• http://twitter.com/marketingkat Kat Anderson-Shwydky

    While I have not used a printed version of Yellow Pages for several years, I quite frequently use their iPhone app. I love it! It’s easy to use, has a very clean layout and syncs very nicely with my phone’s maps application so I can get directions quickly and easily. Companies thinking of leaving YP altogether may want to consider whether or not this would still be beneficial for them. Print may be on the way out, but online and mobile are steadily growing.

  • Justin Sous

    Chris, great article. Working for an Internet marketing company that has transitioned from primarily selling yellow pages, with a clientele in the service industry, I have also been wrestling with this as well. Every metro area seems to be different in terms of yellow page usage, and the way in which they’re used. Some customers are still getting yellow pages calls from books/numbers from 10 years ago, where some customers are virtually getting nothing from the YP anymore. It’s no secret that YP are on the decline, but it looks like for now they’re still worth buying for some. Great article!

  • http://twitter.com/LuftigWarren Luftig Warren

    Nice perspective, Chris.  Some of our clients are shocked when we recommend either print ads or direct mailers as part of their tactical approach.  But our tactics are all developed through research.  If our research shows that a sizable percentage of our clients’ prospects are still looking to the YP or to direct mailers for information, we include it.  And our clients have certainly benefited from their competitors leaving those venues…fewer mailers coming across a prospect’s desk means that our clients are getting a higher percentage of the exposure!

  • Pat Grady

    No, you can still eat toast.

  • http://twitter.com/SSHobbs Stephanie Hobbs

    Chris, appreciate the thoughtful perspective of a very complicated issue.  Our research still shows 7 of out 10 US adults use the YP, but we also know that consumers use a variety of sources and that’s fragmenting the media, making it more difficult to measure.  Looking forward to hearing more from you on this subject at the Local Search Association’s Conference Search Starts Here, April 21-24  in Boca Raton!

  • http://twitter.com/JoeFoerch Jozef Foerch

    Countdown till an angered YP rep reads this and pretends to be a customer of YP?? Great article Chris!

  • http://seo.d-biz.co.il/ d-biz

    As for newspapers – perhaps the overall revenue is declining, but still – U.S newspapers were sold in almost $800 million during 2011. Printed news is here to stay for a long, long time.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/30/business/media/online-ambitions-fuel-newspaper-deals.html 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Hart/1229758293 Jim Hart

    The bundling comments are spot on. I’ve seen several of them where the inclusion of print seems out of place, as though the digital products are being used to prop up continued advertising in the printed directory. Try unbundling the package. You’ll usually find the print component is close to free. Kind of like trying to cancel your land line from the cable company bundle. 

  • Silver Smith

    Kat, I agree — there are a number of interactive areas where Yellow Pages companies are competing effectively. They are still struggling with the transition from those days of astonishing revenue from print to more digitally-based income, which is hampering their ability to do even better in digital than they’re currently doing. However, I think some of them are going to survive the transition and emerge as serious longterm digital players.

  • Silver Smith

    Luftig, I think your approach is the gold standard — choosing what’s likely best for the client individually, without biasing client’s promo campaigns based on preconceptions.

  • Silver Smith

    d-biz, you’re right — Newspapers have experienced the same issues that YP has faced, and I would expect some of my tips could be similarly applied to that medium. In fact, while being a member of the technorati, I also like reading print newspapers on occasion, so I’d expect they also continue to have some worthwhile promotional value for particular industries and markets.

  • Silver Smith

    Stephanie, thanks for your comments!  I probably tried to oversimplify the whole thing herein, with my tips based on generalizations — in hopes of making a simple guide for small businesses to figure out whether print was still good for them. I’m hoping that the generalized tips might help more than the gut-reaction decisions that I hear of many businesses making.

    There is a dichotomy between anecdotal reports from some businesses/industries who report dramatic drops in referrals from print YP versus the surveys which demonstrate that some percentages of consumers continue to use printed phone books. So I hope I made it clear that it’s not a purely either/or scenario in many cases — the actual situation is as you’ve described, with a still-substantial set of consumers continuing to use print in many cases.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pat-Lazure/1422134425 Pat Lazure

    Good article.  I can’t resist.  I have to share this: 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqqjVyOYmow

  • telrific

    Think about the .com boom and bust. When the “dust settled” the strong emerged stronger.
    Local Search is going through the same cyclone online, but just remember, it happened offline too.
    The hurrican of offline directories made Yellow a lighthouse in the storm and the huge winner.
    If Yellow companies get with the times, that is regroup and catch up, Yellow will still prevail.
    They just have to survive the storm intelligently - the “online win” is their’s to lose.
    I see emerging efforts that can be the beginning of success for many centuries online too.  Yellow Search is a consolidation effort that will help boost the overall effort for sure.

  • divario2011

    I believe much of what you say also applies here in the UK.  But I wonder how IYP traffic would fare if Google stopped filling the local SERPs with such a high percentage of directory results pages (as they currently do in the UK).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Schroeder/100000805386504 Brian Schroeder

    A fair analysis. The most telling is simply the amount of ads (economy may have an effect) and the valution of the business. Hard to argue witht he facts.

  • Ed Tapia

    Business owners need results and phone books just are not providing it. Selling the sizzle and not the steak does not work anymore. I actually heard a phone book owner say in a sales meeting “Were selling hope” but to me I felt like we were selling black and white TVs, ya some people would use them but are they really that practical? We have a client that requested that compared his  Big $28,000 Phone Book campaign against our Marketing Media Mix Internet Marketing campaign. Over 8 months Internet Marketing generated 1603 calls and the phone books only 88 calls. Now these phone books had a distribution of about 554,300 phone books. See the reports at http://marketingmediamix.com/web-design-a-seo/internet-vs-phone-books

  • Dead Phonebooks

    Phone books have had a long run but there’s no denying the inevitable.  Technology and the economy force companies to adapt or go out of business. Just because they’re still around does not mean they should be. Does anyone still refer to Encyclopedias? So many companies that I remember growing up with are gone, like Woolworth (1879-1997), Montgomery Ward (1872-2001), Borders Books and Music (1971-2011), K.B Toys (1922-2009), Circuit City (1949-2009), Linens ’n Things (1975-2008), Builders Square (1984-1999) and Hollywood Video (1988-2010).
    http://listosaur.com/miscellaneous/10-notable-retail-stores-that-went-out-of-business.html

  • http://twitter.com/YellowNames Yellow Names

    “But, there is more going on than meets the eye. Some of these companies have very healthy (and even growing) Internet traffic, and some have successfully leveraged partnership deals which help distribute their business listings out to consumers.”

    That’s the short answer …

  • http://bestcarpetcleanerreviewsx.com/ carpet cleaner reviews

    @d-biz..I don’t think printed news is here to stay for long..(ala radio) producing radio content is dead cheap..where as new paper printing is costly..once web develops a new ad-format which is lot more efficient than print ads..then the rapid decline will happen for the newspapers!

  • logan9497

    The decline of the print YP will continue. It has already started in the newspaper industry. I have noticed a bunch of local papers in NY have iApps. The development of mobile apps will force publishers to move into the digital space and away from print.

  • http://www.askforeman.com/ Stephen Foreman

    We live in a digital age where people need information at their fingertips on the go. As smart phones offer greater data integration, the print side of Yellow Pages will continue to decline in line with the decline of a generation that referred to print media rather than online media.

    Ultimately in most cases print media will decline.

  • kdedow

    It is not only the print version of YP. You can see the decrease in online search as well.
    This is the Google Insight for Search result of the german YP “Gelbe Seiten” since 2007.