Tag Archives: Small Pond Advertising

Why print Yellow Pages STILL work…

A couple of weeks ago on a Saturday night, the USA Network had the network TV premier of “Skyfall”, the newest of the 23 James Bond movies.

skyfall

I am a BIG Bond film fan having been raised on films that took me to places I had never been, and featured a really dapper guy who was always in control, no matter what the danger was. As a teenager, I marveled at how he always seemed to know what to say, especially around the girls.

I can tell you this TV movie was a big event in our household that evening.

So why should my fascination with James Bond be important to you? Only because we watched that entire movie on network TV and never had to sit through a single commercial. Why — because we recorded it, and then zipped thru the commercials.

But I’m not unique. Research indicates that over 50% of television viewers always skip through the advertising using some type of DVR set-top box that permits time-shifting an event.

So was all that advertising around that movie wasted?? At least half of it was. Question is: do the advertisers who paid big money to be shown during that movie know which half?

I am often asked the same question about our print, online, and mobile Yellow Pages. The answer may surprise you.

I’ll give you a hint – it’s about something called “life-events” which create major shopping episodes involving things we usually have little experience with, but more often involving BIG $’s.

And no one fast forwards through these ads….

covers combo

Well, here’s the truth: Unlike the TV, the Internet, or even mobile devices, Yellow Pages are not necessarily used every day; it is not even used routinely. According to CRM Associates, about 90% of its usage is “episodic”, driven by those pesky life events and “out-of-the-ordinary” events in people’s lives.

These events create major shopping activity; involving things we consumers have little experience with (replacing a roof, finding an assisted living residence for an aging parent, replacing a water heater, finding dental specialist). These events tend to involve big $ expenses. CRM Associates says the typical average amount people spend when they use our print, online, or mobile Yellow Pages is about $730.

Most of the types of purchases that fit these activities are service-related. So it should be no surprise that 80% of Yellow Pages’ top headings are service related. The strength of Internet and mobile maybe on the retail side; but the strength of Yellow Pages is, and always has been, on the LOCAL service side.

For major service jobs, such as air conditioning, plumbing, roofing, health care, and even financial planning support, the ideal customer for these businesses is typically someone at least in their 40’s, most likely in their 50s, 60s, or even their 70s.

This demographic is critical to the success of most local service businesses – and will continue to be so for the next several decades. How do we know this? Consider:

  • Over 80% of the nation’s financial assets are held by households 50 and over.
  • 61% of the national’s discretionary income is made by those over 44, and this group accounts for almost two thirds of spending in Yellow Pages top heading categories.
  • The number of people in this age group will increase 40% over the next 10-15 years.
  • And, this group is set to inherit over $11 trillion from their parent’s generation

And surprise – these people are the heaviest users of print, online, and mobile Yellow Pages…..

People want and trust local service providers. And even with all of the technology available these days, consumers still see Yellow Pages as the most credible source for information about local service providers. These Yellow Page products:

  • Have never been hacked,
  • No one’s identity has ever been stolen,
  • They don’t fill your mail box with junk mail or direct mail flyers for things you don’t need at that time
  • No special Internet connection, power source, or technology is needed – just your fingers

Yellow Pages in print, online, and mobile formats are the ultimate local shopping resource.

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Changes at YP Talk

Regular followers have noticed that YP Talk has been silent for several months now.  But it’s not without cause.

When you believe strongly in something, there are times when you have to step forward, plant a flag, and makes good things happen.  YP Talk has been silent because I recently acquired a small print and online Yellow Page operation in central Florida.  In this everything digital world many people want us to believe in, one has to ask, am I crazy?  I will let you the readers of YP Talk decide.  Here is the full story on the some compelling factors behind my acquisition.

  • First, it’s in Florida.  After three years in Kansas, while the people there are very nice, and having a chance to work for the Brock’s at Names & Numbers was certainly a pleasure, it was nice to sell our snow shovels at our final yard sale before moving
  • The books are LOCAL books.  We focus on LOCAL businesses.  In the Alarms section you will not see any ads from ADT – instead you will find the local alarm company Security Center.  In carpet cleaning, no Stanly Steamer, instead you will find Carpet Pro based here in Port Orange.  In the florists, no 800-Flowers, instead Port Orange Florist.  It doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t accept an ad from a national company.  But they need to have a strong local presence
  • All of the ad programs are bundles.  Buy a half page; get a dollar bill sized in another heading.  Online is bundled with print.  Add it all up — it comes to better VALUE for that local businesses advertising dollar as they can capture ready to buy customers no matter what format they are looking for them in.
  • We include white pages in the books, and in a format and font size you can actually read without a microscope.  We have many features which make the book a valuable RESOURCE for local consumers
  • The covers feature local art and photography
  • And most importantly, we have FAMILY here in the area.  It’s nice to be back on the east coast where most family is within driving distance of us.

Of course, half of the conversations I have with those local businesses start with them telling me that print is obsolete.  I nod my head and smile, but then ask that if that is true, how is Coleman Plumbing able to get OVER 100 calls a month from the call tracking number in their ad??  Or that local dentist, who has a very specialized practice bringing in 30-40 calls a month on his RCF??  Keep in mind anyone that gets in his chair is going to be spending over $1,500.  I then ask them to explain what I should make of the 6-10 calls we get a week from consumers asking for another copy of the book.  Note this isn’t New York city – there are only 25,000 households in the area.  If that isn’t enough, we run a contest which appears on the last page of the book where consumers can send us a list of businesses they found and use from the book, and we’ll enter them into a contest for a new TV.  The pile of responses is several inches thick.

When the VCR was invented, they predicted the end of movie theatres.   After that, the higher quality DVD will definitely kill those theatres now.  Well then along came Blue Ray which is so advanced, and we all have 100” big screen TV’s, so surely now we never go to those “obsolete” movie theaters do we?  I guess those $10.8 BILLION in ticket sales didn’t really happen then (source)?

We all have many choices and sources available to us when we are ready to make a buying decision.  Print and online yellow pages are just one of them.  I have had enough of apologizing for the industry, for the printing of millions of books each year (on recycled materials), for investing big bucks into online products that aren’t Google.  We provide a valuable service to local small businesses.  If you don’t believe me, come ride with me on a sales call where a frazzled small business owner looks you in the eye and admits they don’t have a clue on how to market their small business within the limited budget they have and can afford.  It takes a lot of courage for them to admit that.

For those that insist it has to be all digital, I sat fine.  But if I can’t help that local business define what they are about in the size of half page or quarter page print ad, how on earth are they going to know what/how to say in whatever digital format you think “everyone” uses?

At end of day, it’s not print OR digital.  It’s all about defining the key value message that business offers, no matter the platform, and then getting that message out.

So what does this acquisition mean for YP Talk?  For one thing after over nine years of writing this newsletter, this will be the last email I will push your way.  It’s not that I don’t think there are a lot of important topics related to this business to discuss – exactly the opposite.  It’s just that there aren’t enough hours in the day/week when you are the sales department, production, finance, marketing, and senior management.

I will continue to post my thoughts on this YP Talk blog from time to time. But mostly this message was just to tell all of you, thank you.  Thank you for your support.  Thank you for your comments both pro and con.  Thank you for the feedback on how you used the information we provided here.  There was nothing more gratifying then to bump into someone who mentioned they used an article to kick off a sales meeting, or sent another article to the marketing group asking how come we don’t have this.

Thank you to the suppliers that help make this industry what it is.  Their advertising support for this newsletter was key to so I could do this, and I really enjoyed hearing about all the new things they brought to the table.  It forced me to be current.

And lastly a big thank you to friends and family who also tolerated many years of me having to go run off and create a newsletter when I probably should have been spending more time with them.  Now I just bore them to death with my efforts as a local Yellow Page publisher.

And for those worried about the future – don’t be.  You will find as I have, that about every 5 years or so you will be reinventing yourself as the marketplace changes, as companies change, as technology changes, even as you change.  But do count your blessings as you are now working in the most exciting industry out there, one that is changing for sure, but still brings huge value to every community and business it touches.  How many industries can say that?

Peace be with you.