If you were born before the 1990s you may remember a huge book with yellow pages and a list of thousands of businesses categorized by industry or service provided, kind of like “Google made out of trees” —paraphrasing Brian Griffin from Family Guy—.
You may probably have one of these directories holding the lose leg of your sofa or maybe your parents put it on your chair so you could reach the table when you were a kid.
Yellow pages created its own market: all businesses having a telephone land line were included in the list, even for free sometimes. A basic or free inclusion would typically look like this:
As you can see, the basic inclusion is not appealing at all; What if you wanted an ad, a different font style, colors or even images so your potential customers will be lured to use your services?
That was the catch of Yellow Pages, every single customization —starting with the size of your ad— had a price; space was sold at gold prices while color, images and anything else was sold like diamonds. A single ad could cost you several hundred or even thousands of dollars. And you had no say, YOU had to adapt to whatever Yellow Pages offered you.
Needless to say, all of this was possible because the internet was not yet widely adopted and clients had no other way to find you.
The use of the internet keeps on making the printed version of Yellow Pages obsolete; an article in 2007 predicted that Yellow pages will be toast in four years.
Now in 2011 it seems the forecast is becoming true: Yellow Pages Canada announced a reduction in its dividends (meaning earnings payable to the shareholders) in order to face a $14.3 million loss during this year’s first quarter. Moreover, the company announced a reduction in revenues for almost $17.5 million dollars.
And if that does not seem like something to worry about, maybe its $2.4 billion dollars debt may help you to get the big picture. They are slowly dying.
You, as a business owner, should reconsider to keep on paying to be listed in a publication in frank decline; not because a phone book reaches 99% of the households in Canada, it means people use it; in fact, every year I see piles of phone books going to the garbage because people simply will not even consider to have them at home.
Maybe if your target customers are over 50, 60 or 70 years old who only own land lines, Yellow Pages will be THE option for you.
Otherwise, the best way to get noticed, attract customers and build your brand name is definitively via your own website.
They say that everything going towards marketing and publicity is not a cost but an investment. Nowadays, the truth is that Yellow Pages represents a cost and your own website a real investment that you can manage and adapt to your current needs.
When you put your money into Yellow pages: does it go to help your business or to extend the agony of a concept that has no future in a digital world?