Yellow Page Advertising, Part 2: Yellow Page Consumers—Ready to Buy

Aug 23, 2010   //   by John Tabita   //   Advertising, Business  //  No Comments


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.

Television, radio, direct mail, outdoor, newspaper ads, and banner ads all have one thing in common – they interrupt the consumer when they are doing something else:

  • Television/radio interrupts you while you are watching or listening to the program
  • Direct (i.e., junk) mail interrupts you while you are sorting through your mail for bills
  • Outdoor interrupts you while you are driving
  • Newspaper ads interrupt your while you’re reading the latest news.
  • Banner ads interrupt you while you’re surfing the web

Here’s what sets Yellow Pages apart: when someone is looking in the phone book, they aren’t doing anything else. Yellow Pages ads get one hundred percent of the consumer’s attention. That’s because the consumer has become a buyer who’s now looking for a seller, instead of the other way around.

Most other types of advertising have a very low response rate because only a small percentage of people who see or hear your advertisement are ready to buy at that moment. Unlike Yellow Pages, you, the seller, are looking for a buyer. This type of advertising reaches the vast majority of consumers at the wrong time.

90 percent of those that pick up the Yellow Pages are planning to make a purchase. Yellow Pages are unique because its users are buyers who are seeking a seller, instead of the other way around.

Because Yellow Page shoppers are further along in the buying process, Yellow Page ads have a high response rate. More than 80 percent of its users will make contact after referencing the Yellow Pages.¹ Of these:

  • 93 percent will make a phone call
  • 31 percent will show up in person
  • 10 percent will go online
  • 1 percent will get in touch by mail

Yellow Pages shoppers also close higher. Over 40 percent will make a purchase after looking in the Yellow Pages.¹ And over 90 percent of those will buy from same merchant seen in the Yellow Pages.¹

That’s not to say other types of advertising are inferior or ineffective. Every type of advertising has its inherent strengths and weaknesses – and Yellow Pages is no exception. Its primary weaknesses is that it’s a passive medium—it does nothing to spur your customer to action. It only provides the means of finding you once he or she does decide to act.

But… Yellow Pages can make your other advertising even more effective, because it provides a place for consumers to go after they’ve seen or heard your advertisement. So, two weeks later, when they realize they need you, they go to the Yellow Pages to look you up…

…but it they can’t find you, then your advertising has led them straight to your competitors, hasn’t it?

You see, your other advertising is great for targeting consumers and creating need, but how much more targeted can you get than “ready to buy”?


¹ Knowledge Network/Statistical Research Inc (KN/SRI). One of the top 25 media research firms in the U.S., with numerous Fortune 500 clients, including all of the major radio and television networks, Yellow Pages publishers and ad agencies.

John Tabita

Marketing Evangelist and Blogger at SitePoint.com. Digital Strategy Director at HainesLocalSearch.com. Passionate about helping people and businesses reach their fullest potential and become wildly successful.

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