You know what really grinds my gears? When ancient companies (I’m looking at you Yellow Pages) tell unsuspecting customers flat out lies to make sales.
I recently had a conversation with a business owner who was at a cross roads. His business was growing enough that he was getting plenty of customers to keep busy. But not enough customers to fill the two locations that he had. Plus, he didn’t have enough man power to take care of two locations.
So there were two choices: hire someone for a second location and improve marketing or scale back. He was leaning towards the first choice.
When considering different marketing options he brought up a conversation he had with a representative from Yellow Pages.
In the past, Yellow Pages have been a great source of business for many local businesses. But that’s in the past.
Who uses the Yellow Pages any more? I don’t. I don’t know anyone who does. A study by Harris Interactive showed that 70% of American “rarely or never” use the Yellow Pages…and that study was done over three years ago!
I wouldn’t make a blanket statement that marketing in the Yellow Pages is useless for everyone. There are some demographics it may still work for. But the truth is, it is getting to a point where it will be useless for everyone.
Even Yellow Pages themselves admit that digital is the future. And that is why they’re pushing digital…a bit too hard…
Bold Lies from Big Brands
Recognizing that digital is the future, the Yellow Pages are trying to move an outdated business model online. The problem is they aren’t very honest with the benefits they claim.
At least this particular rep wasn’t. And I assume that, what is essentially a call center, has scripts they adhere to.
This small business owner was told that, in order to be found online, he should really be listed on the Yellow Pages website. And while if he paid the fee (well over $100/month), they would let him have the small ad in the printed version for free.
Moreover, he was told that having a listing on the YP website would help him get found on Google!
When was the last time you’ve seen the Yellow Pages anywhere near the top of Google’s results? It would have to be an extremely uncompetitive search.
Google has no reason to place YP’s pages in the results because they are essentially a competitor to Google+ Local listing (which are free by the way).
Any other directory service is likely to have plenty of user generated content and reviews (think Yelp and Angie’s List).
In fact, in almost all cases the only way the Yellow Pages help you with Google Rankings is if you link to your website (and it’s not a very powerful backlink).
In essence, what this business owner was told was a bold faced lie.
Some Real Alternatives
There are some real, effective alternatives to the Yellow Pages for most businesses.
First of all, go grab yourself a free Google Places listing. Optimize it for the right keywords and you’ll be right in front of your customers. At least the ones searching on Google. Which happens to be way more than are using Yellow Pages.
That YP listing money is better spent on other forms of marketing like AdWords or SEO.
Of course, I am a strong proponent of SEO, as the organic results are deemed more trustworthy by consumers and get more clicks than the ads do. And it gives you more room to get creative.
Like a video ad that our client has been running:
A video ad like is a much better alternative than a YP listing in almost all cases. And because I’m pretty fired up about YP’s shameless efforts, I’m going to do something about it…
The “I’m Mad As Hell at YP” Offer…
To be honest, I was nothing short of shocked when I heard this. You normally expect big brands and companies to be at least somewhat honest and forthright about the benefits of what they offer.
But this wasn’t the case. The main selling point was a flat out lie.
To me, this is not a victim-less “crime.” So through the end of the month, I’ll be doing a price match on my video ad service for anyone that is currently paying Yellow Pages*. And everyone else gets 20% off the regular investment (email with subject line YPSale).
Again…through March 31st.
But the truth is, this may not be for you…
This Isn’t For You If…
I recently met with a couple who had a great business idea. I know they’ll do great because it’s the type of business that pulls at your heart strings. And they have a lot of great ideas in place.
One not so great idea was SEO, however. Their idea is fairly unique. It’s not one people would search for specifically. They would have to rank for national umbrella terms that aren’t very targeted…plus they’ll likely have more business from their local outreach efforts than they know what to do with.
The truth is, I would never even think about a business like theirs unless it was put in front of me…then I would want to buy.
So this is not a service for businesses that are unique and not so clearly “searchable.”
But then again, if you are a victim of the Yellow Pages, chances are yours business is searchable. So shoot me an email and let’s get you a video ad that people will actually see.
*There are some qualifications you will have to meet as I can’t do this for everyone (based on competition, etc.). And I will have to cap this discount at the first 10 people to raise their hand.