Incite by Design

Caustic visions and shared thoughts on design, marketing, creativity, philanthropy, pop culture and business philosophy by Toronto design firm, Ricksticks Inc.


Ding * Dong, The Ads are Dead

What is it with the Yellow Pages that makes us cling so desperately to them?

I am meeting with yet another Yellow Pages rep tomorrow - which is another point of contention for me - every time I get comfortable with a rep, they send me a new one. Of course, the new sales rep is going to try their hardest to sell my client (a law firm) the biggest ads possible. This will never happen. We have the YP figured out, you see. (smug smile)

After a few years of careful analysis and calculated tactics that would put a skilled mathematician to shame, we've yet to see worthwhile return on investment. At first, I thought it had something to do with placement and / or ad notice-ability, so we tried some of our clever-est tactics - still, to no avail. The return is simply not where it should be to justify the cost.

After some discussion with a few legal professionals, I have come to believe that for higher end businesses, phone book listings are just not worthwhile.

Now maybe I am deluding myself, and I am fully prepared to eat crow if I am wrong, but I don't think the level of clientele our law firm is looking for is going to happen via a phone book. And my careful encouragement, along with their general frustration with the limitations of the Yellow Pages, is moving the firm toward a radical re-thinking of ad campaigns.

While we aren't prepared to fully nix the ads, we are putting more emphasis on fueling the fires we want to light through presentations and workshops, PR arenas that attract the upper echelon of local businesses. Putting more energy and money into public speaking and writing certainly requires more of the lawyers, but it pays off.

What almost all of us as marketers are finding, something that crosses the boundaries of every industry, is that consumers are ad-underinspired. Frankly, we have to work harder to grab their attention, and harder still to get them to act. I just don't feel like the telephone book ads are worth their weight (despite the desperate attempts by the reps to sell those full pagers).

Has anyone else abandoned the phone book ads for greener pastures? What new vehicle has replaced those YP ads for you?