Yellow Pages Advertising

Is a Yellow Pages ad worth running? Business owners share experiences and anecdotes. July 24, 2005

I'm thinking of placing an ad in the local Yellow Pages, but I'm not sure it's worth it. Any thoughts on the subject?

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
I have had the single line in the yellow pages and a larger 1/4 column. Over 5 years, I've gotten 3 calls. I always ask when we have a new client walk in. We also did the radio ad for a month. One call. There's no real easy answer when it comes to advertising. The things that work best for us are calling on contractors and word of mouth.

I've had a Yellow Page ad for years and it does bring in work, and lots of people looking for firewood, free wood for their projects, and people looking for work. The job I'm doing now came from the Yellow Page ad, and the next kitchen and whole house came from the ad, as it helped me get in with a builder that I like working with. A good small Yellow Page ad placed yearly will, in my opinion, pay off at least to a point. A friend of mine places an ad weekly in their local free paper and that seems to pay off very well for him. It all depends on your target area - what works for some, won't for others.

I have found that Yellow Pages ads are worthless. I was part of a test marketing of Yellow Page ads where several ads of different sizes were placed with different phone numbers. There was a counter on each number keeping track. The size of ad made no difference and almost all the calls were from other phonebooks wanting to sell adds.

Maybe in some areas they are worthless, but not in all areas. One thing I have learned is that people start calling shops in the book alphabetically. So a shop name starting with the letter A gets first shot. Another thing - if the customer is using the phone book, they're usually new to the area or don't network with people in the construction trade, so the Yellow Pages is the first place they go. If the ad states that you do different styles of kitchens like traditional, contemporary, shaker, arts and crafts, etc., the people who have a stack of kitchen books and know what style they want will call you first. Advertising does work, but it is expensive. It all depends on your target customer and the area you live in. This year I'm going to scale down the size of my ad, and try to work more with builders versus homeowners. Builders rarely call Yellow Page ads. Word of mouth advertising is by far the best, but it takes time.

The Yellow Pages are primarily used by people looking to make a purchase for an immediate need (car trouble, going to dinner, toilet overflow, need a widget today, etc,), so if you have a limited budget, it would not be the best source of new kitchens. Otherwise, ad placement and content will get them to you first.

I suppose that what market you are catering to would be the determining factor. We have a one line plain text name and number that was thrown in with the commercial number and have received little more than solicitation. The AAAAAAAA Cabinetry approach is a whole other game. If you want to go there, be prepared to have a fixed price available to quote for a kitchen of unknown size and detail over the phone. These are the only cold calls out of the Yellow Pages I've ever had (and I think it would be worse if your ad looked like you encouraged this). These are people shopping for the impossible price and unless you want to do something for nothing (for whatever reason), these calls just waste your time as well as theirs. Serious clients do not search the yellow pages for a cabinetmaker. Come on.

I keep a small block locally just so folks can find my number, website and address, nothing more. I used to run a large reverse color ad that was the first ad seen - one call in two years.

I rarely advertise, but I'm in a small rural area where everyone knows the color of your socks:) But, when I want to announce a new service (new solid surface line, etc.), I place a block ad in the free county shopper. Costs $25/week for a 2X6 block and brings instant results every time. I end up turning work away if the ad runs more than once.

Other than that, I use truck lettering and yard signs at job sites to help make it appear I'm everywhere and much busier/bigger than I am. Good metal signs are $100/each here. Add a box in which to place business cards for the high traffic areas.

I have the cheapest line in the yellow pages that is available. One line, bolded because it was free to bold it. I have it in the large metropolitan phone book 10 miles to the north of the shop. I get good results. Generated about 20% of total business last year.

I also have one in the local yellow pages. Nothing in 2 years. It depends on whose YP you are advertising in. There are about four different companies that do YP in my area. Stick with the phone company.

We keep our name in the yellow pages for the out-of-town contractors that need to find someone like us. Other than that, it's toilet seats and door repair type calls. But here is my best yellow page story…

About 18 years ago someone told a customer of ours (they weren't a customer then) that there was a shop in our town that could do the work. They called another shop who had a nice ad and got our number. That call has led to close to 20 million in sales and referrals over the years, what with all the architects and superintendents that we met through this one customer. Not that I would rely on a yellow page ad, but the other shop's (a residential shop that doesn't do commercial) ad sure helped us.

Yellow Pages help your present customers reconnect easier, but seldom produce enough new work to pay for themselves. When I opened up here two years ago, I did no advertising. I located in a high traffic area and the word quickly spread. We had a free Yellow Pages listing, but when the new phone book came out, they "forgot a few ads," ours included.