Yellow Pages used to represent the final stage of the buying process when people were ready to make a purchase decision. But today the buying process is no longer a linear path ending with the book. Instead, it follows the curves and tools of emerging online technologies.
Some Quick Facts:
Since 2007, many states quit printing residential listings or have pending requests: Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. [
Traditional land lines are being disconnected at a rate of nearly 10% each year. [
Consumers increasingly consider online services before Yellow Pages as they make purchase decisions [
"Yellow Page usage amongst people in their, say below 50, will drop to near zero over the next five years." — Bill Gates [
Buying behavior is changing rapidly as people shift their research and shopping habits from traditional marketing channels to the Internet. Consumers can educate themselves more than ever about a product or a service before they make a purchase decision. They compare prices, check customer reviews, read case studies and receive instant responses to their queries. It is just a matter of time for this change in buying behavior to hit your industry.
Some Industries Have Already Tipped
The shift in consumer behavior has already reached some industries, such as the travel industry and catering. These businesses rarely buy Yellow Pages ads because calls don’t come in that way for them. In the travel business, a number of online tools have emerged to make the buying process more engaging and educational. All of a sudden, sites like Priceline.com and
offer tons of valuable content for travelers. Couples preparing for their wedding celebrations also gravitate to the Web for catering information and honeymoon destinations.
Some Industries Are Further from the Tipping Point
There are businesses in the Service industries that haven’t fully experienced this shift yet. Plumbers and contractors, for instance, still dominate the phonebook. If you are looking to renovate your bathroom, it can difficult to find enough information about it on the Web. There isn’t enough local content online to provide consumers with the same shopping experience as what the travel industry offers.
But it is a matter of time for this new buying behavior to slowly make its way to all industries. Then, the question you will need to answer is, “Where on that line am I?”
Huge Opportunity Lies with the “Untipped” Industries
A great marketing opportunity lies with the industries that haven’t tipped yet. If you are ahead of the curve and following closely the shift in consumer behavior, you can own this new space and become a trusted advisor online. You will gain a huge competitive advantage rather than trying to catch up with competitors who have been more aware of the changes in buying processes.
As Andrew Quinn, HubSpot's Sales Training Manager with 16 years of experience in the Yellow Pages industry said, “The market is not going to go backwards and reverse itself.” That means you will need to step up.