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Marketing Blog

Are the Yellow Pages Phone Book Obsolete?

We very frequently get asked by small and medium sized business owners if they should keep their ad in the Yellow Pages. 95% of the time our answer is no, there is really no legitimate reason to have an ad in the printed phone book. At one time the Yellow Pages was the go to place when you needed help and didn’t know who to call. In fact many of us still remember the popular phrase “Let your fingers do the walking!” Check out this commercial from 1970.

Phone books were a mainstay in every home in America and grew to be so huge that they could arguably be considered a lethal weapon and were frequently used to demonstrate feats of strength by tearing them in half! Until the mid 2000’s, if you wanted your business found, the Yellow Pages was one of the best methods for getting your business found. However the almost overnight phenomenon of the Apple iPhone in 2007 and then the Android version, the HTC in 2008 was the beginning of the end for printed phone book. According to recent PewCenter research over 90% of US adults have cell phones and their fingers are still doing the walking, but now they are typing search terms into Google.

But the question still comes up, should I advertise in the Yellow Pages? Honestly, every time I want to ask when was the last time you actually saw a Yellow Pages book outside of a strong man competition? Exactly!

So here are 5 reasons why you should drop your Yellow Pages ads like hot cakes.

  1. It’s Expensive! Yellow Pages used to have a strangle hold on businesses and convinced them their phone ringing depended on the size of their ad. After all, if you weren’t in the phone book, you weren’t credible. Honestly, when I started Beacon Publishing & Design, LLC in 2001, I had several well respected business people tell me this. They weren’t all wrong back then. The sad result of the Yellow Page’s self proclaimed monopoly was that they could charge outrageous prices for their ads. Now we have much, much better avenues open to us for our advertising dollars. Google AdWords, Facebook ads and promoted posts, and Twitter ads just to name a few.
  2. You are committed to a full year. Once that mammoth book is printed you are committed to that ad and the price tag that came with it for a full year. There is no opportunity to change, update or adjust any advertising you have invested in. In contrast, inbound marketing is flexible and adjusts on the fly, if needed, to the way your audience is responding. Not being locked into print means you have more capacity to adjust services, hours, products, staff and so much more. You don’t have to live with an ad that is outdated two months after it goes to press.
  3. The Yellow Pages system is outdated and does not work for most of today’s consumers. Now it’s more about our thumbs doing the walking and not through that huge book anymore. According to a recent study Google owns 89% of the US mobile organic search market and more than 1/2 of Google searches come from mobile. Why would and number of the 90% of Americans who have a smart phone, put it down to pick up the Yellow Pages? Unless they were actually competing in a strong man competition that is. We already have our mobile devices in our hands and we are going to use the tools at hand to search for things we want or need.
  4. The ROI (Return on Investment) on Yellow Pages is terrible! Most businesses struggle to track where their leads come from and having an ad in the phone book is just making the whole problem more difficult. When we use inbound marketing techniques, we can track exactly where leads come from and where they are going. Often we joke with clients that we can track the leads directly to their door. Using tools like Google Analytics, HubSpot, Facebook Analytics, Twitter Analytics, and Pinterest Analytics, we know exactly when a specific lead starts to interact with your company, when they visit your website, what they look at and when they fill out a contact form or click on the phone number button on your website. Those are some powerful tracking tools that take all of the guess work out of the ROI of inbound marketing!
  5. You can still get a FREE listing on But Yellow Pages has evolved you say. They have and an app now you say! Shouldn’t I still advertise with them you ask? Don’t be fooled, a listing with that gets updated on their app is still free just like the old days when a single line phone number in the book was free when you signed up for a land line. It doesn’t hurt anything and can help some of your search engine rankings to be listed with, you just don’t have to buy a very expensive ad and be locked in for a long time anymore.

The bottom line is that the days of the Yellow Pages phone book being a viable option for current small and medium businesses are long gone. If you are a company looking for the best ROI for your budget inbound marketing is a much more effective marketing technique (60% cheaper than traditional methods). Give us a call at 907-563-6008 or send us an email for a free marketing evaluation or just a chat about a smarter, more effective marketing technique. We would love to hear from you!

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