• http://www.acidrazor.com Pieter Le Roux

    To be honest, I don’t think your plumbing problems are the core issue here if your wife decides to leave you because of it. A bit too petty I would think. Nice article though ;)

  • http://www.dzoseo.com/blog DZO

    Thanks for writing this article Andrew! I follow your blog and love the insight you have into local search.
    I used to work for a phone directory and saw a lot of the points you made in this article every day. I also saw far too many companies achieving no ROI on their ads in the phone book. Most companies struggle to achieve any results from the phone directories let alone have any means to track their results. I still recommend that some of my clients purchase yellow page ads (A plumber, in fact, just the other day), but I am seeing far better results helping them market their companies online.
    Granted, you have very valid points that directories do serve their purpose for some industries.

  • http://www.planetc1.com/ Michael Dorausch

    Just had conversation with a chiropractor yesterday that says he is ‘killing it’ with his local YP print ads. Why? Even though he dropped from full page color to half page b&w and print use has declined, his competitors dropped out completely, leaving him with the only category ad in the book.

    It’s a gamble for each industry player, like timing when to jump off of the Titanic.

  • http://www.visionefx.net Rick Vidallon

    YP is simply another good venue to advertise in if you are spreading your ad dollars around, though It is not the ‘end all, be all’ answer to getting loads of leads and customers.

    The main complaint I hear from ex-YP website clients is that they were getting charged $$ for every lead coming in via their YP website contact form whether they closed the deal or not.
    While this is probably not the case with direct inquiries from YP advertising, I thought it worth mentioning.

  • http://www.406strategies.com John Audette

    406 would like to challenge you to a duel….

    If we had a water leak here in the office we would pull out our Droid, say plumber Bend Oregon, see the listing Sunset Plumbing and then click on their number. In fact, Tom is talking to Sunset Plumbing right now – it took him about 8 seconds.

    We think you’re all wet.

  • http://www.localseoguide.com Andrew Shotland

    And you would be basing your trust in Sunset Plumbing on what criteria?

    There are all sorts of ways to find a plumber or any other service pro including a mobile app. Just saying, in this instance the book did me right and as Mike D & Rick mentioned, it can do the service pro right as well. Now toss me a towel.

  • http://www.getfoundfirst.com Stuart Draper

    Audette is right. Sure. Maybe he did make the call too fast. Plumbing Emergencies usually don’t give you a lot of time to dink around with reviews, but assuming he doesn’t panic, and has time, what would stop him from googling, “sunset plumbing bend oregon reviews?” And what makes a YP ad more trustworthy than a Google ad. I want a towel now too.

  • kfir Azran

    IMO, online local seo is more relevant for services and business which people face the need on the go while browsing from their mobile phones or ipads.
    i agree that the YP books still have some kind of added trust but on the other hand we cannot forget how many people already have a second nature to look for anything they need on Google.

    if I’m a small business , it would be more cost effective for me to invest in online marketing than invest in a fair size YP ad.

  • http://www.pcgdigitalmarketing.com Matt

    I read a great article about SEO and the yellow pages and how companies are wasting their money still doing old world media for their Car Dealerships. With stats that say 9 out of 10 people start their car purchase online, you’d think dealers would be more on board. It was surprising how many said they don’t know who manages or how to manage their Google Places or other online business listing website accounts/info. Check it out: http://www.automotivedigitalmarketing.com/profiles/blogs/how-are-the-yellow-pages


  • http://www.paraphrasemedia.com Joanna McDonald

    I’m with @John — if for no other reason than I don’t even HAVE a phonebook. But that aside, it’s faster to Google than flip through a phone book, and there’s likely to be at least a few stars that give a quick indicator of who’s good and who isn’t. That’s more than the YP provides.

    Maybe there’s a case to be made for those big-ticket purchases, but wouldn’t/shouldn’t social, and specifically Facebook, be more important for those than YP? (Stick with me here…) Who doesn’t ask for personal recommendations from trusted sources when they’re spending big money on roofing?

    The first thing I did when I needed a plumber and an electrician for a home renovation was ask people. The next best things are reviews and a FB Page that’s filled with thank-yous from grateful customers.

    And @Stuart’s right…I don’t think print ads are any more trustworthy than online ones.

  • http://www.ikonetic.net Chas Blackford

    Why have all your eggs in one basket? Multiple acquisition channels support broad market(ing) coverage (and branding) and can “insure” lead flow if your online efforts implode.

  • Cathy

    I had the same experience: I work from home all day long in front of a computer. When we had a freeze and my pump froze [we have a well] I went straight to the phone book! Found the biggest nastiest ad I could find that said they could be right there! With the phone book I could compare companies quickly and assess their ability to do the job. $15k later, I had water back and a happy family [not flushing is not cool]. I underestimated that is used. In fact it isn’t a sexy thing anymore but some lucky plumber is a bit richer today because I did.

  • http://marketingmediamix.com MMM

    I found myself in a similar emergency situation. There was a pretty big ice storm here in New England in 2008. I had trees and big branches down all over my yard. My wife picked up the phone book and got a few quotes. One quote was higher priced, offering more services and of coarse there was a lower price offering fewer services. I then posted an ad in Craigslist with the requesting a greater amount of services at the lowest price previously offered. Then I sat back and collected the email responses. I got the most amount of work done at the best price. The business chosen was not a phone book advertiser.

  • http://www.406strategies.com John Audette

    @Chas said: “Why have all your eggs in one basket? Multiple acquisition channels support broad market(ing) coverage (and branding) and can “insure” lead flow if your online efforts implode.”

    It does make sense to have multiple marketing channels for local and small business. But customer acquisition can vary widely. See http://www.406strategies.com/406-flightdeck/ for example.

  • Charles

    Amen to YP Andrew. My basement flooded and i immediately went into panic mode and grabbed the book instead of my blackberry and laptop. Found 2 companies immediately and had them both come out.

  • http://www.directresponse.net Dave

    Andrew, two great points you brought up about the buying process and why YP is effective.

    “Gas stations generally aren’t good YP advertisers because the decision to purchase is habitual, opportunistic, and more driven by price than research.”

    YP is not the source of advertising for impulse buys like getting gas, or the closest McDonalds. I would imagine the larger the purchasing decision of the product or service, the larger need for a source like YP.

    Furthermore, “Another rule of thumb is research. The more a decision is researched, the better the ad return is.”

    The more time devoted a customer is in understanding the product or service, the more committed the customer will feel to it. Online advertising is disturbed by noise while YP is clean and to the point.

  • http://www.yptalk.com Ken

    @Joanna, John, and the other paper atheists:

    You don’t think a print Yellow Pages ad provides you any additional insights, but a website does?? That website could be a $10.95/month special done by some tech geek, making it very easy for a company (or person) to hide behind. A print ad is a commitment. If someone has spent the money for a half page print ad it tells me a lot about the viability of that company in a heading/category I probably don’t know much about. The same can’t be said for batch of pretty stock pictures on a website.

    Plus the print Yellow Pages is going to give me the true local, local selection of businesses I am looking for. I don’t want to start clicking through 1.8 million website links. I just want the local answer to my problem/need.

  • http://www.coinso.com Yam Regev

    Good one, Andrew!

    couple of things:
    As a (past) heavy publisher on print YP from the Locksmith industry, i can tell this: It’s much more spammable from current days directories (YP.com, SupePages, Google Maps, etc..). The only directory that you can still spam the hell out is Yahoo Local.
    In our industry, MOST of the ads on the YP book are fake bizs, fake add dresses, etc..

    The first thing we did after shifting 90% of our received leads from YP book & 411 to On line platforms was- shutting down all the super expansive, 1 year contracts with YP book.

    The thing is that in these days, it’s easier to spam YP book than most of the on line platforms. They are just ‘hungry’ for money. Too hungry…

    I totally agree that YP book IS the best directory for Service Based Businesses (that don’t actually selling products & coming to service you at your location), As the book is being published exactly where your target audience is. And as you said, the on line exciting platforms are yet to tackle this issue perfectly. For instance, let’s say that I’m leaving in Berkeley, does it mean that a plumber that is located in Berkeley is actually ‘better’/ more relevant for me if he is located in Berkeley or in Oakland??- NO.

    Another good point that was discussed here is the ‘eggs & basket’ strategy. in the LSEO & SEO arenas you can not know what will happen tomorrow, you can be attacked by a Panda bear, GOOG can change their layout appearance & ranking factors (almost) instantly & your listing can be hijacked by LSEO terrorists.

    My personal conclusions:
    1. Yet, in order to survive- YP book need to reinvent themselves & to be much more cheap.
    2. YP book is better for advertisers than customers.

    Anyhow, as we know- sometimes you eat the bear & sometimes the bear eats you.. ;-)

    Yam Regev

  • http://www.localseoguide.com Andrew Shotland


    It was worth writing the post just for your comments. +1

  • JackSale

    Wow.  So much disparity in beliefs…so little facts.  I sell internet and print yellow pages.  I sell websites and seo.  I have no interest in anyone that just assumes everyone buys products and services as they do.  If you are stating how you buy is the same for everyone and provide no data to support everyone is like you….you are damaging the very community you claim to serve.  Yes the market is fragmented as never before.  Yes it is much harder for a business owner to target thier market.  ROI on almost every type of advertising is harder to quainify.  Anything a business owner is doing that turns any kind of profit, in this economy, is valuable.  There is no more options to spend a dollar and make thousands.  They need 5 to 10 ads and stratigies, in several sources, targeted to thier most likely customers, where they spend a dollar and make 3 to 500 back. There are some really smart people doing these studies.  They gather and consider all sources of data, not just the ones that might make them more money.  Great article.