I think I almost may a yellow page sales rep cry today.
After several reschedulings and delays, I met with our yellowbook rep armed with a budget that wasn’t allowed to increase, yet had to increase our investment in the working parts of the product. The outcome I’ll describe in a bit. People ask me “Which yellow page books should I advertise in?” and the answer is not easy. Well, I can tell you, but you have to consider several factors. These factors coincide with SEO strategies, strangely enough.
Circulation – Does the amount of phone books delivered make a difference? Nope. Piles of phonebooks doesn’t guarantee usage. Just as the existence of a search engines doesn’t guarantee web visitors, there has to be something more.
Categories – One phone book separated “Heating Contractor” and “heating systems.” While this would work for SEO and PPC, it’s pricey for printed phone books
Internet Products – Ah! Getting listed on top of their online version of their phone book! That is worth something, right? Nope. Again, just because it exists doesn’t mean people will find it.
So what are we left with?
Well, just like any company, your advertising has to have the help with other mediums. Local companies need to rely on mediums like radio, tv, community websites and to an extent, newspapers. Yellow Page companies are regional and/or national yet they rely on local companies going after local people so Yellow Page companies need to advertise themselves to local end user.
So now I will blow the cap off of what I have found the last year about the yellow page industry. Your experience will vary, but the four books in my neck of the woods are: Yellowbook, AT&T, Verizon and Windstream (our current landline provider in the area.) Here are some fast facts:
1. The books are getting smaller
Yellowbook decreased the dimensions of their book. AT&T seems thinner. Less advertising means, everyone isn’t as hefty as they use to be.
2. The reps talk less about the books and more on their other products.
Windstream and AT&T spent more time on their Internet product than the book itself. It makes you wonder if we notice…
3. All have figures that show how they are leading in the are and have reasons why the others are worse.
Again, remember that circulation doesn’t mean higher usage. It just means more books hanging around.
4. The value of the yellow pages needs to be communicated to the people, not the companies advertising.
Verizon came out with a “preferred vendor” type of logo identification to communicate “hey these guys are the real deal.” Actually, it just means they paid more to have the logo. Not very impressive. However, the winner in this instance is Yellowbook. Yellowbook has been pouring money into TV campaigns promoting their Yellowbook.com over the past few weeks, specifically during the Football playoffs. Luckily, I saw all this before meeting again with our rep.
Armed with the knowledge of their internet product being promoted and also being directed to not increase the budget from last year, my goal was to increase the internet pressence on yellowbook.com and sacrifice the printed pages to the bare minimum if possible.
“Wait. What’s this have to do with Local SEO?”
For one thing, if you are tracking your website visitors, you should see where your traffic is coming from. In this case, there was more traffic coming from yellowbook.com than other yellow page providers. Also, paying attention to who is marketing heavily is important.
“You didn’t answer my question!”
OK, fine. Online yellow page directories show some clout in local seo searches. Even though the book might be dead, renegotiate the size and go to black and white ads to move more of your budget to their online portions.
Yes. Because then, next year you can actually measure the traffic and consider if it’s an investment worth pursuing at all in your area.