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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