The Rapid Decline of Yellow Pages Advertising

Since the beginning of this century, yellow pages use has been declining at a rapidly increasing rate, leaving small businessmen, who relied on those ads to generate leads, in a dilemma.  Yellow-pages salesmen have been referring to 10-year-old studies in order to sell their advertising.  The most recent official study I could find was over 5 years old, and even then in 2005, the average cost per call for yellow-pages advertising was over $26.00, $26.00 just for a lead, not a sale, and that was over 5 years ago.  Since then the decline has accelerated as people turn more and more to their computers and mobile devices to find what they want.

Here is an excerpt from Extinction Threatens Yellow-Pages Publishers by Emily Steel of the WSJ:
The yellow-pages industry is running out of lifelines.
In recent years, as its customers migrated to the Web -- flocking to sites like Google -- the telephone-directory business followed, hoping the Internet would be its salvation.
But that strategy hasn't panned out.
Now, the economic downturn is sending the already ailing business into a tailspin.
The audience for online yellow pages remains relatively small, and traffic growth is slowing....

Idearc, publisher of the Yellow Pages directories, was delisted from the NYSE on November 21, 2008.

Here is an excerpt from Quit wasting money on Yellow Page advertising by Peter Fernandez, D.C.:
Why has advertising in the Yellow Pages changed from one of the best ways to advertise to one of the worst in just a few years?
As author of the book "Yellow Page Advertising That Works For Chiropractic" -- the book the telephone companies use to sell D.C.s on advertising in the Yellow Pages -- I'm embarrassed when a doctor tells me their Yellow Page ad doesn't attract many new patients and they're stuck with a monthly expense in the thousands. When I wrote the book in 1983, the Yellow Pages was one of the best places to advertise. Today, it's almost a total waste of money.
Because of the poor performance of the Yellow Pages over the last 24 months, I have downsized the ads of over 90% of my clients. The low numbers of new patients generated didn't warrant the cost of the ad(s)....
The Internet Advertising Alternative
Google Business Center
So if people are turning to the internet rather than the phonebook to find products and services, what can a local business do to keep up?

Over 71% of people use Google to search for what they want, 14% use Yahoo and 9% use Bing, so obviously Google advertising brings the most results for a business that wants to keep things simple and just use one service.  Once a business has established a website to promote its product or service, it can then take the next step with a Google Adwords campaign.  Google ads appear alongside a potential customer's search results, and these ads can be specifically targeted to customers within the locale of the business.  But although these ads will only appear to customers within the business locale, the local business will still be competing with ads from national companies and may have to pay a relatively high cost per click (CPC - the way a business is charged for Adwords) in order for its ad to be prominent relative to the national competition.  See my Adwords article for more information.

However, Google is now offering a new solution for local businesses: which appear in Maps search results.  Many people use Google Maps to find businesses near them with the product or service they want.  Google Maps are more effective for people than a general web search because Google Maps yield only local results and show graphically exactly where those results are.  Google Tags are the internet equivalent of yellow pages advertising.  For $25 per month, the tag will appear under your business whenever it comes up in a Google Maps search result.  The tag makes your business stand out and acts as a quick link to your website or your restaurant menu or an image or video or even some specials or coupons you choose to advertise your business.  Any business can register at Google Places and submit its address, information, description, and website link so that it can be found by people searching in Google Maps.  Once your business location is confirmed by Google, you can then sign up for Google Tags.  See my Maps article for more information.

Beyond Google, there are also free and paid directories where you can list an ad for your business, and since these directories rank high in search results, they can be another good way to get your word out without competing head to head with the national companies.

If you would like help setting up an effective Google Adwords and advertising campaign for your local business, I only charge $125 as a one-time consultation and set-up fee.  I don't charge a monthly maintenance fee because I want you to get the most possible from your advertising dollar.  Instead, I show you how to analyze and manage you own ad campaign.  If you would like assistance refining your current campaign and exploring other internet advertising options, I have very reasonable rates.  And if you don't have a website for you business yet, I can help you create one.

10am to 6pm
(Pacific Standard Time)