Why Use the Yellow Pages for Your Marketing? Here are 3 Good Reasons

by Chris Brown on Sunday, February 17, 2008

Yellow Pages are dinosaurs

The Yellow Pages have become dinosaurs.  Just look at the pile of them that sit by the back door of my office building.  They’ve been sitting there for 2 months and no one in any of the businesses has even bothered to pick up their office copy.

More and more consumer and business buyers alike search Google.  Or an industry directory like Thomas Register.

Less and less people are let their fingers do the walking.

However, I can think of 3 good reasons to use the Yellow Pages:

  1.  WHEN YOUR TARGET MARKET IS over 55 years old.  This group is the slowest and least likely to embrace the internet for getting new information, according to the Pew Internet/American Life Project.  One of my clients is a cardiologist practice.  Most of his patients are over 65. Many still use the Yellow Pages to find him, so we developed an ad for him the Yellow Pages. And so, we actually opened the stack and picked up our office copy of the Yellow Pages to make sure they ran his ad correctly.
  2. TO HAVE AN ONLINE PRESENCE if you don’t have a good SEO for search terms in Google.  The Yellow Pages do get indexed regularly and can serve as an on line directory.  However, I find that the Yellow Pages in particular are slow to make corrections and just compile information so they make many mistakes.  Like placing my company’s fax line as the business line.  Or not updating our address for 18 months after we moved.  Or reporting our location about 12 miles from our actual location sending poor unsuspecting visitors on a wild goose chase. 
  3.  WHEN YOUR TARGET MARKET doesn’t have Internet access.  It’s easy to assume everyone is like you, with good internet access, but not everyone has it. In fact, almost 1 quarter of the popularion according to a 12/31/07 report from a survey issued by the Pew Internet/American Life project:

This report focuses on those with no access to the internet (23% of the population) and those with only dial-up access (13% of the population.) This population is poorer, older, and less well-educated than the cohort with broadband access at home or at work. They are less likely to visit government offices or libraries under any circumstances. And they are more likely to rely on television and radio for help than are high-access users.

So if your target market is this section of the population, Yellow Pages may be the right answer.

Two uses for the Book itself:

One more unexpected reason (to use the book, but not to advertise!): TO ENHANCE BRAINSTORMING as a warm up exercise to unlock your creativity. I can’t take credit for this one. It comes from Tim Johnson, a management consultant whose blog I follow.  He’s got a great creativity exercise that makes good use of those Yellow Pages big books.  Unlocking creativity, thinking “outside of the box” and coming up with new ideas is a big part of marketing.  Anything that serves to quickly release the creative juices and redirect that annoying analytical voice inside your head that refrains “that’s a dumb idea”, is a good tool to me. Thanks, Tim!

Market research companies, like InfoUSA and ReferenceUSA, still use Yellow Page information in gathering data and offer “years advertised” and “number of column inches” as results in their data.  This could be a hold over from many years of “doing it that way.”  I wouldn’t be surprised if these firms start gathering “number of indexed pages” or “Google page rank” as some of their criteria for reporting.  I think it might be a moving target, but with some programming, it might be a better reference for understanding types of companies.

One more bonus use for the big yellow book: A doorstop.

Hmm. I need to figure a good way to recycle these books. Wonder if they are littering other offices the same way. Too back I don’t know who to get to take these back. Anyone else know??

Tim, do you need some more books? I know where a good couple dozen are!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Timothy Johnson February 17, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Hi Chris – thanks for the nod and the link love. Glad you enjoyed the post. It is a great exercise and very useful.

I’ll let you know if I need any more phone books. Luckily for me, Drake has an abundance of phone books lying around as well.

Chris Brown February 18, 2008 at 6:58 am

Tim:
Well, if you ever run out, I’m sure I can find some more for you!!
Chris

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