Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Guerrilla Marketing Time Machine: Yellow Pages

Note: This week we are examining "Old School" marketing techniques to see if they still have oomph. Jay Conrad Levinson's 1993 edition of Guerilla Marketing is our reference book.

Yellow Pages
All the yellow pages reps in Central Texas love me! (sarcasm intended) The thing is, except in rare occasions, I just don't think that yellow pages advertising is a wise investment of your marketing kitty. Let's look at what Levinson says, and then I'll add my rant.

In Chapter 15 of Guerrilla Marketing, Levinson says that you can turn yellow pages into gold. In fairness, he does say that not all businesses can benefit from yellow pages. My take is that most businesses cannot benefit from yellow pages advertising. I'll explain why shortly.

How To Do Yellow Pages
If you do have to advertise in the Yellow Pages, Levinson gives this advice:

  1. Determine the geographic make-up of your customer base and decide whether or not you need to be in more than one directory.

  2. You will probably need to list yourself in more than one category.

  3. Don't use your other advertising to direct customers to your yellow pages ad unless you have the biggest ad.

  4. When readers go to the yellow pages, they are in a buying mood. You should be selling.

  5. Ask a "say yes" question in your ad.

Jay vs. The Yellow Pages
So what's my beef with yellow pages? Besides being the most difficult media to purchase, it's just not as effective as it used to be.

The culprit? Google, and the other search engines. Let's face it. It's much more convenient to use Google than it is to use the yellow pages. That point is illustrated beautifully by Newt Barrett over at Content Marketing Today.

Newt's done some great research on the declining relevance of yellow pages advertising, including this well-researched piece: Is It Time to Abandon Your Yellow Pages Advertising?

There is a local business (sorry can't give his name away) who spends $50 a month on Google AdWords and he gets more response that most businesses get with their $500+ per month yellow pages ad. $50 a month!

No Longer A Guerrilla Tactic
So this is one guerrilla marketing tactic that didn't survive the new millennium. Small businesses would be better served to invest money in basic search engine optimization and Google AdWords than yellow pages.

I will ad this one plug for yellow pages. Just one. The older the demographic, the more likely they will use yellow pages to search for local businesses. So if your customers are old or they are not internet savvy, they you might consider yellow pages.

If I wake up in the morning and my house is TP'd, I'll know it was a yellow pages rep.

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