Do Yellow Pages Ads Work?

I recently created a yellow pages ad for one of my clients. At first they were a bit hesitant to go with a yellow pages ad as it seems quite expensive and many advertisers will tell you it doesn’t work.

A yellow pages ad is not the right tool for everyone but the research we did with my client’s customers clearly established that directories were the second most likely place their customer would look to find a company in their industry (the first was word of mouth).

For products or services that are not a regular purchase or where the customer does not know much about buying that product or service, the yellow pages are a natural place for them to look. And the extra benefit is that if the customer is looking in the yellow pages then they are probably about to buy RIGHT NOW!

From a marketing point of view, the secret to a successful yellow pages ad is to touch the hot buttons that motivate a purchase. Most yellow pages ads are not effective because they don’t say how they help the customer nor how the advertiser is different from the rest of the rabble that are also listed. Its easy to see. Open a yellow pages directory to any category and you are likely to see something like:

  • free estimates
  • Visa and Master Card
  • quality full service

and other similar statements that probably all of the companies in that category also claim.

A successful yellow pages ad, has a strong headline that is relevant to the customer’s needs and the content of the add explains how the company is better than the alternatives. I particularly like using two stage ads where there is an offer for something that genuinely helps educate the customer about how to buy. This is particularly useful in industries where the customer is likely to perceive risk in the purchase. Either they know nothing about that product or service or it has a high cost or some major downside if they chose the wrong supplier.

The offer can be a free booklet on that particular product or service or perhaps a CD or video. The idea is to help the customer along the purchasing cycle and to give the opportunity for your company to build trust.


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