I had the opportunity to speak with an account rep at an Internet company recently. As we talked about different types of advertising, it became obvious that he distained old media. He said that television advertising was pointless because people TiVo past them, and that he “couldn’t begin to remember” the last time he’d looked in the Yellow Pages. Instead, he uses a smartphone, buying a new one every 3 to 6 months, because he gets bored with the old one.
Michael Hyatt, Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, says that when we think there’s a singular solution to our woes, we’re guilty of “silver bullet thinking.” It’s precisely this type of thinking that’s led to the debate over whether inbound or outbound marketing is “best.” Proponents of inbound marketing claim that, in new era of social media, outbound marketing is no longer effective. Yet, many companies continue to use outbound marketing with great success. Let’s take a look at each.
In my latest article on SitePoint, Transactional vs. Consultative Selling: Knowing the Difference Makes All the Difference, I compared the transactional sale with a consultative one. In Harvard Business School professor Ranjay Gulati’s new book, he explores the fallacy that media companies are “consultative and customer focused.” According to the article, salespeople are saying “I’ll talk about your needs so long as it leads to you only buying my portfolio of solutions …” but that they are “communicating with customers through a product lens (with a pre-determined end in mind).” That’s a problem.
It’s popular to bash Yellow Pages these days. After all, everyone uses the Internet now, right? Yet, a 2010 study conducted by CRM Associates, shows that both usage and calls volumes are increasing to the 2008 level, suggesting that the decline in Yellow Page usage over the past six years was more economy than Internet-driven.
Another study shows that the average consumer uses both Yellow Pages and the Internet when making a purchase decision. A year-long study of 8,000 adults conducted by marketing research firm Burke, Inc. found that 74 percent used print Yellow Pages over the course of the year to find a local business—just slightly behind the 76 percent who used a search engine. So it’s no longer a question of Internet or print. Smart marketers know there is no single advertising method that will bring in all the business. Effective marketing is more like a team than a shotgun.
Curious how Yellow Page consumers convert into leads and sales? Here’s an infographic to show you:
I always find it interesting (and refreshing) when a search marketing company has something positive to say about the Yellow Pages. As someone who ran a web development business for over 5 years, I can certainly understand their bias. But it seems that the folks over at Search Engine People have decided to go with the facts rather than anecdotal evidence regarding the effectiveness of Yellow Page advertising.
Anyone who’s read a business book or gone to college should know ROI is a number derived from a simple mathematical formula.
I’ve been told by older reps how sweet it was to sell Yellow Page advertising “back in the day” (that being when phone companies had a monopoly on Yellow Pages). They tell me the typical sales pitch went something like this:
I’m here to sell you Yellow Page advertising. Oh, you’re not interested? Well, you will be. Here’s my card; call me when you change your mind. Oh… and the book’s closing in 2 weeks.
That’s how first half of their day was spent. The second half usually involved golf…
As the image above illustrates, consumer behavior towards any particular medium is what makes it a valuable advertising channel. For newspaper and magazines, it’s the number of people who have subscribed to the publication. For outdoor advertising, it’s the number of cars driving past a particular location each day. For television and radio, it’s their ratings. For a website, it’s the number of visits, or unique visits, each month.
Yellow Pages are no different. Yellow Page publishers create directories with useful content in order to get consumers to use it. The more people who use the directory, the better it is for its advertisers. Why advertise in a book that only 5 percent of shoppers use, verses one that 30, 50, or even 75 percent use?
Yet, there is one critical difference that distinguishes Yellow Pages from nearly all other forms of advertising.
It’s become an online hobby for many marketing “gurus” to diparage Yellow Pages as “antiquated” and “obsolete.” They say things like, “Who uses the Yellow Pages anymore, anyway?” or they criticize the research studies yet never provide any data of their own to prove their point.
In reality, all studies are done by independent media firms (much like the Nielsen ratings do with television). So in the interest of the truth, I present to you a joint study, conducted by two such firms, Burke and comScore, which found the following about Yellow Page usage:
I’m conducting sales training all week, and one of my students showed me this video:
The Jerk came out in 1979. Since then, however, people have become skeptical about how effective Yellow Page advertising really is:
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Thanks for visiting. I’m a Marketing Evangelist, Blogger and Sales Trainer.
I get excited about geek stuff. But I’m also passionate about helping people and companies reach their fullest potential and becoming wildly successful.
That’s why I love helping businesses figure out how to market (especially web marketing) and why I train sales people to be the best they can be at what they do.