A group called Ron Sachs Communications based in Tallahassee, FL, recently issued a press release with a “stunning” national poll, that “…more than 60 percent of Americans identify the phone book as an increasingly irrelevant source for finding local telephone numbers…” As a result “…its future looks bleak as its obsolescence increases among younger Americans…”
I wish I had a nickel for all these predictions over the last 10+ years. I’d have more money than Donald Trump… This poll was supposedly conducted with 1,100 adults as part of another piece of research, but the company offers no insight on how the poll was conducted or the questions used.
Netherless, in the spirit of the recent holiday season, for some ongoing jollies, let’s look at some of their studies findings:
- Nearly 8 out of 10 people 18-29 years old have no use for the phone book => one of my favorites. And is that the demographics served by most businesses?? I don’t think so. How many of you had much money to spend at that age to begin with?? How many of you went thru any of the “life events” which we know drive usage of the print yellow pages during that age??
- Nearly one quarter of Americans discard their phone books immediately with one third of Americans under the age of 45 reporting they immediately throw away their phone books when delivered to their door => even if these stats are correct, that means 75% of homes keep the books, or for those under 45, 2/3rds have it?? If we compared that to TV viewship, radio, magazines, or any other creative media, what results do you think we’d get there? Yet businesses continue to toss billions in advertising into each of these media despite their questionable ROI.
- Nearly half of all respondents expect to use their phone book either much less or not at all in 5 years => Can anyone tell me what the media world will look like in 5 years? Which devices will we have? How fast and complete will the internet be? What’s next after the Internet? Can you answer any of these even just 3 years out?? How about 2 years? Businesses advertise in the print yellow pages because they are looking for results NOW, not what may or may not happen in 5 years. Let the study creator suggests that “…the phone book is on life support and local businesses should expect its death to officially occur some time in the next few years,”. Bully for you. I’m glad your crystal ball is that good. But the reality is that local businesses are only worried about how the next 6 months are going to be for them.
There is no doubt that usage of the print yellow pages is down from what it once was. We have so many other ways and methods to obtain information these days. But to suggest that print is dead right now is completely silly. And even if it was, how does Mr. Sachs think all that stuff about local businesses is going to make to the Internet or our wireless devices?? By osmosis?? No other industry is better positioned to work with small and mid-sized business to help them realize the potential of these many new digital platforms.
No, print isn’t going away tomorrow. But if, and when its overall usage does drop off, the industry will be ready to help its clients continue to link buyers to those sellers.