Once upon a time a nasty little flea challenged an elephant to a duel, but the elephant didn’t notice and it made the flea angry. But who cares about the feelings of a nasty little flea?
Once the Yellow Pages was a marketing behemoth. It’s weaknesses as an advertising medium were terribly frustrating to all her clients. But she did not care. She loved every minute of it. She and her minions, flush with power, forced lies down every throat, gleefully, as a way of doing business.
The problems of the medium were: inflexibility, bad service, haughty dismissiveness, cooked stats offered as facts. Personal injury law firms were their favorite target since they had a demonstrated tendency to go big. Sadly, so many of them fell for every lie year after year about how to improve their ads.
The single virtue of the medium was… IMMEDIACY! It’s where people went when they needed a product or service now. The flexibility and immediacy of Google — an advertising miracle from Claude Hopkins’ wildest dream — have made the Yellow Pages almost completely irrelevant for the new generation brought up on the Internet.
Is the Yellow Pages finished? Kaput?
Not yet, and they won’t disappear completely for a while. But let me go back to trashing the Yellow Pages for a minute more because it feels so good and it is so richly deserved by an institution that loved to disserve its clients as a matter of principle.
The Yellow Pages in Canada are running a disingenuous campaign that is positively sneer inducing.
They are trying to position themselves as the “Find Engine”.
Get it? Like, Google is merely a search engine…but the Yellow Pages is a FIND Engine…. ha! (Oh boy, I can see the high fives all around the brainstorming table over that one.)
But by now the Yellow Pages is the flea and Google is the elephant not even bothering to flick its tail.
Let’s pretend for just a minute that the Yellow Pages is a serious competitor of Google’s. How would they counter this brazen and ludicrous attack?
I see a television commercial. Two young people decide on pizza for dinner…one of them reaches for the Yellow Pages…the other orders pizza on google as the person is paging through a directory.
That’s the first fifteen seconds. Then one of them gets a text from cute Sophia in Tokyo, and she flirtingly asks them to send HER a pizza…one of the two walks into a room with stacks of Yellow Pages…looking for the Tokyo book…again, the suaver of the two orders Sophia a pizza in a few clicks.
Okay…so why would a consultant and expert in Yellow Pages advertising slam the medium which has fed him? Because the Yellow Pages was always sold dishonestly. Every thing was ALWAYS wrapped in a lie. And there was a central truth that could never be acknowledged.
Pow! Smack! Zow!
Here’s the truth: if the directory rep knew anything about effective print advertising — and trust me, they never did — they would have to withhold that knowledge from you because revealing it would be slitting their own throat. The directories depend on your ignorance and they have always “educated” their audience to as low an Advertising IQ as they could manage.
Get it? They were a pie splitting service pretending they were a customer service organization. The ads they helped you to craft were exactly a copy of what everyone else was doing. They wanted to make sure you didn’t get more than “your share”. But they always pretended they were helping you to “stand out”.
A business built on lies cannot stand. Who said that?
So, what should you do? If you are considering getting into the Yellow Pages, should you? If you are a personal injury firm advertising in the Yellow Pages, should you get out?
Not necessarily. Here’s the deal. If you track your response, then you should know what your ROI is. If your ROI is satisfactory, then stay where you are — for now. In the early part of this decade, I heard from many quarters how response rates from Yellow Pages directories were sinking like a stone. The question is…who will dominate this marketing rump? If your competitors are leaving and you are making money, it just might make sense to stay put for a few more years. But watch carefully!
Here’s the secret to using the Yellow Pages correctly, or any advertising medium. It’s a way to meet people to serve for a lifetime. The best purpose for advertising is to get people into your net so that you can astonish them with great service and great communication. The next stage is to make them a referral source for life.
The Yellow Pages is still a good way to fill the hopper with referrers. As long as you have the ROI.
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