Small Business Marketing

Phone Book Advertising Costs

How much does phone book advertising cost? What makes for an effective Yellow Pages ad? We've assembled some excellent tips for those of you who want to advertise in the phone book.

Yellow page advertising is a marketing staple for many small businesses.

But when every dollar counts, you can't afford to throw cash into an ad and hope for the best. You need to know what you're paying for and how it will benefit your company.

Yellow Page Salespeople

The first thing you should know about yellow page advertising is that (like a lot of salespeople) they are paid on commission. As a consequence, their income is based not only on how many ads they sell, but the size of the ads as well. In other words, their primary job is not just to sell you and ad, but to sell you the biggest ad they possibly can - regardless of whether you need it or not.

Phonebook Advertising Pricing

The price structure of phonebook ads is often intentionally complicated by salespeople trying to communicate cost in the lowest dollar figure possible. Since phonebooks are typically printed annually, you are purchasing a 12-month ad. However, the price of your ad will frequently be quoted in dollars per month, dollars per week, or even dollars per day. If you're not prepared for it, that can be deceiving. To determine the true cost of the ad, scale it up to the annual rate and then determine if you want to spend that much of your yearly advertising budget on an ad in the yellow pages.

Yellow Page Ad Design

Most yellow page companies are more than happy to offer assistance in designing your ad - for a price. But the thing you need to keep in mind is that yellow page ads usually aren't complicated to produce. In fact, if your ad is so complicated that it requires hours and hours of professional design work, you've probably blown it because the most effective ads are eye-catching, yet simple and straightforward.

Phone Book Ad Sizes

Assuming that cost is a factor (and when isn't it?), the size of the ad is going to be one of your most important considerations. Start by browsing through the current yellow pages. If all of your competitors' ads are two or three sizes bigger than yours, then you may have a problem. On the other hand, simply purchasing the largest ad in the industry can backfire on you, too, since it may prove to be cost inefficient. Since your goal is to achieve maximum impact at minimal cost, your mission should be a solid, quality ad that is sized similarly to other business' ads in your industry.

Advertising Content

The content of your ad can make the difference between yellow page success and yellow page failure. You can waste big bucks on a large ad by trying to do too much. Remember: At the end of the day, it's a yellow page ad, not a print ad or direct marketing piece. No matter how tempting it may seem, don't scale down a pre-formatted print ad and call it good enough. If you're not sure what to do, you can't go wrong with a simple listing of your company's name, contact information, logo, and maybe one line describing what you do.

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Conversation Board

We greatly appreciate any advice you can provide on this topic. Please contribute your insights on this topic so others can benefit.

  • Web Design Company posted on 11/14/2009
    Web Design Company
    Why would anyone waste the time, money and effort in placing an ad in the old fashion telephone book. Times have changed; people are now disconnecting their land lines in trade for using their cell phone as a main contact number. A business that is not online (does your business have a website.?), is suffering. If I am looking for something, I go straight to Google and get fresh results for the products I am looking for. Not a phone book that is a year old or more. Thousands of businesses everyday are realizing they are losing their cut of 1.7 MILLION potential customers by not having their own website. Don't waste your hard earned cash on the old phonebook.
  • Jill J. Taylor posted on 1/18/2010
    Jill J. Taylor
    Referring to the web designer's comment. As someone who has worked in an advertising agency setting as well as in house marketing, what every advertiser should take into account is your target audience. For instance, I no longer live in a city of 1 million people. The population in our area is under 400,000 and 16% of the area is 65 and older. Also, our service is for an older generation, who still use the phone book. Though a web page is important, which you can easily do yourself (just research sites you like and use Hostmonster), a phone book can be necessary.
  • Haines posted on 6/4/2010
    It's misguided to think that a website can replace a Yellow Page ad. Sure, anyone can go to Goole and get results, but if you website isn't on the first page, then you'll never be found. When people crack open the phone book, you ad is always there, in the same place. It doesn't depend on "keywords" or some obscure algorithm to appear... or not. So, if you want to take the web designer's advice and not "waste your hard earned cash on the old phonebook," then be prepared to shell out some toward Google AdWords and/or search engine optimitation to insure that your website appears at the top of the search results. And BTW, I formerly owned my own web design company and now work in the Yellow Page industry. The point is that you should use the advertising medium(s) best suited to your type of business. There's no "one size fits all."
  • Ken Gaebler posted on 6/5/2010
    Ken Gaebler
    Haines, I completely agree with you. To abandon printed Yellow Page ads would be a big mistake for many companies. I live on the Web and am constantly using Google to search things, but in the last two weeks, when I needed a couple of vendors to come visit my house, I opted to find them via Yellow Page ads, rather than the search engines. To your point, it's all about understanding how your customers shop and catering to their specific ways of finding you. When you make assumptions about how consumers behave, you typically will end up making mistakes and lose revenues in the process.
  • salon posted on 6/15/2010
    In response to the web designers comment, I disagree that placing an ad in a phone book is a waste of time, true many people are switching from land lines to cell phones, but the most common place to find a phone number for a business is a phone book. Even if you aren't using a land line when looking for a local business it is much easier to flip open your phone book than attempt to find it online.
  • Ellen posted on 7/14/2010
    What are you guys, dinosaurs? Get with the times! Even my grandmother doesn't use a phonebook anymore!
  • Stacy Ranta posted on 7/28/2010
    Stacy Ranta
    Phone books are still a viable advertising medium for many industries. Especially businesses that serve the local area. I think the best possible solution for these companies is to have a web page AND a phone book listing. I still keep a phone book on hand. When I wanted to find a local independent bakery, I went to the yellow pages.
  • Raymonnd B posted on 8/8/2010
    Raymonnd B
    You need both, We are at a crossroads where not taking advantage of both medias will cost you customers. It also depends on the size of the town you live in. In a small town face to face networking with a phonebook ad, may be more then enough. A large city may need a phonebook ad along with a website that will give you so many front page clicks. A term used to promise your ad will be the first seen when a local search is made. Remember too much advertising may get you too much work that you are not ready to handle. Those customers that you can not service now will very rarely give you a second chance.

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