Yellow Pages Ads - Buying Secrets
Yellow Pages Ads - Buying Secrets
OK - let's agree that many businesses can benefit greatly from Yellow Pages advertising. Let's also agree that few businesses enjoy paying for this "necessary evil". So how do you decide if it is right for you, what books to use, how much to spend and how to build a successful program? It's really easy if you understand some basic concepts.
Do you need yellow pages ads?
How important is the telephone as a "door to your business"? Does a large percentage of your customer base call you before they buy? Is your business one that gets customers that are area newcomers (I don't know anyone), emergency buyers (I need someone now!), dissatisfied customers (I want a new supplier), infrequent buyers (I don't know now who can do this) or comparison shoppers (I want to check with everyone)? If so, then yellow pages are probably a good idea for your business. Do not ignore Internet yellow pages that may serve you better than, or support, a print ad. Both reach customers when they are ready to buy.
White Pages Listings
White Pages Listings are valuable for companies due to their convenience for people that know your company name and have decided to call only you. Finding you by name keeps your customers out of the yellow pages where they may be tempted by the ads of your competitors. Most directories offer white pages bold listings and sometimes even small in-column ads. If you're in business then you need white page listings - period.
Which book is best?
Determine the key criteria Possession, Preference and Usage. Every rep will have great statistics to show. However the local phone company is usually regulated by a State agency and is held to strict accuracy on claims. Additionally the YPA (Yellow Pages Association) is the industry association that provides validation on much of the industry facts and figures. Local market facts ad relevance so be certain to consider this over "industry figures". The local phone company book is almost always the best Value Purchase. Secondary books can be of benefit but your cost per customer may be much higher than the primary book. Consider the following: Book "A" ad costs $100 and Book "B" ad costs $50. Book "A" has 80% Possession, Preference and Usage AND Book "B" has 20% Possession, Preference and Usage. Book "A" could deliver 8 of 10 shoppers and Book "B" could deliver 2 of 10. So Book "A" customers cost you $12.50 each while Book "B" customers cost you $25.00 each. Thus the value is in the "more expensive" ad space. It's really about return on investment. Buy smart. And again, the Internet yellow pages are a distinct advantage that the phone companies have to offer.
How much do I spend?
In short, no more than you have to. Don't get caught up in being under every heading or buying a bigger ad every year. Look at your chosen directory, your headings and decide what it takes to be competitive enough to generate the amount of business that you need. If everyone has an in-column space listing then a small display ad is quite dominant. If you are a small business and a full page delivers more than you can handle then it is a waste of money. Inversely, if you buy an ad size that is too small then your call counts could be horrible. I refer to people with these ads as making a donation to the publisher. In every heading the people with the most prominent ads "love yellow pages" and those with tiny ads or only listings always complain, "I don't get any calls from the yellow pages". Have your rep explain in detail how their company prices ads. The large publishers typically have a set rate for each item and a formal marketing plan with discounts. Many of the independent books place you in the position of needing to be a master negotiator in order to get the same deal as the customer on their last sales call. If a rep can't clearly explain their pricing plan then be very cautious - they are probably misleading you and undoubtedly you will catch them bobbing and weaving as they try to explain how they arrived at their numbers. Hopefully you will have the same rep in subsequent years and trust will be established. Annual increases to your ad program may happen - publishing and distribution costs do increase. Although increases may be valid you may be able to minimize cost increases by understanding the pricing plan. Don't be afraid to ask questions and make absolutely positive that you understand what ad items that you are buying. Review your program items before you sign.
How do I build a successful program?
First, know that your rep is in front of you to sell advertising and may not be the best person at ad design. Reps receive minimal training on professional advertising design and they usually make a sales call shorter by quickly steering you into an ad designed as a box with your "name, rank and serial number". An ad should be eye catching and provide a compelling reason to call - offering a solution to the buyer. Yellow page users are ready to buy and are deciding on whom to call. Have an ad that presents you as The Credible Solution. Yellow page advertising is expensive only if you have an under performing ad design. When you consider the impact on your bottom line (the revenue and the expense) it may be worth it to get an outside service to design a high impact ad that you can use year after year. Always check with your ad agency to verify that you own the ad and will not have to pay annual royalty or licensing fees to use the ad in subsequent years or in multiple books. Agency costs for ad design vary greatly so shop around. Expensive ad designs may not reflect a higher quality nearly as much as they reflect higher profits for the egocentric design firms. A good ad of most any size can be done for $300-$500. In any event, remember that companies would not advertise in yellow pages if it did not work - try it out!