yellow pages

This week’s questions are directed at Barry Maher, author of the latest edition of the book that’s considered the bible on the subject, “Getting the Most from Your Yellow Pages Advertising.” To quote TIME, “Barry Maher has helped thousands of small businesses get the most cost effective Yellow Pages advertising possible.”

Does Yellow Pages advertising still work?

Well, it certainly can work. But it’s far more likely to work if you do it correctly. Far too few businesses do.

yellow pages
Yellow Pages

Can’t you rely on your Yellow Pages sales rep for any help you need?

Sometimes the rep can be part of the problem. Too many Yellow Page ads are whipped up in the few minutes the rep has left after trying to sell you a bigger ad. Ask–no, insist–that your directory publishers develop an ad for you that justifies the cost. If they can’t, have the ad produced yourself.

Okay, so you need a great looking ad. What about the content?

Content is another key. The first piece of ad copy that readers see–the headline–has to be powerful enough to drag them away from all those competing ads. Never use your company name as your headline unless it really is that powerful–unless it really is the most important selling copy in the ad.

What other copy should you include?

You have to include all the hard, factual information potential customers need to make a decision to call or drop by: be it about image, market niche, products and services, features, brand names, expertise, pricing, quality, hours, reliability, speed, location, service area, credit available–whatever it might be.

So you should use every bit of ad space you’re paying for?

Absolutely not. Your ad is competing for readability with every other ad under your heading or headings. If it’s difficult to read, it isn’t going to be read. You’ve got to refine your copy until you can provide all the information potential clients want in an ad that’s so uncluttered and inviting that reading it becomes automatic.

What about visuals–like drawings and photos?

Nothing can turn a mediocre Yellow Pages ad into a great one faster than the right illustration. If your picture isn’t worth a thousand words, find one that is.

How about ad size–is bigger better?

Unfortunately, all things being equal, bigger ads get a greater response. They also get the best placement–closest to the front of the heading. Placement can be even more important than size.

A visually appealing ad can make up for some size, especially under a heading where all the ads are on the same page or two. It’s much more difficult to compete with ads on an earlier page. That page may never be turned.

Always consider placement when you’re deciding on ad size. Have your sales rep show you where the size you’re considering would fall in this year’s directory. That should give you an idea of the position–relative to the competition–you’d have next year. Sometimes going up a size and spending just a few more dollars will move you much closer to the front of the heading. Sometimes you can cut back in size without losing much in the way of position.

What about using color?

Color is eye catching. And expensive. If the money you’d be spending is approximately the same, you’re better off significantly improving the size and placement of your ad than the color.

Some areas are covered by several competing directories. Should you buy ads in all of them?

Make the sales rep prove value before you buy–especially when you’re considering an independent [non phone company] directory. If he or she can’t, don’t put any real money there. Instead, try something small: perhaps even a simple in-column ad, or even just a listing. Track your response–survey your customers to discover how they discovered you. Then next year you’ll have know.

What’s the biggest Yellow Pages mistake you’ve ever encountered?

Probably the lawyer, whose listing ended up not under ATTORNEYS but under REPTILES. Feel free to insert your own joke here.

Always insist on getting a proof for your display ad.

Steve Wilson (

Barry Maher, Barry Maher & Associates

P.O. Box 1104  – Helendale, CA   92342

Phone : 760-962-9872

Barry Maher & Associates: Trainers and Speakers on Small Business Managent, Sales, Success, Motivation

By daryl

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