Say No to Overpriced, Ineffective Advertising!

This Buzz tip may ring a bell – it’s a topic we’ve covered before, but certainly bears repeating. The service industry is a heavy player in phone book advertising. How can you make the most of your advertising dollars in a highly competitive market? Well, let’s take some things into consideration before we tackle that question.

First, phone book usage (particularly in the yellow section) is on the decline. If their own launch and heavy promotion of a dot com doesn’t indicate their print division is hurting, here are a few facts from a recent report in PHC magazine that look to further backup the fall of phone books:

Overall advertising page count is dropping 8% a year
Phone book usage has dropped 25% since 1999
Usage continues to fall around 5% a year

So what options are available to help you maximize the impact of your yellow book business listing? There are numerous avenues to take to achieve advertising bliss, let’s take a look:

Run a smaller size ad – It’s not always the full page or double truck ad that gets the most attention.
Test this for yourself, open your phone book to the yellow pages and look up auto dealers. Did the biggest ad catch your attention or was it one that was designed better, had more effective use of color or a catchy call to action? Take the time and effort to have your ads designed better with a clearly defined call to action and you can have more impact in less space.

Don’t pay extra for front placement – When you looked up that auto dealer, was it the first ad in the section or did you find your choice in the middle? Phone book salespeople will typically try to upsell you on that front placement, promising better results, but the fact is few people start at the front of the section!

Have your ads professionally designed – Phone book salespeople are not designers, and generally their “design team” back at the office is already behind the eight ball on production of the book, limiting the amount of time they can spend on your ad. If you decide to do a display ad in your local phone book, hire a design professional or agency to draft your ad for you. It may cost a little extra up front, but the results from having a jam-up ad will payoff in the long run through increased calls due to a more professional appearance, clearer calls to action and being able to reuse your ads across multiple medias.

Don’t buy a special phone number just for your Yellow Page ad – This is simply an add-on service with no real return. Don’t buy into the “metering” game for your ad. Now… that said, it’s important as marketers we find a way to track everything. Having a phone number dedicated to your print ads is a great idea IF you’re actually going to take the time track the number of calls to see what’s being effective. If this is a metric you’re interested in monitoring contact your phone service provider about setting up a separate number. Their rates are likely to be much cheaper.

Use a Border – It may sound trivial, but make sure your ad is designed with a border around it to help it stand out from the other ads around it. Ads without borders typically have a “floaty” and “unfinished” look.

Make your Phone Number the Primary Focus – Remember, the primary purpose of any directory ad is to have prospective clients call you, make sure your phone number is the main attention grabber in the ad. Use one phone number and make it large!

With these few tips, you can easily maximize the impact of your ad space and even save hundreds or more a month in advertising dollars which can then be utilized elsewhere – like newspaper ads, new vehicle graphics, printed marketing collateral, call back tools or even a website!

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