Do Not Consider Running the Same Yellow Page Ad until You Read This

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Grant Businesses have a love-hate relationship with the Yellow Page directory On the one hand, business owners know they need to be there - even though everyone they compete against is there, too. They rightly fear their ad won't get noticed. That's why questions like, "How big should it be?" become important (along with up-grades that jack up an ad's cost). Are they worth it? Who knows! The whole topic is complicated and a tad intimidating. A lot is riding on the ad's ability to pull in more business. Advertisers don't feel they understand Yellow Page issues well enough to make the "right choice." So they often avoid thinking about it altogether. Even when they realize their ad isn't drawing much business, an advertiser is reluctant to make changes. To what? So, what's the rush? The Yellow Page directory only comes out once a year. Whether an ad performs like a dynamo or a disappointment, the business is stuck with it until the next directory comes around. So there's plenty of time to consider what could make it better. But somehow, people seldom do. But at some point, the ad shifts from back burner to urgent, as the next directory's deadline approaches. Decisions about what it will look like are often made "on the fly." So it never gets the scrutiny it deserves, so it can deliver the most "bang for the buck." Time pressure (coupled with the urging of the Sales Rep) leads many business owners to just "stick with what I have." That decision means hardly having to think about it at all. For another year, anyway. But that's not the best strategy - just the quickest.

A business owner should carefully consider the wisdom of each aspect of their directory listing - wording, images, size, options, which directories or headings, etc. Change involves more than the ad's appearance Never change your ad just to make it prettier. Modifications should help you connect even better with directory user's needs. That involves focusing your message and distinctive style (which is communicated in a glance) so it grabs them. Get the advice you need to fine-tune your ad from industry experts at

There's no need to feel stuck with an under-performing ad. Changing your ad can involve increasing or decreasing its size or features (or going in an unrelated direction). But such revisions are simple, compared to more complex and influential issues, like whether it communicates your distinctive personality and benefits. If you're unclear about your message, don't be surprised if readers don't get it. Sharpening your customer-grabbing message should be an ongoing concern, and not just for the Yellow Pages. Directory users are looking for information to make their buying choices easier. Looking and sounding like every other ad doesn't serve their needs - and it doesn't serve you, either. Re-assess the wisdom of your Yellow Page strategy What you spend for your Yellow Page listing is only a portion of your advertising budget. How big a slice should it be? Resist the temptation to over-spend for the value received (as most advertisers do). Costs should bear some relationship to the amount of business coming through them - which involves tracking your calls and sales. Consider directory costs relative to all the ways customers find you. Where does most new business really come from? Are marketing dollars better spent elsewhere? Figure the source of new business before getting caught by secondary questions like: how large, or which headings, or whether options like color make sense. Recognize the changes affecting directory usage. Buyers aren't relying on the print directory like they used to. Many use the Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) and search engines focused with local terms. Think about whether to direct some directory dollars there. Update your information to keep it current Business changes occur all the time. Don't forget to bring your data up to date when placing your next year's advertising. Business changes affecting your ad - Change of business name, or splitting into more than one company or brand - Added or different phone numbers; same with addresses - Add your Web site address (domain URL) or email address - Changed your policies, hours, services (like free delivery) - Additional product lines or services (like classes or supplies) - Update years in service (if in your ad) - New awards, degrees, etc. that can bolster credibility - Adding a partner (especially for professions) - Remove what's no longer true or relevant Think long and hard about what will make you stand out in the directory during the year (not just at renewal time). The success of your business could depend on how well your ad does its job. (c) 2004, Lynella Grant

--Dr. Lynella Grant, an expert in visual communication. How printed materials send signals that strengthen or undo the words. Author, The Business Card Book & Yellow Page Smarts Off the Page Press (719) 395-9450

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