The economic downturn is a reality, but the specific ways that it affects businesses run the gamut based on the size and type of business. During these times, small, local businesses often feel the pinch more quickly and sharply, causing some to take evasive maneuvers to keep afloat. Based on the Yellow Pages industry’s experience, those who stick with proven advertising programs—-rather than cutting them out of their budgets-—continue to find success with generating new customers and retaining current ones.
Keeping a strong pulse on the local business marketplace, the Yellow Pages industry’s feet-on-the-street sales teams talk with small businesses everyday. They hear their concerns about a variety of increasing operating costs and customers’ shrinking amount of disposable income. Buff Walker, south region vice president, R.H. Donnelley, also points out that some businesses have decided to only advertise in their immediate areas. They express concern about including surrounding areas because they cannot compete with “the locals” due to expensive fuel costs.
There is also an issue of service-based versus product-based businesses. For example, in the home improvement industry, some consumers are trying to tackle projects on their own rather than hiring a contractor, or they are simply putting off projects longer than before unless they are emergencies. And, local product-based businesses are facing pricing wars with nationwide chains, competing for consumers’ smaller pocketbooks. Vincent Lombardo, vice president of sales for Ambassador Yellow Pages, said, “We’ve noticed that the value of a job may be higher for some service-related businesses—the contractor who puts up fencing may currently generate higher-priced business than the company that sells the fencing materials.”
Despite these types of challenges, small businesses are still making savvy decisions with their budgets—-even though they may have less money to spend. Many of them are cutting out some advertising, but they recognize the need to stay with the types of media that continue to produce leads and diversify with both print and online ads. Walker reports that, “The Yellow Pages is typically the last cut made,” and notes that current Internet Yellow Pages areas of interest include hyperlink compatibility, ratings and reviews, tracking capabilities, and the ability to change company information easily. Another observation is that the volume of Yellow Pages leads continues to be high. Once these qualified leads are delivered to the business, it is up to the advertisers to seal the deal.
Choosing to stay the course with regard to advertising can be difficult, especially with widespread media reporting and speculating on the economic woes of the nation. However, advertising in media with proven and measurable ROI, such as the print and online Yellow Pages, eliminates the “How do I know this is working?” question and allows businesses to track where their leads are actually coming from. Lombardo adds, “Smart business owners are continuing to advertise-—they see it as an investment to capture the dollars that are waiting to be spent rather than as a questionable operating expense.”
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.