Many of my clients try yellow page advertising with the idea that it will bring them a lot of money. They really don’t know how much or how to gage the results. They were told when they started their business that they need to advertise. That’s the extent of their expertise.
Many business owners have an unrealistic idea of the power of advertising. They think that shelling out a few hundred dollars a month will bring them thousands and thousands of dollars in return. The ones who treat advertising like a genie in a lamp usually get burned and bitter. There are others who treat advertising like farmers who grow wheat. They carefully tend to be conservative and careful in their choice of promotional efforts and pay close attention to the results. They are the ones who will see lasting results.
So what is it that the knuckleheads do that I consider so heinous? Here are the 5 biggest mistakes:
1.They create mixed messages on the same ad. They want to write the Magna Carta on a six inch ad. They will stuff the kitchen sink into that ad because they are too cheap to scale properly.
2.They want to appeal to everyone and their mother. They are all over the map when deciding who they are appealing to. If you are in a hurry to get a plumber to fix your pipes, you want a plumber who is fast and reliable; and you want them at a price you can afford that day.
3.They will advertise in the book for the year and switch to another form of advertising without rhyme or reason. All the folks who got used to seeing the ad but weren’t ready to use the service now will focus on someone else next year and forget about them.
4.In hopes of saving some money and playing it safe, they advertise in the same size, shape and style as every other competing ad on that page. The classic is the eight of a page ad. Yellow Page sales people love those guys because they can just call them up when it’s time to renew and get the signature later. The business person has no idea if the ad is working just that it’s a pretty reasonable cost and everybody else is doing the same thing; so it must be a good one.
5.The vanity ad that really says nothing to the folks who need what the company is selling. They see a beautiful glossy ad in a magazine and have a double truck and a couple of half pages done in various headings. The next year they have to justify the expense of all that beautiful art and realize that it didn’t pull in enough business to buy a cup of coffee. These folks mistook a branding / marketing piece for a direct advertising piece. They are two different animals.
The reason most businesses fail to get great results from their Yellow Page ads is simply because they wait for a sales person to show up to decide what they want to accomplish. The right way to do it of course is to create your marketing plan at the beginning of the year and settle on your message. Once you do figure out your market and the message you want to promote, you are one step ahead of your competition.
The next step is to figure out your branding. Remember that branding is not the goal of Yellow Pages, leave that to the glossy magazines. The brand is just to secure your unique image then incorporate that brand into your ad. You can with a solid Return on investment Sheet be confident in your ability to easily triple your investment from Yellow Page advertising. Just avoid the common misconceptions and stick with a solid and conservative approach.