Do People Still Let Their Fingers Do the Walking in the Yellow Pages?

A client who owns a restaurant asked me recently if they should continue to spend $ 400.00 per month on a Yellow Page ad or redirect this budget to other marketing strategies. (Easy question) He also asked if I knew if people still use the Yellow Pages? (Hard question)

My answer was yes to redirecting the money to other forms of marketing, but I was not sure about whether the Yellow Pages were still relevant.  The next day the results of new research were released which you might find interesting.

According to research conducted by Knowledge Networks on behalf of the Association of Directory Publishers (ADP). 85 percent of the U.S. population used a printed directory last year. Independent publishers (those not affiliated with local telephone companies) enjoyed a strong share of this consumer usage, with 40 percent of overall Yellow Pages look-ups going to independent directories.

According to the study, print Yellow Pages provides advertisers with consumers who take action after referencing a directory, with 78 percent of directory users contacting an average of two businesses. Telephone contact is the most common action taken (93 percent), followed by in-person contact (31 percent), online contact (10 percent) and mail (1 percent).

So there you go.  85% of the U.S. population were not near their computers at least once last year.

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. KenC says:

    millions of small businesses invest their hard earned advertising dollars in those books. Would they be doing it if it they didn’t bring them more business??? think not.

  2. Mike Blaney says:

    Ken I didn’t mean to slam Yellow Pages as they are a valuable marketing tool for many businesses. There are exceptions and that is how I make a living providing these marketing services. I do take exception to your comment that the proof they work is because everybody is using them. Many businesses feel like they are being held over a barrel and do not have the information they need to make an informed decision. All of my clients ask customers where they heard about the business and not enough are saying “the Yellow Pages”.

  3. Steve Jagger says:

    I have not had a print yellow pages book in my house for years. Google is where I go. My parents are in the same boat. Just my 2 cents.

  4. Chris Charles says:

    Frankly I use Yellow Pages far more often than Google for local searches. Google is great for tons of uses but Yellow Pages is much quicker if you are just trying to find the phone number of a specific local business you already know or a bunch of them in a specific category, ie plumbers.
    On Google you have to check out each website, email for info and wait for the reply. as many don’t have phone numbers etc. Them’s my twopennorth.

  5. Kye Grace says:

    I am not surprised that 85% used them at least once. I would be surprised if it is a lot more than that though. The thing to keep in mind with US data relating to any kind of potential or actual internet usage is that penetration of the internet in the US is 72.5% vs 84.3% along with a significant population difference in Canada so it makes the transfer of data to a decision for a Canadian business a little more difficult.

    This being said I do not use the Yellow Pages nor do we have them in our house.

    Anyways…Ken, a lot of people still smoke, a lot of people still drink and drive, a lot of people have an unhealthy diet…the everyone is doing it theory is supposed to wear off after your teen years. It seriously boggles my mind that you provide that as a rational for a business to spend marketing dollars.

    Chris Charles, I was curious about your thoughts on using Google to find a phone number so I tried a local restaurant, big box store and mom and pop locksmith.

    I used the following terms in Google: sha lin noodles vancouver . This is a one off restaraunt a couple blocks from home.

    First result had this on it with out me even having to click on it. Had a map as well just in case I needed.

    Sha Lin Noodle House

    548 Broadway West
    Vancouver, BC V5Z 1E9
    (604) 873-1816
    Get directions

    13 reviews and more »

    I used the following terms in Google: London Drugs Broadway Vancouver. Clicked on the first item and scrolled down a couple of inches to get this info:

    665 West Broadway
    Tel: (604) 872-1228
    Monday to Friday 9am-10pm
    Saturday 9am-9pm
    Sunday and Holidays 10am-6pm

    I used the following terms in google: vancouver bc locksmith . This list was the first result along with a map indicating where each was so I could easily select the one closest to me. Didn’t have to click on a thing.

    Broadway Locksmith Ltd – (604) 889-2634 – more
    AJ Security Locksmith Ltd
    – – (604) 731-5625 – more
    Downtown Lock’n Key Ltd
    – – (604) 682-8155 – more
    Mainland Mobile Locksmiths – (604) 516-7779 – more
    Citiloc Systems Ltd – (604) 879-0404 – more
    Gunnebo Canada Inc – (604) 708-9994 – more
    Arnie’s Lock & Key
    – – (604) 879-3367 – more
    Mount Pleasant Locksmiths
    – – (604) 876-9012 – more
    West Coast Mobile Locksmiths Ltd
    – – (604) 291-0444 – more
    Al Scott Lock & Safe – (604) 581-5000 –

    Nothing wrong with continuing to use the Yellow Pages, just wanted to bring some FACTS to the conversation.

  6. And our research tells us the US consumers referenced the print Yellow Pages over 13.4 billion times in 2007. It really isn’t an either or proposition. Recent studies indicate that if you combine online Yellow Pages search with the YP print use, it surpasses other search. For an advertiser, it comes down to finding out how to reach your customers and measuring your results, based on actual sales. Small businesses need buyers, not browsers. Full disclosure, I work for the Yellow Pages Association.

  7. John I says:

    I am a small business owner and you would not believe the desperate measures yellow page reps are taking to convince advertisers that their books are still relevant. Similar to the stats they ramble on about above they try to promise that if you “title” is correct the book will generate a ridiculous amount of calls… Something they know the cannot stand by. When I asked them if they didnt generate this activity would the refund my money. Silence. But then the begging to get a meeting commences. The will bring stats and “show” me what I don’t know about my own business. After all these commissioned reps are experts on every business in their book. If they are such experts I wonder why they don’t start up a consulting firm.. Oh yeah business is more than just Yellow Page advertising. So sorry.
    A dying industry in its death throws. Skip paying 300 or 400 a month on a static ad and put your money in to something that will generate a real ROI.

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