How To Multiply The Response To Your Yellow Pages Ad

How To Multiply The Response
To Your Yellow Pages Ad
( Or Any Other Print Ad )

If you think that advertising in the Yellow Pages is not right for you, you may be right. But before you write off the Yellow Pages, you should do a bit of research into how many responses your heading receives every year. You might be surprised. You might find a great opportunity that a lot of your competitors are missing out on.

If you DO advertise in the Yellow Pages, there are a few things you need to know. First of all, you should understand the nature of the beast, which may come as a surprise.

The Yellow Pages directories are a “marketing orphan”. They are unloved, unglamorous, unsexy. Most marketing experts know next to nothing about how to use them. But I’ve seen many very profitable businesses derive virtually all their business from one good ad run in many directories.

But, and this is extremely important, less than 1% of Yellow Pages advertisers know what an effective ad is. The bad rap the Yellow Pages has is not earned. If you know how to use them, the Yellow Pages can be incredible!

Most advertisers have the vague notion that they want a response. That’s logical. “We want the phone to ring!” they say. But the way they go about it leaves a lot to be desired.

Exposed: The #1 Cardinal Sin of Print Advertising

The biggest mistake neophyte advertisers make is to assume that the theme of their ad should be: “Who we are, what we do, and how to reach us”. The second biggest error is not having a great headline. Here’s a clue: Your name and logo are not a headline. They are the least important things in your ad—until a person wants to call you and knows exactly why. At that moment, and not before, your company name and number become important.

The “name, rank and serial number” approach is wrong for any print ad, but especially the Yellow Pages, which is a “magic moment” medium. There is no other medium where people in need go to find an instant solution, ready to take buying action right away. If you could but understand the mindset of your prospect in their moment of need, you would dominate your heading year after year.

The Ultimate Secret To Acing The Yellow Pages

Now let me share with you a powerful secret that very few people in the marketing business understand. You may not believe it at first, but if you take it to heart, this secret could revolutionize your Yellow Pages response forever—and the rest of your direct response print ads too!

Here’s the secret: the Yellow Pages Is NOT A Visual Medium! (Huh?) Yes, really, no kidding.

But how can that be? Aren’t all ads supposed to look great and employ a lot of “white space”? Sorry to break it to you, but those are two of the big lies that agencies and graphic artists have been perpetuating for years, which have been consistently disproved by measuring response.

The Yellow Pages may be full of colour and pictures and maps and words. And yes, you have to LOOK at the page to read it, but it is not a visual medium. Let me offer you an analogy to explain:

Imagine going to a fancy restaurant and ordering supper. The waiter brings your order along with a picture of a beautiful meal, which looks even better than the one, you ordered. Which one would you want to eat?

The incorrect assumption everyone makes is that appearance counts for more than substance in the Yellow Pages. Anybody who tells you this does not understand the state of mind of your Yellow Pages prospect in need. The only time a prospect looks at your ad is when they are in dire need and ready to take action. They are not looking for pretty pictures.

With nothing but pretty pictures to choose from, your prospect will have to pick one. But, when there’s one good information ad, and several pretty pictures, the information ad will win, hands down, every time.

How To Double The Response
To Your Yellow Pages Ad

You will double your response — EASILY — if you turn your ad into an information piece, or “advertorial”. Why? Because the person who is in distress wants information—all the credible information they can get their hands on. And, even more than that, you will stick out like a sore thumb. Your ad will jump off the page and it will look like an information piece, not a sales pitch. Everyone else is saying, “I’m the best!” and you are giving them precisely the information they crave. Who do you think they’ll want to talk to?

I have seen information ads multiply the response of image ads in the Yellow Pages on numerous occasions. In every case, the directory rep tried to talk my client out of running the ad. Don’t listen to them! Your directory sales rep is in the space selling business, not in the direct response business.

And one more thing: once you run your ad, try to resist the temptation to plaster the little “Let Your Fingers Do The Walking Stickers” on your vehicles and in your store window. Did you ever stop to think how foolish it is to invite your prospects and customers to go where your competitors are advertising?

Tom St. Louis is a marketing strategist, copywriter and president of Zerald Communications of Toronto. For a free critique of your Yellow Pages or print ad, go to