Why does the "yellow pages" still exists, in printed form?

Ever wonder why local phone directory companies still print hardcopy phone books? The answer to this mind-boggling question, which we all ask ourselves when we find a new edition of the phone book on our doorstep, will surprise you.

Remember using the phone book or your local "Yellow Pages" to find everything from a plumber to pizza? If you're like me, you don't have any use for a hardcopy phonebook anymore. Let's face it, Google® is the modern-day "yellow pages" we all use to find the products and services we need.

The last time I had a phone book in my hands was a few years ago when I tried to impress my father-in-law by tearing his phone book in half. There's a trick to doing it. I forgot the trick and thus failed in my attempt to display a feat of strength. The only thing the phone book was good for that day, was a good laugh. All jokes aside, if no one uses the phone book anymore except for during a party trick or maybe as kindling to start a campfire, why are they still printing them?

Phone directory companies have some clever tricks up their sleeve, to explain why they think it’s still a good idea to print and distribute hard copies.

Your local phone directory provider (or "yellow pages" company) will try to convince you that some people still use their hardcopy directory. They'll try to sway you to keep advertising in the printed directory and they use tried and tested sales ‘logic’ to do this. The phone book salesperson will admit they only have 10% of the readership they enjoyed during the yellow pages' golden ages. They’ll go on to explain that they also have 100x fewer businesses actually posting advertisements in the directory. Thus, if you keep advertising in the phone book, you'll end up getting ten times more visibility. They'll do "the math" in an attempt to make sense of advertising in a way that is no longer effective. 

If you have ever met a yellow pages salesperson, you'll agree they are very skilled in their sales techniques. They are skilled to the point that they can often still convince businesses to advertise in the yellow pages!

Businesses often still advertise in the phone book because in doing so, they get their ad or business listing “bundled” with other related products and services that the phone directory company offers. One of the products that are typically “bundled” is a listing in the online directory the yellow pages company provides. Similar to the printed phone book, most people avoid these directories since they end up just being another step between you and the business' website you are trying to reach. In fact, Google will do its best not to show these online phone directories above search results for local business websites. They are just not very effective at all. 

When you look at the Google Analytics reports for websites that pay for this type of online directory, it is almost always the case that there are zero referrals stemming from them, yet the phone book company will have you convinced that you cannot afford to not get found in their directory. They'll throw numbers at you that will make your head spin. The reality is, the largest number of views are always of a particular category in the directory, rather than your actual listing itself. It is clear to see that the numbers don't add up, and what they amount to is not worth paying for at all.

Given what I have just explained above, you might find yourself asking why on earth a business owner would agree to pay for not one, but two useless marketing channels bundled together. A key reason as to why this is happening boils down to how the phone directory companies are now presenting themselves to the client. They don't even like to be categorized as “phone directory companies” anymore. Instead, they want businesses to see them in a new light, as internet marketing companies. They have changed the title, and now offer a suite of services that would make more sense to businesses. These include: Web Design, Social Media Management, Search Engine Optimization,  and pay-per-click advertising, (on top of the online and hard copy phone directories they are known for selling) 

Make sense? Instead of trying to fight against Google, your local phone directory company will now additionally sell you Google Ads® or whatever search engine marketing services you need, as long as you keep your ad or listing in their hard copy and online directory. This leads me to an important point that illustrates the main reason a phone directory company will not abandon their printed directory altogether and shift to Google. That hard physical copy. The phone book that you can hold in your hand is the very tool that justifies the need for a one year contract. Think about it. The client recognizes that the phone book is printed once at the beginning of the year and that all ads stay for a year. If you decide to go ahead, you must pay for the year. There is no opting out or changing your mind once you have committed for that year, the phone books have gone to the press for printing by that time. The annual contract format makes it super easy to get all their client's contracts renewed at once in multiple formats and locked in for a full year.

Unlike online advertising platforms that allow you to activate or deactivate your ad at any time, change advertisements or prices, etc., printed phone directories have no method to allow you to cancel or change your ad. Can you imagine having to reprint and redistribute hundreds of thousands of copies just because you changed your mind? Can you imagine being a take out restaurant and having an old outdated menu and prices listed in the phone book that you have to explain when orders are placed? Or how fun is it having frustrated customers calling to complain that things have changed from an ad you wrote 11 months ago? Worse yet, having to stick to prices, items, and services that no longer make sense to your business, as you have advertised them in a certain way and feel you need to honour that.

In a nutshell, by including a basic listing in the printed phone book, the phone directory company can ask you to sign an annual contract for all the bundled services they have included. So, even though you should be able to cancel your shitty website that is not performing, or stop an executed pay-per-click campaign at any time with little effort, they won't let you do so, as it is an “annual contract”. Courtesy of, “the phone book”...

We often get approached by some of these clients who are looking for better internet marketing results than what they’ve been receiving from phone directory companies that offer these watered down, bundled up services. It is when they start to shop around for alternatives, that they are often shocked to find that they are locked into an air-tight annual contract which they signed when they agreed to give their local directory a go at getting them more business from Google or the internet. The real kicker comes when they realize the contract they signed auto-renews if they don't cancel by a certain date.

It’s true, most modern phone directory companies don't have the workforce they need to renew annual contracts. Instead, their contracts now include a clause that states the agreement will continue unless there is a written request to cancel, right before their "print deadline."

We are mere days away from our local phone directory company's contract deadline. Any of their clients who want to cancel their bundles need to cancel their contracts, in writing! They are required to send a signed letter, in order to end their contracts. It's harder to get out of a phone company's marketing services contract than it is to get out of a gym contract. And we all know how hard it is to escape a gym contract when the new year’s resolution wears off. 

So, if you are still reading this and you are unhappy with the phone directory company's internet marketing services, make sure to send a letter, or do whatever you need to do, to get out of your annual contract before the deadline. Then give us, or any other company a call!

What you will find when you hire us instead:

1) We don't have contracts. If we suck, you can cancel any time.

2) We don't pocket 50% of your budget. We charge a set fee regardless of your account. That means we don't get rewarded if we drive your Google Ads® or Facebook Ads® budget up every month.

3) We do the work ourselves. Most phone directory companies outsource their work to some big white label internet marketing company, which most-likely outsources everything to India or the Philippines. We are not middlemen in this process, what you see is what you get.

4) We focus on conversion and results. We get paid by our clients to generate more, real, tangible business. You make money, and we hope that means you will keep working with us, so we can help you do it. Period.