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I hear it often, "advertising in the Yellow Pages directory doesn't work!" I smile knowingly and wait for a pause in the conversation, and this is what I say in response to their claims?
"It's not the medium - it's the message?and it's probable the market too!" Blank stares often accompany that opening statement. But they do work - and they work well? IF you know how to use them.
Think of This?
The Yellow Pages (YP) reaches approx 80% of North American adults in the average month, 60% in the average week, and 15% daily. And nearly 90% of these references result in contact with a purchase or an intent to purchase.
The YP is a reference medium - people are looking for 'something', usually a solution to an immediate problem. And one out of every two people looking in the YP directory have no provider in mind and are silently begging for a solution to their problem.
Ok, here's a quick summary - just in case you missed all that. The YP reaches almost everyone eventually, those who are actively looking in the YP directory have a problem and need a solution. And those looking likely have no supplier in mind? Is it just me or doesn't this sound like a gold mine waiting to be tapped? Given these useful tidbits, doesn't it make sense to figure out how to make your adverts more effective?
First of All...
Don't listen to the space sales rep - yup, I know. You're thinking these guys know their stuff. Well they sure how to sell space, but designing a profitable advert? Uh, no. In fact their design teams (did I mention they offer their services for FREE as part of the ad space you buy?) generally create adverts that look like everyone else's. Remember, you get what you pay for.
And you wonder why your previous attempts failed?
Here's The Secret...
If I told you how to place a winning advert in the YP every time, would you want to know? Of course you would. Here's the secret: simply design an assortment of YP ads and run them in your local weekly newspaper. Track the results and see which one works best - that's the one you use in the upcoming YP directory. Easy when you know how.
What Format to Use?
Here's another misconception. You don't actually have to have color, you don't actually have to buy a full page and you certainly don't have to apply the 'rules' that the YP rep might recommend. You do have to be the right size, the right color and in the right place - it's not simply a case of bigger, brighter, and more.
This might help you. Imagine the YP reader for a moment and you'll start to see what your advert should be like. Your potential customer is out there somewhere closely scanning the pages looking for a solution to their problem. What would you want to know if you were in their shoes?
You'd Want Information!
Absolutely, you'd want to know about how they're the right choice for you and that they understand your problem and that they can assure you of the service you require and oh look? there's a website with more information or a toll free recorded message with more information, or a free report with more information?
Are you seeing a pattern yet?
The last thing a reader cares about at this point is YOU. They're only interested in themselves. They have a problem and they want it gone. Make it easy for them to see why you're the best choice and you'll have them beating a steady path to your door.
Always Use A Headline?
Remember, the browser is looking for a solution so have a headline at the top of your advert that addressees their main concern. Here's a suggestion for a headline that will catch the eye of a YP seeker - "7 Ways To Choose The Right Repair Shop" or "5 Questions You Must Ask When Picking The Perfect Mechanic" Isn't that what they're trying to do? Won't your headline stop them dead in their tracks - of course it will.
In closing, there's a lot more to YP advertising than I can cover in a page, and display advertising (of which YP is one part) is a fascinating subject all on it's own.
AUTHOR BIO: James Burchill is a freelance marketing consultant and publisher. James helps people 'Sell more stuff, and make more money!' He also publishes informational and Internet products and his main website is http://www.JamesBurchill.com James' newest product shares his insights into the exciting world of freelancing on Elance at http://www.ElanceExposed.com
Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard
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