Smarter Yellow Page Advertising – Part 3 – Picking an Ad Size

Say you are the typical small business that advertises in your local Yellow Pages. You have chosen to be listed on the smaller Eastside directory and under “Catering.” There are 20 other caters and now it’s up to you to determine what size will be most effective. Your rep is encouraging you to place the largest ad because either (a) he thinks it’s best for your business, (b) he says it will dominate the page, (c) he says it will make you the most money, or (d) he gets paid by commission.

Now first, let me explain that I was a YP rep for 25 years and my answer would be all of the above. But for many, it was only (d). In other words, can you really trust the rep to suggest an ad size or color when he gets paid more for the larger ads? I doubt if he or she will ever recommend the smallest ad without color. So, what should you do?

It begins with the heading and the competition. If you are a plumber confronted with 10 full pages and you can only afford an eighth of a page, maybe you should rethink the Yellow Pages at all. You see, plumbing is normally an emergency heading where a leak or broken pipe needs immediate attention. So Mrs. Smith starts at the beginning of the heading and works her way back. But not too far back. After flipping five pages, her little fingers are getting sore and she stops. She most probably would never get to your teeny-tiny ad in the back. Unless it offers “Free Service Calls, Free Parts, Free Dinner for 10 with every Repair and a Free Trip to Hawaii.” Get my point? Assuming you’re not in a giving mood, consider your options.

To be competitive with 10 full pages, nothing less than a half-page will work. And marginally well at that. But even that’s still too expensive, you whine. I hate whiners but I’ll let this one go. Either look for a cheaper Yellow Page book from a competitor or try the Internet. Look into Google ads. Or, try the larger ad YP by cutting back on your non-profitable overhead. Advertising is the life-blood of a business and you have to keep the trucks rolling. Unless you have a rare business that can totally survive on word-of-mouth, YP advertising is still the most effective for any emergency-type business. Although the Internet is becoming more powerful each day, it’s also more fiercely competitive for that very reason.

I’m often asked if a smaller ad in full-color is better than a larger in black and yellow. The answer is that it depends. What are you selling? The florist, decorator, or swimming pool sales company can offer some pretty color pictures. But, why would I choose a plumber with a nice full-color flooded house? Or a color picture of an attorney? Does the color enhance the message? Sometimes it does. But I opt for size and position in most cases. “Position” meaning that the larger ads are placed first and before the smaller ones. So they are seen first as well. Finally, larger ads have more space to tell your story and include answers to all the “who, what, where, when and why” questions.

For even more interesting ways to save and create effective ads, consider my book called, “Inside the Yellow Pages,” on amazon or my site, and discover a peek into the directory business as well. In the meantime, I’ll offer the best of luck in your YP advertising.