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Should Small Business Advertise in the Yellow Pages Phone Book?

Updated on June 10, 2013
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First and foremost, I'd like to state something that others do not: I AM A BUSINESS OWNER (I own several LLC's and have employees). If I had to guess, I would say that 90% of what you read is NOT written by people who own businesses and is instead written by people who either simply want to write content or people who read something on another site and regurgitate the content; either way, you're not getting *accurate* information. So today we shall discuss the reality of yellow page advertising.


I have a store in a 22-space plaza. My store is in the center of the plaza and I have clear view of the community waste-management garbage bin (dumpster). On the day the Yellow Pages are delivered, I can watch the business employees, one by one, walk their Yellow Pages to the trash and chuck it in. I do the same. - I guess this article is off to a great start in regard to answering your question, eh?

How Much Does It Cost to Advertise In The Yellow Pages?

An ad is only as good as its placement. Any form of print ad requires prime placement and knowledge of how placement works. An excellent placed ad will run you around $7,000 - $24,000 a year. $24,000 a year is $2,000 PER MONTH. Think of what you could do with $2,000 a month!


I would respond to "who reads the yellow pages" by saying "nobody", but that isn't true. However the demographic of reader is without a doubt nobody I know. I am 32 and I don't think I have even opened a Yellow Pages since...hmmmm.... 1999? Actually, I retract that statement; when I was selling on eBay in 2005/2006-ish I used to rip out pages of the Yellow Pages to use as shipping material, which did require me to open the Yellow Pages.

At one point in my late teen-years I was a telemarketer and we used to use the White Pages to call and solicit people.

In 2013, I don't know a single individual who uses the Yellow Pages. My parents even use the internet and their smart phones to look up information. I do the same, my friends (ages 25 - 47) do the same. My employees are in their later-teens to mid-twenties and I don't think they know what The Yellow Pages is. KEEP IN MIND: A 17-year old was BORN when cell phones were already around (and after 2Pac was dead and even after the Tonya Harding arrest & charged for attack of skater Nancy Kerrigan - and to make you feel even older, in 1994, the OJ Simpson / LA cops chase his Ford Bronco for 1½ hours on live television.)

So WHO reads the Yellow Pages?... I think the answer is pretty clear...


Here's one of the biggest issues; lets say your running lots of marketing campaigns to generate business - how are you going to know where the business comes from? Unless you pay for an insanely expensive Yellow Pages Advertisement that people can actually "cut out" (or print), you will have no way of determining the traffic source is the YellowPages.

Here's the complications for most businesses: I am a little different because I went to school for Graphic Design, so for me, making my own coupons (and not paying for the graphic design) saves me ungodly amounts of money a year for professional grade coupons. I can then make a separate coupon for each entity I PLACE my coupon on with a code or design that allows me to know where my redeemed coupon came from. For example, this particular coupon (mine is the pink one in the center):

was a coupon I made. I split the cost of the ad with a fellow local business and made the coupon valid for 20% off total purchase at either business (our business are located 6 miles apart).

i have never used this same design for any other coupon, so if redeemed I know the source is Pizza Box Advertising.

I have made coupons for fundraisers, charity events, etc that are each different:

Coupon Example 1

Coupon Example 2:

Even My Own Business Cards for Certain Events With Coupon on Back

Anyways, like I was saying; each time a coupon is redeemed, I know where it came from. When you have to keep reusing the same coupon over and over because you don't want to pay for revisions, you end up not knowing where each coupon came from.

In addition, paying for your phone number and address to be included in the Yellow Pages doesn't exactly "help" because (unless you ask every caller where they got your number), you have the same issue: unknown traffic sources.

The problem with not knowing your traffic sources is that you are going to be continually throwing away money on marketing that ISN'T working as opposed to focusing on channels that ARE working.


My business gets more customers based of FREE internet advertising than anything:








Free Local Ad Listings

Having a website

Being listed in the Verizon Navigation Search Directory

Being listed on Google Local Businesses


So why pay for what is free? Yes, it takes time to create all of the above; but spending time for something that lasts forever is a better deal than spending money on something that doesn't and equally does not have guaranteed results of any kind.

If you want to spend money on advertising, invest in the best promotional products and give them away for free. They will bring you far more business because you can drop coupons everywhere for "free (promotional item name); no purchase necessary" and drive people into your establishment OR "free (promotional item name) with X-amount of purchase"


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I disagree. Yellowpages is still showing a great return on investment- It is a directional source for finding local busineses when I am in need of a service. The internet is not complete and it's very frustrating when saturated with national advertisers.

    • Poshbytori profile imageAUTHOR

      POSH by tori boutique 

      5 years ago from 1545 Union Lake Road, Commerce, MI, 48382

      An excellent point. And also, with smartphones let's say I want to find a local restaurant, I can speak into my phone and have all of the information, including phone number pop right up as well as the driving directions to the place.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      If you are finding a telephone number for somebody, turning over to white pages does not provide you the same results as you are looking. Most of the people don’t have numbers unlisted now, and if you are seeking for some person who lives far away from nearby area, you are not going to locate them anyway. Nowadays, internet has many options for you so that you can find a phone number, even if you are looking for the vague and unlisted phone number. Because of this reason, phone directories have now been less used as everything now has been available online through yellow pages. In point of fact, yellow pages website is nothing, but the same customized yellow pages of phone directory planned in the internet for a very easy contact. These internet web pages render the available information of your business as well as residential listing, maps, reviews and the close by attractions.

    • Poshbytori profile imageAUTHOR

      POSH by tori boutique 

      5 years ago from 1545 Union Lake Road, Commerce, MI, 48382

      UPDATE: Today, 6-21-2013, I spoke to a fellow business owner. He advertised this month in the Yellow Pages. He owns a window washing business. HE IS BEING CHARGED $20 PER CALL, even if the caller DOES NOT HIRE HIS SERVICES. According to him, he has already had several issues of "billing errors". As he described, he was asked to select which cities he wanted to advertise in. He selected 4 cities, however, calls are coming in from areas outside of these cities (some are an hour drive or more away). He then is required to "dispute" the charges which he says is becoming a headache. He has also had to remit a $20 payment for numerous calls that did not partake in his services; which costs more than $20 because he must drive to each location and submit a quote. Many people have called "out of curiosity" just to get a quote and never had intention of "buying" per say.

      Here's how this works: YP will give you a YP phone number that is linked to your phone. Each time someone calls the YP number, it costs you (even if there's "no deal").

      In my friends case, he has had about 35 calls (35 calls x $20 a call = $700 out of pocket to YP). His average job can be as low as $20 and as much as $200. At a 66% sales-rate, he has closed about 23 deals out of 35 calls. At an average of $100 gross per cleaning, he has made $2,333 (before driving costs, equipment, solutions, time, taxes, etc). If you account for the advertising cost, this is WORSE THAN EBAY! Yellow Pages is taking roughly 1/3 OFF THE TOP... Then you need to factor in all expenses and time!

    • soconfident profile image

      Derrick Bennett 

      5 years ago

      Those yellow pages alternatives are actually more effective. Great point!


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