I did it. I was waiting for this day, I just thought I’d read about it first rather than be the one doing it. I told a yellow page rep that we didn’t want to be in the print edition of their book. How did they respond? Well, let’s first talk about why I decided to say what I did.
In pondering the yellow page industry, I came across a few notions. If I reverse-engineer their old jingle, I notice something interesting. “Let your fingers do the walking” was the slogan for a long time and it even had a catchy ring to it. You don’t hear it now because it doesn’t make sense in the 21st century.
Because it’s implying someone or something is walking and they suggest that your fingers should do it instead by flipping through their pages.
Clever. But wait a second! Who’s walking? and why?
Let’s hop in the DeLorean and go back to a time before phone books. If I was a consumer and needed to find a florist, I needed to go searching for one. With no computer, or phone book, what would I do? I’d hit the street and head down to Main street and ask around or just happen to come across one.
While the shoe industry enjoyed a steady stream of business from worn soles, someone had this idea: “If every business has a phone, we can list all those business in categories and put them in a book for every registered phone customer.” “How do we make money?” “We sell ad space in the book.” “Awesome!”
Accelerate the DeLorean to 88mph and go back to the future and you find the following conversation: “If every business has a website, we can list those businesses by analyzing their content to categorize what they are about.” “How do we make money?” “We’ll figure that out later, let’s not be evil.” “Awesome!” Unfortunately that conversation didn’t take place at a phone book provider.
So, I told our rep “We’re thinking of decreasing our presence in the printed book.” I felt going for the throat of my goal was a bit much so I softened. Reaction was swift and calm. “Oh, you don’t want to be out of the book.” Nice. It was batted away with jovial coyness. I did say “We want to look at how to increase our presence on your site.” I figured it would be worth while to see the opportunity. Before going in, I had to look at my analytics in a realistic light.
Look at these traffic source numbers for a small site I represent:
Google, Yahoo and Bing results are shaping up in line with state market ratios. The direct results I attribute to our strong local marketing in radio, print and tv. I had to click further to see where the yellow pages came in.
Ignore the numbers and look at it from a percentage. Do I want to fight for this piddly percentage? How much am I paying for this percentage? How much do they want to maintain this percentage? If I bought their Platinum/Optimum/Top online package with banner ads, would it get me the leads that SEO has given me? This small site ranks horrible on Yahoo and it still got more conversions.
Now the situation is looking like I could possibly just drop everything and pour the monthly money into pay-per-click. Based on that enlightenment, I propose the phone book challenge!
- Choose a phone book you advertise in.
- Put a different trackable number in the ad.
- Track it for one year and tally the results.
- Drop the ad the following year and put the money in pay-per-click for the next year.
- Tally the results and compare where your money was well spent.
Oh and while you are in step 2, you claimed your local listing in Google and changed your Home page title from “Home” or “Welcome” to “Purpose of my business, City State, Business name” This is an SEO blog after all. Remember, you can always go back into the yellow pages once you left. I’d be interested in how many would.