Are the Yellow Pages relevant to your marketing strategy?

Awhile back I was talking with a service provider about marketing strategies and the topic of yellow pages advertising came up. We basically agreed that, in this day and age of Internet directories and mobile communications devices, print advertising such as the Yellow Pages were somewhat passe’.

This is no great revelation to many business owners who are fairly caught up with technology in the 21st century. If you Google, Yahoo or Bing the topic you will find a plethora of articles and blogs to support this.

The reasons for this conclusion are obvious, of course, but while there is a general consensus among those who commented online that the Yellow Pages seemed to be losing their effectiveness as a marketing tool, it rather surprised me to actually find a blog to claim otherwise – and with great conviction.

The article that caught my attention was  called “Yellow Pages Are Dead?? Far From It . It was on a wordpress blog . The author KenC was obviously defending and promoting his product and services. No surprise there. What made it an interesting read was that it was posted in 2008, was still receiving comments and he was responding to comments a year and half later with the same conviction.

This particular post addressed the argument from whom KenC called “paper athiests” that printed phone directories (the Yellow Pages in particular) were not the environmental handicaps and landfill hogs many in the “green” world made them out to be.  According to his post, Yellow Pages were still relevant and profitable forms of advertising and not a waste of good paper dumped at millions of front doors to be simply tossed aside or into recycling bins.    

It was somewhat amusing because most of the readers disagreed with his position, and one or two even questioned the data used to support his claims. Comments posted in other blog entries throughout the site echoed the sentiment, many citing personal experiences to support the argument that today’s technology has made the Yellow Pages somewhat obsolete and in comparison was an expensive form of advertising with little ROI.

The most interesting read for me, however, were his responses to the comments. While I expected him to be somewhat defensive of his position, he was aggressively so, calling his detractors “uninformed” and “obtuse”.

He seemed to take it personally, as if anyone’s dislike of a printed phone book was an attack on him. This obsession piqued my curiosity, so I decided to investigate further.

Apparently the blogger known as KenC is Ken Clark, owner of KenC Consulting LLC. According to his Bio his specialties include strategic business planning and support in sales and marketing. Now, I don’t claim to be a salesperson or marketing guru here, but I was always taught that if you want to sell or market something to someone, don’t talk down to them, don’t be condescending and never treat them like they are stupid.

I left the pages of that blog with the feeling that he did all three to me.

Now, I don’t have anything in particular against using the Yellow Pages. I do think that the Yellow Pages and printed phone directories in general have lost much of their impact and relevance in the marketplace and for many of the same reasons given by those who commented in KenC’s blog. Here are the reasons why:

The decline of traditional landlines

Traditionally, listings in the White or Yellow Pages are those of individuals and businesses who have landlines with the phone company who publishes the books. With a decrease in the number of landlines used today and an increase other forms of telecommunication such as VoIP, the printed phone directory is not the ultimate source for phone listings it used to be.

The rise of mobile telecommunications

Most consumers have cell phones and other mobile devices to communicate with. Phone kiosks with directories are disappearing from the public landscape. When was the last time you saw a phone book at a public telephone booth? When was the last time you saw a phone booth?

The proliferation of mobile apps

Mobile devices do not typically need an eight to fifteen pound book of yellow pages to lug around with them. If you need to find a dry cleaner or dog groomer in town is it easier to dial 411, Google it up or search for one on your mobile device, or is it more expedient to let your fingers do the walking through a 2000 page phone book on a shelf? Why bother with the book? There’s an app for that.

The Internet and New Media marketing venues

the White and Yellow Pages are online. I don’t need to pull the phone book that’s propping up my computer desk  to shop for a new one. I can save my back and surf for it instead.


The Cost of Doing Business includes marketing and advertising. Most businesses today, especially in a tight economy, are looking for ways to decrease spending and increase ROI. There are a myriad of ways to market your business to specific target demographics  without spending big bucks on print advertising to general audiences. While the printed Yellow Pages can still reach an audience, it isn’t a targeted one but compared to some other forms of targeted advertising it is very expensive.

Now, those are reasons I disagree with KenC’s views on Yellow Pages advertising. I tend to concur with others who disagreed with KenC and commented in his blog. Does that make me uninformed or obtuse? I don’t think so. Not at all. I never said advertising in the print Yellow Pages was totally ineffective. It is merely a form of advertising that may not be for me. However, there may be others whose businesses may do very well with Yellow Pages advertising. It may be the best fit for their business. If so, by all means go for it. If it isn’t, don’t use it. Do what works best for you, but don’t let anyone call you obtuse if you don’t think the Yellow Pages works for you.

Do you use the print Yellow Pages to advertise your business? If so, does it work well for you? Do you think the printed Yellow Pages is still relevant or has it, like other forms of print media, become obsolete and offers little ROI? Whether you agree or disagree, no worries. I won’t call you obtuse.

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