Lest you think I was being supremely creative with this title, I have to give credit for the concept to Steve Averill who writes the OCBizblog blog which he claims is “…an award-winning (?) small business marketing blog boasting more than 5,000 followers most of whom are located in Orange County, California….” Boo-ya for him. His most recent missive was 10 Reasons Why The Yellow Pages is the Drunk Uncle of Advertising.
Now normally I would chalk commentary like this up to someone who really doesn’t understand how small business advertising works and just move on. But his comments were far too tempting to ignore. So let’s have some fun and test his 10 Reasons to see how if maybe, just maybe he has things a little backwards:
1. He just shows up one day on your doorstep unannounced. Yes, the print Yellow Pages is free, doesn’t require any power, any special connections, any technical expertise to operate, doesn’t attract spam email or viruses, and when the newest version arrives, the old version can be fully recycled. Should I keep going on this one, as it isn’t even a fair fight? I guess in Orange County they don’t get email spam or bogus text messages like those that I do now. Steve: you’re missing the excitement of all of the neat things inside that book.
2. He talks a big game. True. By why? Distributed free to every home and business, vs. at best 80% penetration of broadband in US (note: key word is “adoption”, not exclusive use of Internet and nothing else). For advertisers, Yellow Pages has an ROI for advertisers of at least 10 to 1 (CRM Associates research). If 70+% of businesses in the print directory are at least renewing each year, but 50+% of online advertisers are churning year to year, which one really works better for SMB’s?? As our esteemed Vice President would say, yes, Yellow Pages is a big ___ deal. Really big.
3. He’s always asking for money. I’m a little puzzled with this one. Is he suggesting that buying Google Adwords is free for advertisers? How about getting that Internet connection to begin with? The average household pays about $150 for a first time connection fee for broadband services and then monthly fees ranging from $50 to $130 depending on how much data you need/use. And all of these hi-tech gizmo’s cost: ____. Fill in the blank based depending on which device(s) you get. All I know is my cell bill, with my new iPhone hasn’t been under $100 a month since I got it..For users, it seems to me that it’s the other way around.
For advertises, they know right up front how much a print Yellow Pages ad is going to cost. When they start spending money in the online world, they really don’t know how far they will need to go to bring in the level of business leads they need.
4. He’s completely unreliable. Huumm. Also not sure what the point is here. Where does he think most of those listings you find on the Internet come from? Perhaps if he looked at the Yellow Pages he would know. And how do those listings get to a printed telephone book? Each publisher reviews and scrubs them for accuracy. Most books are then scanned/rekeyed to create those databases you encounter online. So help me. Define “unreliable”.
5. He’s old. So’s my wife, but that doesn’t mean I have ditched her for the flavor dejour. If he’s complaining that Yellow Pages has a 150 or so year track record working with a very diverse range of small/midsized businesses to help them bring more leads to their doors, well, go ahead and complain. New is not always better.
6. He thinks it’s 1982 and yellow is a fashionable color. Ok let’s compare: a Yellow Pages rep walks in the door of a local business and identifies that are from an established provider of local print and online Yellow Pages, a recognized product that businesses have been spending money in year in and year out. The rep and publisher contribute to local community efforts like the Little League, his kids probably babysit for some of the business owners kids, and the rep buys products because he lives in that same community as that small business.
The other option is a rep from XYZ Local Search Daily, who’s been in business for maybe 10 minutes, only sells products for which he can’t guarantee anything such as consistent first page Google results, has to explain an alphabet soup of acronyms so the business owner understands what he is buying, and in reality, has the same services that could be bought from the next guy through the door. Which one do you think has a higher trust level beginning their conversation?? I think Yellow is a beautiful color, combined with some black it is a powerful combination.
7. He thinks all the information he spews out is meaningful. I have to agree with Mr. Averill on this one. I don’t need a fencing company each year. But I did need one last month. Where did I look for local company? In the print Yellow Pages. I’ve never had a problem with my garage door opener. Ever. Until two weeks ago. Where did I look for local company? In the print Yellow Pages. In the past two weeks, I haven’t used the print Yellow Pages. Not once. Tomorrow? Not sure what the next need for a local product or service is going to look like. And while that phonebook is sitting idely by for two weeks – it hasn’t used any power, attracted no viruses or spam, and is still ready to go a moments notice.
If there are upwards of 4000 potential headings in a print Yellow Pages, I’ll bet most people wouldn’t need more than a handful of them in a normal year. But do you know when you’ll need the info in the other 3995 headings next??
8. He thinks television is technology. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey — 2010 Results: Watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time (2.7 hours per day), accounting for about half of leisure time, on average, for those age 15 and over. So if you watch TV is this guy implying I’m stupid? Or I guess if I don’t have the latest hi-tech device I must be 90 years old.
9. He thinks shouting is advertising. A print Yellow Pages has no audio button, so…?? However, I have visited a number of websites recently that feel compelled to blast me with a video the second I reach the site, a video I didn’t ask for, that I can’t stop until it runs fully, and with an audio level that seems to be at about 100 decibels. I think that would classify as worse than shouting.
10. He’s a big fat waste of space. At the recent Local Search Association conference (the Yellow Pages Association for you old timers like me), research showed that the results on the call tracking lines in the print Yellow Pages were up at least 20% year over year. Seems like someone is using those books and turning those walking fingers into phone dialing so they can buy local products and services..
Sorry Uncle Yellow, but that’s the way it is. Sorry, Steve Averill, you don’t get it. There are more information sources these days, no argument there. Heck, I sit in front of two compueters all day long. But I’m not using those to shop locally. Surf for info, a little social networking (but don’t tell my boss please), email (far too much of it), and a whole bunch of other things. But not buying locally for a product or service I don’t know a lot about.
Steve, my friend, there is still time for you to retrieve that book from the recycle bin (kudos for at least doing that). Check it out. You will find some pretty amazing stuff, even things like coupons that can help you save money. We understand your ignorance, but we won’t hold it against you….