six secrets of successful
yellow pages advertising
comes out of nowhere. The annual call from the Yellow Pages sales rep.
Suddenly, in a panic, you need to decide what to do with probably your
most expensive single ad of the year. How big should it be? Should we
use colour? What heading should we be under? What should it say? Can we
after year the Yellow Pages are full of ineffective ads, costing the
businesses which placed them thousands of dollars in lost profits.
Follow these sure-fire ideas to dramatically increase the results your
right size for your ad depends on two major factors: your budget and
wisdom suggests that the larger your ad the more people will read it.
This is true, but in the real world, irrelevant. What matters more is
everyone elseís ad.
the other advertisers under your heading all have simple listings or
very small ads, the first thing to consider is the possibility that
people just donít look in the Yellow Pages for your kind of business.
In that case, save your money for more appropriate advertising media. On
the other hand, if your category is dominated by companies running full
page ads, you had better consider doing likewise if you want to compete
effectively. The simple truth is that people will most often look only
as far as the largest ad or two in the category. In fact, studies show
that in large categories even a name beginning with a letter early in
the alphabet can be critical.
brings us to the second major consideration: your budget. It doesnít
much matter if half a dozen companies in your category are running full
page ads (at close to $24,000 per year) if your total annual advertising
budget is $10,000. The facts of life dictate that you are not going to
be getting much business from the Yellow Pages. You now have two
choices. Either you can buy the largest ad you can reasonably afford and
fill it with outstanding copy (see below), hoping that your unique
advantages catch a few browsers. Or, if you know that you have other
advertising options which have proven effective in the past, you can
keep a minimal presence in the Yellow Pages while putting most of your
effort (and budget) into other means.
your final decision, use the suggestions which follow to make sure your
investment pays off.
Yellow Pages rep will show you lots of fancy graphs and charts proving
the effectiveness of using colour in your ad. Should you believe her?
and no. Most tests done on the effectiveness of colour are based on
measuring responses to a page with a single colour ad. All the rest are
black. In this situation the results are dramatic. If the Yellow Pages
can guarantee your colour ad will also appear on a page with all
black ads you should definitely use colour.
what if the page your ad was going on had nothing but colour ads? I
donít know about you, but I would want a black ad. I guarantee it
would draw better than the colour ones.
things considered I would recommend investing your money in a larger ad
before buying colour. If you can afford both, by all means do so.
look of your ad should accurately represent the identity you want to
project to your customers while doing its best to stand out from all the
other ads on the page. Here are a few tips.
a strong border. It is one of the best methods of standing out.
not use reverse type (white - in this case yellow - type on a dark
background). It is difficult to read, and does not pull as well as
sure your graphics will reproduce well. Fine lines tend to wash out; use
heavier lines in your line art. Photographs need to be simple, clear,
and have high contrast.
use cartoons unless you are in the funny business. If you want people to
take you seriously, be serious.
make your company name, logo, and phone number the dominant visuals in
your ad. People wonít decide to call you because they like your name.
(More on this in the next section.) But do make these things clear and
fall for the artistic desire for ďwhite spaceĒ which some people
confuse with good advertising. Lots of white space means lots of money
wasted. Of course you donít want to clutter your ad, but do fill it
with relevant information.
of all you want to make sure your ad looks modern, attractive, and
classy. If it does, people will think your business is the same way.
that all the serious prospects for your product or service are gathered
in a room. You and every one of your competitors will have a chance to
say a few words to them. What will you say?
is the situation you are in. The Yellow Pages only attracts serious
buyers. They are looking in your heading because they want your product.
They are ready to buy. They will choose one of the ads in front of them
to call. You need to give them the right information so that they will
choose your company.
are a number of tried and true methods for accomplishing this, gathered
through years of advertising research. Yet most advertisers ignore this
gold mine of information. If you want to succeed, you wonít make that
most important thing you can do is give the reader information. Lots of
it. Enough to decide that youíre the one to call or visit. Tell them
the benefits of dealing with you. Speak to their self-interest. Solve
their problem. Show them your reliability, selection, quality,
commitment to service.
a way to differentiate yourself from your competitors. What is unique
about your business? What do you do better than anyone? Focus on these
things - and make sure you deliver on your promises.
them everything you do. Parts, service, special orders, house calls,
pickup, delivery, free estimates, business hours, instant credit,
guarantees. Everything that makes you great.
must have a strong headline. If you donít, people wont read the rest
of your ad. A headline must draw the reader into your ad, promising a
benefit, a solution to a problem, information they want. If your
headline interests them, they will read the rest of your copy. After
all, these are serious buyers.
of copy, use lots of it. Studies have repeatedly shown that long copy
pulls better than short. If someone is genuinely interested in your
product or service, they will take the time to read about it. Let them
do so and you will get their business.
way: hire a pro
you come away from this article only taking one piece of advice, make it
this one: Never, never, NEVER, let the Yellow Pages people design your
ad. And unless you know you are good at it, donít do it yourself
the Yellow Pages design your ad will insure that it looks just like most
of the other ads. You will be allowing someone who is doing ten or
twenty ads a day, knows nothing about your business, could care less
about it, and probably doesnít know much about advertising, design
your most expensive and perhaps most important ad. This is not a wise
for less than one monthís Yellow Pages ad cost, a good professional can
create an ad that will dramatically increase the responses - and sales -
your ad will generate. He will work with you, finding out about your
business, your clientele, your previous advertising results, what makes
your business unique. He will then design an ad that incorporates that
information with his knowledge and experience of advertising.
is an investment which will pay for itself many times over.
fateful day arrives: the new Yellow Pages directory is delivered. You and
your staff excitedly turn to your ad, making sure that it came out right.
You check out what the competition is doing. And thatís it! The Yellow
Pages finished with for another year.
is only the beginning. This is when you start planning for next year by
carefully tracking the results your ad is producing.
first thing to do is to make sure that anyone in your company who answers
the phone is intimately familiar with your ad. That way they know what
questions to expect from callers and how to answer them. One of the best
ways to accomplish this - and the other points in this section - is to put
a copy of your ad beside the phone, reminding anyone who answers it of the
importance of following up.
also need to ask your callers where they got your number. Only then will
you really know just how well your ad is working. And if your business
attracts walk-in trade, survey those people as well. Maybe they arenít
bothering to call, they just come ready to buy.
you get a chance, ask the people who are responding to your ad what in
particular got them interested. Then you can focus on the most successful
selling points of your business in next yearís ad, making it even more
This article was published in the March 1995 issue of the Ad-Network