Repeat After Me-Print Still Works!

Posted 03/30/2010 - 10:37 by Editor

Article from YP Talk by KenC Consulting LLC

03/25/2010 - Several events over the last week or so have strongly reinforced something we already knew - yes, print Yellow Pages still works.

Now that view still rankles some people. For example here is a cut from a recent press release from another one of those search marketing firms trying to promote how great they are even though no one has ever heard of them:

The Yellow Pages are quickly becoming an artifact of the past like the cassette tape and VHS recorder. More and more people are using online search engines, cell phones and GPS devices to find local businesses.

I only wish I had a nickel for every prediction I've seen like this – I would be writing this from a small island in the Caribbean that I own. But don't believe me that print still works. Just listen to the comments I get from those of you in the trenches each day, working with small businesses to build them an advertising program that not only sustains their business in this tough economy, but also grows it.

Here is just one example of comments that have appeared recently on a LinkedIn blog. The comments were about the recent View From The Corner Office interview with Ken Brock of Names & Numbers that appeared in YP Talk (link to article). In the interview Mr. Brock was very firm in his belief that print still has a huge amount of runway left, and that it continues to provide unparalleled value to advertisers despite all of the media hoopla about digital and online products. The comments then come from a Dex rep. which follows:

Ken, I love your comments and your perspective you are a true warrior! I work for Dex and have done for over 13 years. I have worked with the same clients over that time frame and have done numerous in house and private call tracking results monitoring looking at how print responds against internet in generating actual calls, not just clicks. Here is what the facts tell me:

  • #1 Bankruptcy Attorney using the print book compared to an ad words campaign and Google SEO found the average month of over 200 calls generated from the book compared to 7 generated online.
  • Auto repair facility average over 170 calls per month from the print book as compared to 30 generated using my online products.

The case here is that the print product still provides a powerful return, if you are smart you are not looking at a failure from one to justify the other. The problem is that there are all those people out there that want print to fail.

Let's be honest most of these guys can't get over the fact how much penetration into the small business arena these products have. I would be jealous too looking at that all day long. It is a long way from doing so and will continue to be a major provider for the smart small business in qualified local leads, might I add my customers see 86% taking action as compared to very low from on-line mostly under 4%, with the exception of IYP's. I can sight dozens in my market place that show the same result.

It comes down to

#1 Great content and design.
#2 the right program to meet the need of the advertiser
#3 The correct media mix (print and internet) to get the job done.

I have to note in one example I personally tracked the calls in the book in 2002 and today the calls are exceeding the 2002 results by well over 30% each month. Funny how can the book not be working when you have something like this. Ad sizes etc are exactly the same? What worked 10 years ago still works today.

I commented back to him that these are typical real world stats which back up the assertion that print Yellow Pages is still a very viable advertising medium for most businesses. Sure, the Internet and mobile are current, sexy, perhaps even more exciting. But print is the workhorse that will get the real marketing done.

Here was his follow-up:

I have worked a largest assignment for Dex in Utah over the last couple years. I honestly have dozens and dozens of examples of just what I told you above. Customer after customer that has told me about the failures of the internet.

I had a customer just yesterday, glass guy that is using yellow page print, Direct Mail and a little internet through me, is running a business with NOI of over 20,000 per month and he is only 27 years old! How about that -- two of the oldest mediums out there YP and DM and in just over two years this guy has built this kind of money machine. Well needless to say he is looking at a much larger print program with me this year, and look out NOI of $50,000 per month, here we come!

You know I have to defend the internet with this, it wasn't the internet that failed them. It was the car salesman that sold the internet products that failed. I actually have customers telling me that they are being solicited by people to sell them in Google Local (the map area)? Something that I can do for them or you could do for them or they could do themselves for free? Simply update and put some content in the profile? What a shame!

You see for all your readers, it never was about the product yellow pages or internet, it is about getting your customer to the goal and what best gets them there. One does not work on the failure of the other. Mark my words, I bet my salary on this, over the next few years you will see a major change in SEO, paid for click etc. Here is an example -- I was looking on Google with a customer and he noted a couple years ago a click was about $.23. That same click is going for over $3.00 now. Supply and demand right? Well guess what he isn't interested in it anymore. The cost per call is so high that it just isn't feasible. Not enough calls to make sense. Guess who wants in ad back in the yellow pages?