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Things to Consider Before Advertising in the Yellow Pages

Updated on October 17, 2012

The Yellow Pages Then...

Most people are familiar with the Yellow Pages. It has been a household word, better yet a household FIXTURE, since it arrived on the scene in 1910.

Ruben Donnelly first birthed the concept in 1886, but Loren M. Berry is the man who ran with it and made the Yellow Pages the business directory that it is today.

This powerful advertising tool has been so successful because it is beneficial to businesses and consumers alike. Need a product or service? Turn to the Yellow Pages. Everything from restaurants to auto repair to dry cleaners to beauticians...even doctors and in there. "Let your fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages." was their jingle; "Find it fast in the Yellow Pages" their slogan.

The Yellow Pages Now...

Who knew that a time would come when the Yellow Pages might be a thing of the past! Though ever present, it is not the dominant fixture it once was.

The Internet Age has made quick directory service available. Just enter a keyword in your search and possibilities come up.

NOTE: Not every possibility will come up. Only the ones with a website and search engine presence will show. Many quality businesses that can help you will not make the cut or be there at all. Online Yellow Pages is now available. Not quite as comprehensive as the print version, but it's catching up.

So, let's take a closer look at what the Yellow Pages is designed to do and see whether you should take the plunge with your advertising dollars.

The Yellow Pages is Directional Advertising

The Yellow Pages helps businesses reach their local market. It places ads alongside their competition, which is a good thing. Why? The use of the Yellow Pages is need-based. Consumers who have need of a product or service look up the category that corresponds to it. So, you will want your information to be right there with those who do what you do!

Car broken down? Turn to "Automobile-Repair" to find a list of those who fix cars. Lawn got weeds? Turn to the "Lawn Care & Maintenance" heading. Everything and anything can be found in the Yellow Pages.

The Yellow Pages is directional advertising. Directional advertising "directs" the reader to the information that will help him decide who to call. Think of your Yellow Page heading as a street. The street of "Automobile Repair" has many garages. Each has a sign in front -- i.e. their Yellow Pages ad. The size of the sign and information on it will help the potential customer decide where to drive in.

Which business wins the inquiry? Depends on the need. Perhaps the store hours matter. Your hours could get them to call you. If they want to use a credit card, the fact you mentioned "Visa" or "American Express" could determine whether it is your number that they dial. Directional advertising gives enough information to direct the flow of potential customers to call or visit you.

Facts they will want to know:

  • location
  • hours
  • credit cards
  • services rendered
  • web address for online orders
  • specials (discounts and coupons*)

*Tip: Businesses such as pizzerias and restaurants can benefit greatly by putting money-saving coupons in the Yellow Pages. Others may display their menus to help people make decisions before coming in. Many people keep a copy of the Yellow Pages on hand for that feature alone!

The Yellow Pages Advertising Plan

Advertising in the Official Yellow Pages* works best with a larger advertising plan. It is possible to enjoy success advertising exclusively in the Yellow Pages, but the best "bang for the buck" is using it as part of a larger picture.

*Official Yellow Pages? What's that? The Official Yellow Pages is the business advertising directory published by your local phone company. They issue a set of two phone books. One is the "white pages" where residential and business telephone numbers are displayed alphabetically by name, with the address of their location included. These telephone numbers are obtained straight from the telephone company records and are, therefore, the most complete and up to date.

The second--the large yellow one--is the Yellow Page Directory. It is set up as a catalog of business types and services, listed alphabetically by headings. In the Official Yellow Pages, all businesses that are listed in the white pages receive one free listing under the heading that best describes them. It makes it more complete. Ads with more information can be purchased.

Tip: There are other Yellow Page-like directories. These competitors of the official version look very much the same but they are not necessarily as up to date or complete. They do still take up the space on a shelf, though, which can be a drawback to any yellow page directory. They're big! Customers who want a copy at all are not likely to want to keep two or three.

Should You Advertise in the Yellow Pages?

Things to consider before advertising in the Yellow Pages:

Who are your customers? If they are predominately within your telephone calling area, the Yellow Pages could be a good investment. If your business is based on internet sales, the Yellow Pages will not do as much for you.

What is your competition doing? This may indicate whether your type of business benefits from Yellow Page advertising or not. If there is not a healthy presence in your industry, it may be best to get your free listing placed under the right heading and call it a day.

Can you afford it? Yellow Page advertising is a financial commitment that lasts from the publication of the phone book until the next one is issued. In some cities that is 12 months, in others it may be as much as 18 months or more. You will be billed on your monthly telephone bill unless you prefer to pay the entire thing in advance. Any way you look at it, you are committed for the duration. If you fall behind, your telephone service could be suspended until the balance is brought current. That would be devastating for most businesses.

How much to spend? If you are going to advertise, resist the temptation to decide at the first meeting. Talk with your Yellow Pages rep. Get the rates. Learn the ad types and all of the headings where your ad could appear. Then sit on it. Take time to go through the Yellow Pages on your own. Take notes on the headings, who and what appears there. Some may have large ads and it makes sense to get one, too. In other cases, a small business-card style ad may be all that is needed. Small ads can do a lot.

Finally, go over your advertising budget to decide what the bottom-line will be. You don't have to make up your mind that day but do be aware of their deadlines. To avoid mistakes, it is best to get your order in early enough to get to see a proof. That way, if there is an error or addition that you want to make, there will be time. That ad will be out there for at least one year. It needs to be right!

Tie Your Advertising In With Other Venues

What else will you do to get the most out of this ad? Yellow Page advertising is great when someone needs your services, turns to that heading and then contacts you.

Often, though, this is only part of the process. To get your business in front of the public - so that your name becomes a trusted brand in your community - newspaper, direct-mail, radio and television advertising are more effective.

When people NEED you, though, that's when they will turn to the Yellow Pages. It is unlikely they will have saved the newspaper or direct-mail piece or have written down your phone number when they heard it on radio or TV. The Yellow Pages is the tie-in. It is what will finally get them in the door.

Food for thought: if you do have a Yellow Pages presence in your local phone book, many of your competitors will be there, too. Their ad may even help to direct business to you.

How's that? Let's say you own a small towing business called "24 Hour Towing" and "A-Plus Towing" is a big business with a large, pricey ad under the same heading. It is possible that your smaller ad will still catch someone's eye, though they thought they were looking for A-Plus Towing. Your ad is nearby. They may like that your location is nearer to where they are. Or, maybe A-Plus doesn't have round-the-clock service but you do. Whatever the situation, being visible near your competition is good.

Is There A Time That Yellow Page Advertising Doesn't Work?

Many businesses sell regionally, nationally or globally. Amazon, for instance. Their business is totally online and global. It doesn't make sense for them to be in the telephone book at all. In fact, it's best for them to receive inquiries by email, not telephone, wherever possible. They are that big.

If you do sell regionally, and it makes sense to be in a number of phone books, you can easily buy advertising in them all. Your Yellow Pages rep will be happy to help you to set that up. And, how do you find a Yellow Pages representative? Find them the Yellow Pages!

About the Author...

Sinea Pies is a freelance writer who writes frequently on HubPages, GVParent Magazine, WebAnswers and her own website: Ducks 'n a Row.

Photo Credits: Mobile Phone by jarpur on Stock.xchng Phone Book image used in divider by FreeStockPhotos


Submit a Comment

  • Sinea Pies profile imageAUTHOR

    Sinea Pies 

    5 years ago from Northeastern United States

    Rebecca E., thanks so much for the super-compliment! I also consider your writing to be top notch! Years ago I worked for the yellow pages...the concepts remain the same. It is tried and true.

  • Rebecca E. profile image

    Rebecca E. 

    5 years ago from Canada

    This is a great article, but I've come to expect nothing less from you. I didn't know half of these things but it is good to have a bit of advice to make life better. Yellow pages might be in my future but I'll need to think on that.

  • Sinea Pies profile imageAUTHOR

    Sinea Pies 

    6 years ago from Northeastern United States

    Thanks ChristyWrites. It is a big commitment so businesses would do well to check the ins-and-outs before launching ahead. Like I said, many businesses still do quite well off of Yellow Pages ads.

  • ChristyWrites profile image

    Christy Birmingham 

    6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

    Your guide will be useful to any business considering applying to the Yellow Pages. I vote up, useful, and interesting. I am sharing over on Twitter as well!

  • Sinea Pies profile imageAUTHOR

    Sinea Pies 

    6 years ago from Northeastern United States

    Thanks so much, MsDora. I appreciate the big votes and nice compliments. :)

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 

    6 years ago from The Caribbean

    Your facts are so well-arranged, but then you're a professional writer. Enjoyed the hub. Thanks for the information and the reminder that the Yellow Pages still exist. Voted Up and Useful.

  • Sinea Pies profile imageAUTHOR

    Sinea Pies 

    6 years ago from Northeastern United States

    Thanks, always exploring. Your experience is typical of many. Rest assured, if the day comes that "no one" is using it, they will go away. My hope is that they will come up with a similar concept online. Having your ad next to your competition is very effective.

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Richert 

    6 years ago from Southern Illinois

    I rarely use the yellow pages any more. The internet is so much faster. Your Info. was interesting. I had no idea how long yellow pages had been around. Thank you..

  • Sinea Pies profile imageAUTHOR

    Sinea Pies 

    6 years ago from Northeastern United States

    You are right, Frank. More and more it is being replaced with online searches. There still is a market for it, though...even if for an older generation that may not be comfortable with the internet. Someday it may be gone. We have a friend with a house painting business who does quite well off his yellow page ad, so there are still some people who use it.

  • Frank Atanacio profile image

    Frank Atanacio 

    6 years ago from Shelton

    Pies.. I didn't even realize people still use the yellow pages.. everytime the phone companydrops them off I see them all in the recyling bins in my town..hmmm.. a very good hub though

  • Sinea Pies profile imageAUTHOR

    Sinea Pies 

    6 years ago from Northeastern United States

    Teaches12345, I feel so privileged to have the opinion of an expert on this hub. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and the big vote up.

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 

    6 years ago

    As a marketing professor, I love this hub post! I was fascinated by your facts and enjoyed reading through this. I learned lots and am sharing with my students. Voted way up!


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