Smarter Yellow Page Advertising – Part 1 – Targeting Your Market

The small business is the backbone of the Yellow Pages. So, whether you are the local insurance agent, plumber, auto repairer, dentist, or attorney, you are most probably a YP advertiser and have another thing in common. You hate paying that monthly bill. I should know. I was a YP sales rep for 25 years and I can honestly say I never heard a customer thank me for our high rates. Instead, every year, the first question out of their mouths was, how much did it go up now? Gee, not even a, “Nice to see you again, Jeff? How’s the family?” No, they got right to the bottom line.

How could I blame them? In some cases they were spending $1000’s a month and had no idea whether it was even worth it. So it was up to me to calm them down and re-explain the value of the directory and their investment. We never called it an expense. It was always an investment in the business’s future. So I showed them a variety of success stories and how much money XYZ Plumbing was making that year. Though I somehow doubted how that was supposed to help them pay their bill. But I did ultimately have a point. The YP worked well for many small businesses if they made the correct decisions.

Some of those were in regard to being in the right book. Often times, they would give me a strange look. I could I be in the wrong place? Well, look at your marketplace. Where do most of your customers come from? If you were in the Metro-Wide book and reaching all one million customers, wouldn’t that make sense? No, not if you only serviced the Eastside and charged a small fortune to go to the North or Westside. Suppose you could save 75% by only being in that smaller Eastside directory? How would you feel now? But the rep told you to be in both because we don’t know which book they are using. Fine, put a small ad in each with a special tracking phone number in each and spend the next year monitoring your calls. Then simply adjust your ad budget the following year to match the results. So, the Metro got you 100 calls and the Eastside, 400. Place 25% of your money into the Metro book and 75% in the Eastside. The bonus is that the Eastside book is much less expensive and you end up with a larger ad, which kelps pull in your local market better.

Many times it’s cheaper to be in several small books than one large one. Although your rep will give you usage numbers that say you need to be in the larger book, doing your own tracking research is the only sure way to discover the truth. Reps make money off commission so they can’t be completely objective. Then, once you are happy with your choice of books, we can move on to the next subject, the heading or category. In the meantime, check out my book on other great cost-saving tips from “Inside the Yellow Pages,” available on amazon or off my website at and good luck and good selling.