Are the Yellow Pages dead as a form of advertising?

Sometime late last year, I came home and entered our building on the main level – and I noticed that the yellow pages were delivered to our front stoop.  Although embarrassing, it was several months before one of my neighbors, or our maintenance man threw them away.  I actually left them there on purpose – to see if anyone would actually pick one up and use one.  I don’t think anyone did.

Is Yellow Pages marketing dead?

I have a great friend that I’ve known for probably 15 years or so – my buddy Tom.  How did I meet Tom?  Tom was my Yellow Pages Representative back when I was running my landscape contracting business.  Tom and I would get together regularly for lunch, talk business and marketing, and of course what our plans were in the next “book”…  I remember at the time spending $50,000 (YES, FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS) a year on multiple full-page ads in several of the books for our area.

It paid off.  In huge dividends.   Our phone rang and rang.  We picked up new clients.  Landscaping.  Lawn Care.  Maintenance.  Snow.  Lighting.  Irrigation.  Every segment of our business was growing, and we could attribute it to our Yellow Pages ads.  It worked.

Tom and I would tirelessly change the efforts year-after-year to keep that phone ringing.  It continued to work for probably 7 to 8 years, and then began to slow down.  To die.  To exceed its value in marketing dollars.

Then Tom said, “Let’s move to” – and, being a guy who loved the internet and spent equal time on our website presence, I said “Sure” – As Tom will attest, we struggled in that space too.  Ultimately, Yellow Pages was reduced to just our name and number in the book, at a cost of about $20/month.  That was 2006.

The question is – does advertising in the yellow pages actually work anymore?  I personally haven’t opened a book in YEARS.  With the advent of ready information on the internet, and even worse, iPhones and other Smart Phones, information about businesses and their phone numbers are SO easy to find.

I don’t know why, but my dads work phone number is not in my phone.  I just call his iPhone whenever I need him.  Or this kid and that dad text all day long too.  It’s true.  If you’ve ever heard me up on stage, you hear hilariously awesome stories about my dad, and his embracing the technology that was nothing when he was growing up.  He does pretty dang good.

My dad works for a large Kansas City based Ford Dealership.  He’s the “go to guy” for integrity based car repairs, maintenance, body shop work and everything in-between.  He’s a smart cookie when it comes to things like that.  Unlike me, of course.  I had to have some tire work done recently and my dad had to leave work early, and I wanted to pick my car up in the evening, after they had closed.  He texted me to call the dealership to pay the bill over the phone, and then they would park the car outside for me.  Perfect.  Oops, I never call my dad at work.

In the old world, that would mean I’d burn $1.50 or more calling 1411.  Or waiting until I was at home to look it up in the Yellow Pages or White Pages.  Nah.  I opened up my iPhone, typed the name of the car dealership into Google, and they had the first listing with a fancy “CALL” button which links you directly to the call.  Smart.   Easy.  Nimble.  Cheap.  Effective.

I use Google all the time to look up phone numbers I don’t know.   Do you?

Yellow Pages is dead.  And my buddy Tom agrees.  We talked about it just a few weeks ago, because Tom and I still get together regularly for lunch, talk business and marketing, and just don’t talk about the next “book”…

What marketing did you do that is now dead?  Or dying? 

Do you still use the Yellow Pages?  If so, does it work?

What new, cutting edge marketing drives your branding agenda now? 



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