I’ve owned local retail businesses since June 6, 1994. I’ve dealt with every type of advertising sales rep you can imagine. TV, radio, newspaper, magazine, place mat, book cover and of course Yellow Pages ad reps all have courted me for my advertising dollar.
Yellow Pages: Holy grail of local advertising ……in 1994
Earlier in my business, Yellow Pages seemed like the holy grail of local advertising. It was so important that my attorney had a list of all the cutoff dates for the various directories. He gave it to me a few months before my business opened and told me to get on it right away. There were nearly a half-dozen different directories in my market and all of them were several inches thick. I was told to advertise in them all and I did. Business was booming for the Yellow Pages ad rep.
Meeting with them was like meeting with the principal in high school. You did what they said or else. The price was the price. And the price was high! I spent thousands of dollars a month for small ads in all these different books. But business came in. People used directory advertising back then. In every house you would find a Yellow Pages directory under the telephone or in a drawer nearby.
Birth of the internet = beginning of the end for Yellow Pages
Interestingly enough, another company was founded in 1994 that would change the world of marketing forever. That company was Netscape. I remember taking a break from building my new store and reading a newspaper article about this new company that had something called a “Web Browser.” This was the real birth of the internet as we know it today. Netscape’s browser made the world wide web available to anyone with a phone line and a computer.
You know the rest of the story. The world of marketing was forever changed. The term “Information Age” sums up the changes. Consumers demand information and they demand it immediately! If they want the number of a local pizza shop, they simply Google it. If they want to find out where to get screen printing done, they ask Siri. If they want a plumber or an electrician, many astute buyers check Angie’s list.
Most consumers are not using Yellow Pages. Consumer references are dropping off a cliff. Directory page count has dropped tremendously. Just look at how thin the latest directory is. Major directory companies like Donnelly and Idearc have gone bankrupt.
Search is where it’s at
And all this time, online search traffic is increasing at a rapid pace. Being a Yellow Pages ad rep in 2013 must be the toughest job in sales!
As a smart local business person, you need to ask yourself where you should be putting your advertising dollars? I submit that the wise person will put his marketing budget into mediums that consumers are looking. Your consumers are looking online.
I welcome your comments and critiques!