How to Promote Your Business in the Yellow Pages
By Fran Finley








How do you promote your business
in the Yellow Pages?  I asked Yellow
Pages expert Barry Maher, author,
speaker, and consultant who has
appeared on the Today Show, NBC
Nightly News, CNBC and has been
quoted in the pages of USA Today,
the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Maher is also the author of the book,
Getting the Most from Your Yellow Pages Advertising, and conducts Yellow Pages
workshops at conventions across the country.

Does Yellow Pages advertising really work?

Well, it certainly can work. But it's far more likely to work if you pay attention to a
few key rules.

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 a
directory for the first time. If he or she can't prove value, 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?

That's got to be the attorney who found herself listed not under "Attorneys" but under
"Reptiles."  (I'll leave it to you to decide if that was perhaps more
truth in advertising than she bargained for!) Which reminds me: Always insist on
getting a proof for your display ad.

This article is adapted with permission from Fran Finley's forthcoming book, Ask the Experts:
How to Promote Your Business. Expert Barry Maher can be reached at 760-962-9872 or at his
website:
Barry Maher. The completely-updated third edition of his book, Getting the Most from
Your Yellow Pages Advertising is available on amazon.com and by special order through all
bookstores.
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