19, 2013 at 11:53 pm

Hi Edwin. The pop up here is set to appear once every 30 days per IP address. It is also one of the primary reasons my free eBook has now been downloaded about 15,000 times. Personally, I’m not a big fan of pop ups either, but I am a big fan of results. Ultimately, we can’t let our personal opinions supersede proven numbers and results.

If someone can’t close out a pop up every 30 days, I’m OK w them going their merry way.



Edwin August 20, 2013 at 12:10 am

I read you. Let ‘em “truck on by”. :)


joe underwood August 17, 2013 at 12:39 pm

All of you realize that Marcus does not exist? He is the computer in (2001 Space Odyssey).

joe underwood
Area Code Shopper
Titan Fence, Inc.
Woof Woof Roofs


Marcus Sheridan August 19, 2013 at 11:50 pm

That is correct Joe. I’m actually the lawnmower man enjoying an ongoing debate :)


joe underwood August 20, 2013 at 9:17 am

Marcus just wanted to wake the Lion.

joe underwood
Area Code Shopper
Titan Fence, Inc.
Woof Woof Roofs


chel September 3, 2013 at 8:23 pm

I am a small HVAC business. Here’s the cold hard facts. YP charges us $4400.00 per month for a full page ad in the printed YP book and an online plan that they can’t answer exactly what it provides but it accounts for $800 a month of that $4400. Our placement in print is great-2nd page. In 2012, I added up the revenue from ALL new customers, generously giving YP credit for ALL of those new customers even though it’s likely that half came from referrals. YP is the ONLY advertising we have done. For 2012, we barely broke even. So, for 2013, I implemented my OWN tracking number and tracked how many calls were generated from the printed ad-it rarely rang and of course anyone that got to our web page would use our regular land line number so it wouldn’t reflect that the lead came from YP. It’s September and YP rep came out to sell us a renewal but I was prepared with cold hard facts. I generously gave credit for ALL NEW customers to YP. Our busy season for 2013 is over, with giving credit to YP for ALL new customers that didn’t tell me they were a referral from another customer, that’s a grand total of 38 customers in 8 full months & they generated $26,000 in GROSS sales, at a cost of $4400×8= $35,200 paid to YP….that’s a NEGATIVE ROI. And even if we generously consider that those 40 customers will generate some income next year, being as that was GROSS sales that don’t allow for the cost of parts/equipment, it would STILL be a negative ROI. No matter how I twist the numbers, the ad is NOT paying for itself, with the busy season over the ROI over the next few months will be very negative as I continue to pay $4400 a month for the rest of the year…our off season which will push the annual ROI further into the negative. So yes, even though some folks keep telling us trades folks (hvac service, plumbers, roofers etc) that we shouldn’t dream of leaving the YP…..well here’s a newsflash, continuing to pay to be on that sinking ship is the equivalent of flushing hard earned money down the toilet. We are not renewing our ads with YP for 2014, and funny thing is, our sales rep at YP did not even put up a fight, his best offer was to give us a $250 “discount” which is laughable, when we said that wasn’t good enough, he said he’s sorry to lose our business…seems even he knows his ship is sinking!


Alan November 5, 2013 at 12:20 am

Dex Media is a dud. I would not advertise with this group and pay outrageous costs for useless advertising. The new players are Facebook, Angie’s List, and Google+


joe underwood November 5, 2013 at 9:49 am

Alan brings up a valid suggestion about alternate paths for SMB exposure! The commitment to updating the avenues available for exposure using the WWW and its partners is TIME. There are hundreds of opportunities like Facebook, Manta, Angie’s List, Google, etc. and each takes about 12 minutes to fill out data information…………but the reward is a judgment call for the SMB. YP’s are not dead but they are not what they once were and should be judged on what is now available for FREE!

joe underwood
Area Code Shopper


Alan July 24, 2014 at 10:58 pm

Hi Joe,
I get so much business from Angie’s List and a couple of other Social Media sites, I would never dream of advertising with this dinosaur. I have all the business I can handle and I only pay 1/10th the cost of what I used to pay. I remember the last time I advertised with this loser company. For my type of business there apparently were two different headings. The sales rep put me in the wrong one which was several pages back. I was in this obscure heading all by myself. I paid over $3,000 for this ad and only got one call all year long. I called and complained and was told, you signed the contract.
Never again will they get my money. Don’t advertise with Dex Media. You will be sorry if you do.


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Michel December 7, 2013 at 7:04 am

I am not sure if I can agree with this. Yellow Pages is great for local businesses it really just depends on the type of niche. I’ve seen lots of local business owners make great money from advertising on Yellow Pages. But overall Gumtree is best!


John December 19, 2013 at 11:32 am

Let me give my own thoughts here as someone who is a business owner .
To say the yp industry is dead is not true but also not false ..it depends on your business and market
1 anybody that puts all the ads in one media is going to miss business .
2. To make a sweeping acquisition that all yellowpages are dead is also false.
As a business owner for over 30 years i would suggest analyzing the demographics of your LOCAL market first .. After all if you are a set location this is where a majority of your business will and does come from . There are many reasons for this but to many ti lists .
3) what i sluggers is spread the wealth stay cut down ou the utility book they are way overpriced .
4) here is the deal 7 years ago yp was the main thing now it’s one of many things ..do some diligence check your local directory rates spread your money to multiple sources


John December 19, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I apologize for the miss spellings .. My iPad was in its own world


Kenneth Rossman January 4, 2014 at 12:45 pm

I advertise entirely online, but am considering print advertising in phone directories. I am a real estate appraiser working in an area (SE Palm Beach County, FL) with an extremely high percentage of aging seniors in the population, many if not most of whom are not computer let alone internet saavy.


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Steve January 16, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Small businesses beware! Yellow Pages had a sales rep meet with me to try and sell me on a whole host of products for advertising my business. I wouldn’t budge on anything, especially internet related, because I am very well positioned online. But, he did sell me on signing up for 1 year of print phone book Yellow Pages where I would only have to pay if a prospect called me, called Pay Per Call.

I figured that the $13-$16 per call would be worth it because if they called, I’d have a very good chance of converting it into business that would pay for that cost. Here’s what you don’t realize and how they get you…98% of your calls will be “unknown” wrong numbers, or telemarketers calling you where you’ll have 0% chance of business but YP will get paid 100% from you. YP makes a ton of money and you don’t…in fact, you end up having to pay a ton of money for absolutely nothing in return. It’s a complete scam and I think they might even be behind a lot of the unknown numbers calling…if they even just did this once or twice a month for every number in the phone book, they’d make a fortune…I’m sure they do it way more often than that and you can’t prove it’s not them.

They don’t work with you and they force you to pay for the non-business phone calls from telemarketers and unknown numbers. You also get a lot of calls from people asking you for referrals to other types of businesses…some in which your business isn’t even remotely related to. You can’t possibly know these are almost the only calls you’ll receive before you sign up…and you have to pay for all of these calls that do nothing for your business!

Don’t let yourself get sucked into this fraudulent scam like I did in Orlando, FL. I am looking at joining a class action lawsuit against Yellow Pages.


Marc A. January 24, 2014 at 3:46 am

Advertising on Yellow Pages?? Are you kidding me?

Before paying for Yellow Pages, buy a cell phone with a unique number, then list yourself for free on Yellow Pages. And if you don’t get a single lead from that cell phone from a free listing, why would you PAY tens of thousands for a big AD?

The arguments vouching for Yellow Pages are like from sales reps. You’re right, the TV didn’t kill radio, but the Yellow Pages are NOT like the radio.

The reason people watch TV or radio is because it includes content, the Yellow Pages are pretty much a directory listing without much in content. Opening a book takes ages to find something and you’re given very little information. Online you can find businesses very fast, get reviews, pricing on websites, etc…

If you’re lucky enough to get $1,000 in revenue after spending $10,000 in YP ads, that’s not a very good business decision, now is it?

I don’t even believe that even 5% of the population uses Yellow Pages anymore.


joe underwood January 24, 2014 at 2:21 pm

There are many parts of Marc’s thread we can agree with! But when the YP’s (books) get their pricing structure down to a realistic level they should be recognized as a source? But until they do just forget them!!! The WWW is the marketing path for all small local business? And please do not pay for advertising on the http://WWW…..there are sources in the Hundreds where you can get placed on Search Engines and Directories for FREE.

joe underwood


Casey Lewis February 5, 2014 at 7:22 pm

I spent an entire career in the Yellow Pages working for AT&T. I spent my last 12 years representing the workers who sell Yellow Page advertising for AT&T, Yellowpages.com, Dex Media and now YP. They have lost benefits, earnings, job security and basic respect in the market place. Why? Because the Yellow Pages doesn’t work any longer and they priced themselves out of the market in the late 80′s and early 90′s while they still enjoyed their monopoly status. The big thinkers never considered what they would do if and when the Yellow Pages stopped working or certainly declined in their results. The results are what you see today in the marketplace. They are scrambling trying to find product offerings to maintain their rapidly declining revenue and market share. As this effort to quickly get products that work online has developed they have lost a large percentage of their long time loyal customers who have found better, cheaper and higher ROI alternatives. They now have gone through bankruptcies, mergers, acquisitions and lost almost all of their seasoned professional sales force. I’m not bashing or hating, just stating the facts from someone who has been through all of it. As I write this response the YP sales force in Northern California has been without a contract for 6 months and are about to lose their pensions, retirement care, auto allowance and medical plan. Its over the glory days of the Yellow Pages. They are on life support right now and if they cannot find a viable reasonable product offering that can provide what the Yellow Pages once did for the SMB community they will be toast in the next 5 years. It really is a shame but it is a fact. Every single day in my new business we deal with customers who are almost distraught because they don’t know how to fill the void left from once robust Yellow Pages results that just are no longer there. Now I am sure someone somewhere has a YP ad that works. But for how long? and then what? If they don’t start an exit strategy now they are left at the hands of the YP company to resolve. They just don’t have a cost effective answer. Just ask a Yellow Pages advertiser. Have them ask their own Sales Rep to provide them with detailed analytics. Good luck.


Kyle February 16, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Fact: The yellow pages still work.

I own a roofing company and an internet marketing company.
My calltakers record every call, and ask where they heard about us, etc.

Fact: 5 yrs. ago the internet gave us less than 10% of our leads.

In 2013 that percentage quadrupled.

Internet is huge, that’s why I invested in a internet marketing company, but I still get the biggest ad in the phonebook each year and get a lot of work from it.

Factors to think about.

Yellow Page Calls:

1.) Age of your customer – in roofing….our biggest clients are over the age of 50 for roof replacements. A lot of people in that age bracket still use the yellow pages.

2.) Industry – Do you sell computer software, counselor, contractor, pizza shop, lawyer, etc. Each industry gets different results.

3.) Yellow Page Ad Size vs. Market Size. If you live in a city of 100,000 vs. a 900,000. A 1/4 page ad in a yellow page book….in a large city may not be worth it. That may be a poor investment, but a Full Page ad in a small city may be a great idea. Personally I have a 3/4 page in a small city. It would have been a huge mistake to pull my ad.

There are so many factors involved.

Track your results
How many calls were generated…….
How many sales were generated form those calls….
What was the average price of those sales made…..
What was the average profit from those sales……
Find out what your cost per lead is for yellow pages…..
Then make your decision….because your decision will be made by facts…your facts…your numbers……not somebody elses opinion.

Fact: No matter what you do…..advertise on the internet. Make up your own mind on the yellow pages, but every business should be online. Period.


Chris March 1, 2014 at 6:32 pm

I also own a roofing company in a large city in Florida. I’ve had full page color ads in all 3 of my local counties for the last 15 years. Last years contract was $4500 monthly. The books came out in July, our busy season. I had them include tracking numbers in all the books. I receive an email every month on its performance. We have been averaging about 35 calls a month. We sold about 5 jobs during the last 7 months of tracking. It’s costing us over $100 a call. They are now starting to come around for this years renewal. They said they would freeze my rate from last year, lol. I’m hoping to pay at least half of what I pay now or I’ll end up canceling my ads. Im willing to offer to them $50 for every call that comes from the phone book. I pay $50 for new roof appointments through Home Advisor for actual roof replacement estimates.


Casey Lewis March 1, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Chris, I hear that story every day and the only answer the YP companies have is to try this or that in order to preserve the 50K or so in billing. Start planning an online strategy now to eventually eliminate the yellow pages and bring in top of the line leads that you can track from start to finish.


Directive Approach March 27, 2014 at 12:41 am


Drop home adviser… They charge you 50 and several other roofing contractors as well. This way they make 300+ on each lead they get. Now your In a bidding war. Home advisor leads tend to be people looking for cheaper deals, I would do more SEM and SEO if your not all ready. It seems like your ROI in the Yellow Pages is there… It seems like your conversion is a little low though… You basically converted 5 sales out of 250 leads… There must be a lot of price shoppers or competition in your market. I’m in Wisconsin and you would convert at least 10% and that would be 25 jobs! Good luck down there…


Casey Lewis February 24, 2014 at 11:25 pm

I like your list of facts. Unfortunately it is not that simple. In dealing with Yellow Page advertisers daily the FACT of the matter is that most of them do not get sufficient results anymore. And the only answer they receive from the YP company is to buy more stuff and sign up for another year. That’s a broken business model that won’t work much longer. FACT, Yellow Pages won’t be around a lot longer. Better figure out your exit strategy before it figures you out.


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I maintain a small ($100/mo) position in yp.com which is worthwhile mostly because i worked very hard to get a lot of very positive consumer reviews. Several things that a very productive and free are google + and bing local listings. Add videos and lots of educational/sales blog posts and you will soon be ranked highly organically.


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Patrick March 4, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Print yellow pages are dead. I have paid for them starting in early 2000 when they were still used. Paying over $100,000 to be in multiple books. Now with the internet I have reduced my ads for the past year and will completely be out by the end of the year. Reps will give you stats but you will want to ask for the raw data. Numbers duration of call and time. Most are marketers calling from the book ( great source of leads for them) and multiple calls from same number. Yellow pages are done but the old timers of business are afraid to pull out because they werethe moan source of customers. No more


Casey Lewis March 6, 2014 at 12:16 am

I am enjoying this dialogue. I really hope that we can keep it up. I shall have a case study to share soon. I have a pest control company who has been spending 200k in the YP print products. They are not working any longer. As a matter of fact according to this rather astute business man, he has lost 2M in revenue in the last 3 years and new business customers has gone from apx 300 per month to now less than 30. Those are real numbers and facts from a real long time and loyal Yellow Pages advertiser. We are going to begin construction on his website tomorrow and the process of developing his premium offers, conversion mapping, blog and social media calendar. We are going to try and fast track the results to see where we can be by this summer. That’s his high bug season. Anyone interested in the results? Just let me know. Let’s see a real life example.


F.A. March 7, 2014 at 1:44 pm

I still use a Yellowpages book. Not just for finding pizza places nearby :) I like to compare rates before spending on things like insurance, carpet cleaning, etc.

I don’t like using yp.com because I have to fish through the millions of unrelated listings to find what I’m really looking for.


Casey Lewis March 7, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Do you ever use the YP.com iPhone app?


YP March 13, 2014 at 12:53 pm

I came across this post and wanted to share my experience with YP Ad Solutions, the online version of regular Yellow Pages.

They are absolutely the worst.

Not only have we already lost a few thousand dollars by signing up with them, we get to look forward to another 7 months of losing even more money because they require a 12 month minimum contract.

We DID earn some revenue from them, but our ROI is worse than any other advertising service we’ve seen, roughly -70% (NEGATIVE 70 percent).

YP Pay Per Call and YP Advertising Solutions for local online marketing is the worst experience I’ve had with any ad network.


Casey Lewis March 15, 2014 at 4:45 pm

I am curious. we deal with a lot of YP advertisers who want to get out, but are concerned with the overlapping expense while they wait for their products to expire that are not working anyways. We try to work with them because Inbound generally takes a period of time to ramp up all the results. What are you going to do next? And what are you doing now with products that are essentially costing you money to not perform. In other words, do you have a YP exit strategy and a new plan going forward?


YP April 24, 2014 at 12:46 pm

We’re still working on negotiating an early out from the the contract. Posting a complaint with BBB.org actually resulted in a response and we’re waiting to see if we can get out of the contract.

We will be looking additional ways to optimize ads on Google and Bing but also looking to get into other channels such as purchasing leads.


Casey Lewis April 24, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Well let me know what state your in and I’ll see if I can assist you. It’s too bad that you have to go to all of this to stop advertising with an organization that didn’t deliver as promised. Before you spend more money on additional paid advertising, make sure you website is set up to take advantage of shoppers and convert them to leads. Casey


Casey Lewis March 23, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Any thoughts on the YP and YELP business alliance. I have some pretty big concerns about what they already do to the SERP. Hopefully we can get Google Bing and Yahoo to keep local searches local!


Directive Approach March 27, 2014 at 12:22 am

Just a thought… Look at the directive print and digital marketing approach… I mean why continue to argue about one or the other? Print YP vs online Search…Where do consumers go first when buying a product or service? Internet search (google,yahoo,bing) and/or the Yellow Pages. The argument should be weather or not SMB’s need “top of mind” (tv, radio, newspaper, billboards…) The ROI is there and many times over with directive marketing (these are ready to buy customers). There is no doubt that trying to attract new business through these other medians is and can help grow a business, with a much larger budget… Stick to your yellow pages and online search both SEM and SEO this way no matter where the consumer goes first you are an option. TV and Radio killed my business… Why didn’t I just focus on the customers looking for my products rather the people that didn’t need them. Both Yellow Pages and Online Search drive an ROI… It’s only when you start to add in the extra tv, radio, billboard… That takes away from your return on investment and now starts to cost you… Also it’s important to differentiate the areas/ markets when discussing the pros and cons of print and online… In the rural Midwest markets it’s a lot different from the East or West Coast metro markets. All in all… Stick to the directive approach and drop the other medians… You will see and feel the difference.


Casey Lewis March 27, 2014 at 11:49 am

So you actually think purchasing Yellow Page print as well as online from YP.com/DexKnows.com or Superpages.com is the way to go?


Matt March 27, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Why would you ever buy PPC from a yellow page company. None of them manage their own campaigns. Example, you give AT&T (YP.Connect) $1,000/month and they take around 40% as their fee and then give the rest of the money ($600) to another vendor to manage who takes around 30% as their fee. The bottom-line is that only about 55% of your money actually goes to PPC. I have seen 100′s of YP Connect, Yellow Book HIBU and other yellow page company campaigns and would you believe that I have NEVER seen one in which more than 10% of the business owners monthly budget actually making it to Google. I am a member of several social media groups like the YP.Connect union and when you see the actual sales people complaining about their products poor performance you realize what joke it really is. ReachLocal has NO maintenance fee, maybe that is why we are Google’s only international partner. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/04/26/idUS236499+26-Apr-2011+BW20110426


Casey Lewis March 27, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Yes I agree. that’s what I am finding with my own clients. We can do a simple and basic adword program to kickstart the Inbound program.


Casey Lewis March 27, 2014 at 12:23 pm

I am having problems with clients who are not receiving an ROI from the local Yellow Page Companies and their vendor products. It’s the primary reason I have elected to use Inbound Marketing for our clients. Its vastly superior. Albeit a media mix is a good way to go, print directories and their online companions don’t seem to be the way to go. What are your thoughts?


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Rich May 8, 2014 at 12:38 pm

As one working for a small (less than 15 employees) company that prints a single, annual regional phone book, I have to say I don’t disagree with a lot of what you have here, and it’s typically what we hear on a year-to-year basis.

My question for you is this – what would your solution be? I’m always interested in making steps in the right direction, so if you ran a YP company, where and how would you transition to give your clients satisfaction that their money is going in the right place?

And, just on a side note, I wonder if you know the side effects of point 10. We often find ourselves at the ‘end of the accountant’s list,’ and, as such, find it sometimes hard to actually make our own payroll or pay our own bills. Obviously, this likely isn’t the case for the big companies like Verizon, but there are little guys trying to make it in this business too. There are ways we’ll work with clients, but it’s a pretty bold, and frankly slightly dishonorable, move to tell someone to just not pay their bill for a service they requested, whether or not that service is deemed worthy after the fact.


Casey Lewis May 8, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Rich, I was in the YP business most of my life. And I started working in the rural areas of Kansas and Missouri. I can remember working Marshall MO. alone and the company would run an ad notifying people that I was in the motel in room 6. I would just sit there and the customers would come in one by one to handle their advertising. My point is WOW have times have changed. I get engaged in the YP vs. online argument all of the time. And I moved on to start an Inbound marketing firm because IMHO that’s the way to go. But I understand completely that in smaller rural markets the YP still has some good value and the change to digital not so necessary yet. However what is important I believe is to find the best way to bring the client new business while at the same time beginning to educate them on how business is now being found online. And most importantly how they can now start to take simple steps to move in that direction. Heck, even if you show them how to set up a Google+ page with blogger and help them get some pages indexed out there it helps. I managed a nationwide sales force of YP and Dex reps and watched as the companies have struggled trying to keep monies they are losing in the print by partnering with substandard online offerings but worse than that selling clicks to websites that clearly cannot convert traffic to sales. If you care about the customers and it sounds like you do, find that proper mix to satisfy the need for business now and help and teach them how to begin the process to obtain new business from online sources and mainly Google search.


amber May 8, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Questions for you all!
Do Yellow Page listings help with internet search standings?




Casey Lewis May 8, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Amber do you mean YP print listings or are you referring to the online versions like YP.com, DexKnows.com or SuperPages.com?


Amber May 8, 2014 at 5:40 pm

We are currently doing print listings and web listings with Yellow Pages and Dex. We are trying to decide also based on the internet search standings?


Casey Lewis May 8, 2014 at 6:48 pm

The online versions do help out. I use them as a best practice as well as about 25 other directories to insure maximum exposure from an SEO perspective as well as good back links. If you would like I can send you over a list of the top directories that we use for every client to insure the best results on Google Bing and Yahoo search results. It’s a bit of a headache to setup. It takes almost a full day but well worth the effort. I’m at casey@rhinopros.com


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Jen Crawford May 20, 2014 at 10:04 am

Marcus – great piece. The reality is that the YP rates have still not improved and the ROI is still as low. YP in Canada seems to be slowly turning things around. However, if you’re a small or medium sized business, you should checkout http://www.adzura.com. It’s a site dedicated to helping SMB grow.


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