WOLFBITES - Issue 23

Why you need to cut your business to business yellow pages directory and online advertising

Bored order taker, presented by Toronto freelance copywriter Wolfgang Franke, who is also president of Words at Work, to highlight advertising alternatives to Yellow pages advertising, including social media advertising and web marketing.
Getting little or no response from your investment in Yellow Pages advertising? You are not alone.

Guess what happened when we advised a new client to slash its B to B Yellow Pages advertising? Sales went up.

Here's why: The company was advertising in multiple Yellow Pages books, most of which targeted markets far from the client's location. These b-to-b media buys had been arranged years ago and were renewed annually even though the b to b placements were generating little or no response. When we suggested cutting all B 2 B placements outside the client's immediate market and a reduction in local markets, the client was initially hesitant and raised the usual objections:

  • It is mandatory to be in the Yellow Pages.
  • If my competitors are in the Yellow Pages, we need to be in the Yellow Pages.
  • If we don't advertise in the Yellow Pages, sales will go down

We hear this all the time, especially from the owners of a new company or a family business. It's understandable because the owners are very busy and are unaware of the alternatives to Yellow Pages advertising. Then we arrive and in short order we debunk the three big myths about Yellow Pages advertising:

It is mandatory to be in the Yellow Pages:
This was true in the pre-internet days when virtually everyone used the Yellow Pages to find stuff. Today, it is so much easier and faster to search online and that is what just about everyone does. The exception would be someone who is over 70 years old, but even this group is shrinking as increasing numbers of seniors make the switch to online search.

If my competitors are in the Yellow Pages, we need to be in the Yellow Pages:
It's ideal to have your competitors in the Yellow Pages because that means there is little or no chance that they will be discovered by prospective customers. It's almost like putting your competitors on an island nobody can find. What could be better?

If we don't advertise in the Yellow Pages, sales will go down:
Yellow pages sales reps are very good at perpetuating this myth. They want you to believe that there is no alternative to the Yellow Pages and that it is dangerous to cut back your Yellow Pages advertising. Relax. If you are like most companies, you aren't getting anything much from your b to b Yellow Pages ads and that means you have nothing to lose by adjusting your advertising strategy by redirecting spending to other marketing initiatives.

Still skeptical? Try to find someone under the age of 30 who has ever used the Yellow Pages. It's almost impossible.

What about Yellowpages.ca? You will get response, but it's very expensive form of online, digital advertising. We know this because we have seen the numbers. For example, when we start working with a new client and learn that they are spending on Yellowpages.ca, we ask to see the monthly reports that outline the number of clicks and, most important, the cost of those clicks. Guess what? The cost of those clicks is five to 10 times more expensive than other pay per click internet advertising options.

One other thing: don't be swayed by the offer to have your ad "designed for free" by Yellow Pages. Why? Your ad will be "designed" by a junior graphic artist who follows a fixed layout format and more often than not simply copies the layout of a competing ad. Don't believe me? Flip through any section of a Yellow Pages book (assuming you can find it) and note how many advertisements look the same. You are much better off investing in a custom advertisement.

Your friendly Yellow Pages sales rep will be calling soon to renew your placements. Don't be swayed. Be strong. And follow this simple four-step success formula:

Step one: Cut any placements in Yellow Pages books outside your immediate market
Step two: Cut in half any Yellow Pages placements in your local market and get out of Yellowpages.ca.
Step three: Track the performance of the remaining Yellow Pages placements and compare the return on investment with other b to b marketing spending.
Step four: Don't renew your Yellow Pages buy until you have completed Step Three.
Or better yet, give us a call (905-940-6610) and get a better idea.

Read Wolfgang's latest marketing blog.

yellow pages business to business advertising tip and new way to advertise, delivered by top Toronto marketing company

Wolfgang Franke is President & Creative Director of Words at Work Advertising & Marketing, a full service communications company established in 1988. Our growing list of valued clients are found throughout our local market, Markham and the Greater Toronto area, across Canada in cities such as London, Ontario, and Edmonton, Alberta, and an expanding list of international locations ranging from The Big Apple in New York to Kanturk, Ireland.

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