Are you spending more money on your Yellow Pages ads than Internet marketing? Why? Do more of your customers use the yellow pages than the Internet?
If you're in any high-tech industry, this is old news to you. But, if you're selling consumer products to a local market and still think that the two-color, half-page ad you are running in your local yellow pages directory is a justifiably better marketing spend than spending a little bit of money on your Internet presence, you may want to reconsider.
Pretend it's 7:42 p.m. on a Wednesday and your heat just stopped working (its cold today in Boston). You pull up Google to search for "heating repair, city". Two seconds later, you get a list of company names, addresses, phone numbers, maps, and website URLs. Just like that, you've instantly found what you wanted, without even thinking about where you keep the yellow pages.
Do you even have a yellow pages in your home or office?
This is a common scenario used to establish how integral search engines has become in our daily lives. But what about the online versions of yellow pages? Here is some other evidence for you. In a September 2007 article written by Chris Smith for Search Engine Land, the trends he sites clearly show a decline in Internet Yellow Pages usage while search engine traffic continues to soar.
Chris writes, "It's my opinion that Google's (and other top search engine) innovations in local search combined with increasing inclusion of business listing data in the search engine results pages ("SERPs") is causing users' behavior to change. Users are finding more and more the information they're seeking directly in SERPs, negating the need to find Internet Yellow Pages."
To many marketers serving a local-area target market, search engine optimization and pay-per-click marketing can be scary, expensive territory. The great thing with all the different ways to get started in search engine marketing is that you can start simple and low cost and work your way up from there. For search engine optimization you can use the free SEO tool Website Grader, and for Google Adwords you can set your ads to only show up in a local area and pick a daily limit to your spending to manage your budget. Before you get started, just make sure you understand the difference between paid and organic search. Finally, you should also read this article about Free Google Advertising- it is a must for any local business.
In this new world of marketing, outbound marketing strategies just don't hold up when compared to inbound marketing practices - things like SEO, PPC, and becoming an active participant in the blogosphere and social media. The better you become at working all facets of inbound marketing, the more likely you are to show up on the first page of Google.
Originally published Jan 16, 2008 12:26:00 PM, updated March 21 2013