If you're a business owner in the Inland Empire, you may be considering advertising in the yellow pages. I first wrote about phone book marketing about 2 years ago on my Inland Empire Attorney blog and I'll again disclose that I worked for a large YP publisher for about 4 years. My intention here is not to endorse or denounce the efficacy of advertising in the yellow pages, but to educate and shed some light on the industry.
Yellow page advertising in the past has been most effective if you're in a service or emergency based type of industry: plumber, electrician, veterinarian, dentist Etc. The Pew Research Center reported in June of 2013 that 56% of Americans own smartphones and adoption has been growing 10%+ every year since 2011. Given this data, it's hard to believe that people would still pick up, (or even own), a phone book. However, I strongly believe that there are still people who use them (see below). If it's enough to justify the investment of a 1 year run in the local phone book will have to be determined by you.
Types of Yellow Pages - Telco vs. Non-Telco:
In the yellow page industry there are either telephone company directories (Telco), or independent publishers (Non-Telco - Yellowbook/Clarke). In the past, generally the telephone company phone book was regarded as the most comprehensive & correct, and thus the most used. That was because when a business opened or changed a phone number the telephone company was the first to get notice, and the first to update records and listings. Telco directory distribution was also generally regarded as the most complete because they were aware of new residents and addresses as phone lines were activated. As of this writing Verizon, (SuperMedia/Dex) is the Telco directory for most of San Bernardino County, Coachella Valley, and Temecula Valley. AT&T is the Telco directory for the cities of Riverside & Corona (& some surrounding cities). Advertising rates in Telco directories are usually more expensive because of the perceived advantage. However, competing independent publishers may distribute to a wider zone, and even though their usage may be less the ad rates may be dramatically less too. Business owners are usually very vocal about which ones work, and which one don't! There's no right or wrong here, it's all about ROI.
Designing Your Ad:
The worst thing advertisers constantly asked me to do was to look at their competitors and mimic their message & design. I've always been very vocal about not copying the competition. After all, why would a business spend all that money to look like every other competitor? If you are using the publisher's graphic design team make sure to have them emphasize your qualities, differences and competitive edge... NOT what makes your business the same as every one else. This forces your potential leads to differentiate you based on your price, rather than your value.
Who Still Uses the Yellow Pages?
It's human nature to assume that everyone behaves as we, ourselves, do. Since our attitudes and behavior is influenced by our colleagues and peers, take a moment to look at this from a "blank slate" approach. The Local Search Association, (formerly Yellow Pages Association), reported in 2010 that, obviously, progressively older demographics generally used "Search Engines" less to find a local business and relied on phone books more; progressively younger demographics relied on "Search Engines" more than phone books.
Experienced SEO professional and business consultant.