There was a day when an ad in the local phone book was all a small business needed to market their services. But let me ask you, where’s your copy? And when was the last time you used it to find a local business?
Today most people (and most likely you) reach for their phones when they need a plumber, hair stylist, or the latest gadget.
It’s faster, more convenient, and can give you much more detailed information than a small ad in a printed book.
That doesn’t necessarily mean a phone book is a bad thing, but I know you want to make sure your marketing dollars net you the best return possible— so we’re going to look at the two advertising mediums head to head.
Comparing the Amount of Content
Yellow page: Limited space or characters
Web page: Unlimited content
Standing out from your competitors (more on that later) is important. And the way you differentiate your business is to convey what makes your offerings unique and better suited to your audience’s needs.
Your ad in a phone book is limited to either (a) a specific number of characters, or (b) a size constraint. Either limitation restricts how well you can convey your unique value to your customer.
A web page, on the other hand has no limit to the amount of content you can include. This means you can have the freedom to fully convey your message.
Traffic / Viewership
Yellow page: Decreasing every year
Web page: Increasing daily
How many times in the last week have you pick up your phone? And how many times have you picked up the phone book (weightlifting purposes aside)?
For years the viewership of phone books has been on a steep decline. For most, it goes straight from the porch to the recycle bin.
Traffic to websites, since their inception, has only increased.If you need proof, just look at your own research habits. Where do you turn for answers?
On the Go
Yellow page: Not convenient to transport
Web page: Mobile friendly
Chances are you take your cell phone everywhere you go, and with the popularity of skinny jeans stuffing the 2 inch phone book in your pocket is less than flattering.
People live life on the go, and that means they might need to look something up when they’re not at home. A web page is convenient for people access from anywhere with an internet connection.
Yellow page: Possible, but difficult
Web page: Analytics for everything
It’s not that it’s impossible to measure how well your phone book ad is performing, but it’s not easy. You have to either rely on your customers to tell you that’s where they came from, or survey every phone call you get (ain’t nobody got time for that).
Websites, however, constantly track and analyze your traffic. Not only the volume of traffic, but the source, location, and even demographics and behaviors of people on your page.
This type of analysis allows you to easily measure the effectiveness of your advertising, but easily track the return on investment— helping you spend your marketing dollars more wisely.
Yellow page: Limited to your geographical region
Web page: Globally accessible
You only get the phone book to your local area, and for some businesses that might be enough… but that is changing daily.
A lot of local businesses focus on customers they can serve in person, but eCommerce has made it possible for many companies to offer products and even services remotely.
Restaurants sell gift certificates, species, and sauces, and ship worldwide.
Physicians can, in some cases, diagnose and even prescribe medicine online.
With the ease of worldwide communication, why would you want to limit yourself to a very small market when you could easily each anyone on the planet?
Updates & Changes
Yellow page: Once per year
Web page: Anytime – Instantly
Ever change your address? Phone number? How about add or remove a service you offer?
With a phone book you’re going to have to live with that until it’s time to renew.
A web page allows you to make instant changes to your marketing message at any point in time.This allows your company to be more nimble and take advantage of seasonal changes, as well as keep up with the market as it changes.
Yellow page: One category per ad
Web page: Unlimited targeting with metrics
It’s likely your business offers more than one service. In the phone book world this means you’ll need more than one ad (dolla dolla bills, y’all).
Web pages allow you to create dedicated pages for all of the services you offer. This gives you the opportunity to come up for many different search queries not just the one, pre-defined category you have to fit into with the phone book.
Remember the paragraph earlier about tracking? This comes in handy here too… Online tools can help you research and measure traffic and trends in different search terms. This allows you to optimize your content & pages to match the phrases people are most likely to look for.
Yellow page: Shows your competitors next to your listing
Web page: Allows you to differentiate your company
Your phone book ad lists you next to all of your competitors, and is the way the salesman gets you to keep buying a bigger ad.
A custom designed web page gives you the freedom to showcase what makes your business unique and helps position you above your competition. Professional website copy can make visitors instantly feel like they’ve found the exact solution they are looking for— forgetting your competitors even exist.
Cost & Ownership
Yellow page: Rented space with varying rates
Web page: Complete ownership available
Comparing prices “apples to apples” is a bit difficult, but think of it this way…
Your phone book ad is a rental.
Your web page is your own property.
While the upfront cost of a website might be more, but you are not reliant on another company to provide you a space— you own your own.
Some website providers (like us here at Easy Web Co.) even offer monthly plans for a website that is often LESS than the price of a phone book ad each month. (You can learn more about our pricing here)
There’s no arguing that digital marketing is a more modern, agile, and effective form of marketing when you compare it to traditional phone book advertising. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that phone books are worthless.
Take into consideration your local market, competition, & the popularity of your local book.
For most businesses a combination of the two can be effective. What most people realize is that their return is much better on a digital presence because of all of the outlined reasons in this article.