ICS Magazine

Should You Advertise in the Yellow Pages?

September 15, 2008

Can the Yellow Pages work? Of course. It's worked okay for me. I know other cleaners for whom it's worked pretty well. But is it the best bang for your advertising buck? Here's the problem…

Many cleaning company owners go about planning their advertising backwards. They choose a medium and plan their message around it.

Instead, plan your message first. Then choose the best method to get your message across to your ideal target client. Yellow Pages, Internet, direct mail, etc., whatever you select is nothing more than a vehicle to get your message to your target.

So should you advertise in the Yellow Pages? Let's see. Does your message appeal to the Yellow Pages reader? Is it an emergency service like water damage? Do you offer same-day service? Do you have something to offer that differs from the other cleaners in the Yellow Pages?

These questions are answered when you create a strategy statement. This is simply an advertising plan made before you choose your vehicle.

Some questions you should answer in a strategy statement:
  • What is the one key point you'd like your target prospect to know?
  • Who is your target prospect?
  • What advantages do you have over the competition?
  • What is your company's position in the market place?
  • Which advertising media are you currently using?
  • What problem do you want your advertising to solve?
  • Exactly what do you want your target prospect to do when they see your ad?

The answers will help you choose the best vehicle for you. For instance, if your company holds the position of having the highest prices for carpet cleaning, the Yellow Pages may not be a good choice. Not that it can't work, but it will make your job of selling on the phone much harder.

As well, if you don't have a unique selling point that sets you apart from your competitors, the Yellow Pages isn't likely to work well.

Put yourself in the place of your prospect. What is she doing when she picks up the Yellow pages? She already knows she has a need for cleaning, and it's often a need that has to be met within a few days.

She's sitting in her kitchen with a list of every carpet cleaner in town at her fingertips. Now ask yourself if this medium seems like the best place to advertise your message. Are you prepared to compete here?

Instead of planning, too many service business owners choose their advertising based on a sales rep who happens to call their office. Just because the Yellow Pages rep calls, doesn't mean you have to advertise-especially these days when you have many more options.

In fact, make a rule to never base your advertising decision on a sales call. Tell this to the advertising solicitors who call your office. This will help you make a better choice when selecting your advertising vehicle.

Consider this: Internet searches are quickly replacing the old paper Yellow Pages book. Consumers want more information than can be found in a small, paid-for Yellow Pages ad. The Yellow Pages directories realize this, so they've shifted to selling Internet Yellow Page space. But to do effective Internet marketing, you need to step outside the Yellow Pages.

Pick a vehicle that is the answer to all the questions in your strategy statement. No, you won't find a perfect match to all the questions. But choose the one that makes the most sense. Your best choice might very well be a Yellow Pages directory. But you'll never know until you plan a well thought out strategy for your message.