If you are currently spending money or planning to spend money on Yellow Pages ads (now called YP.com or other similar directory listing company) then you MUST read this list! I compiled this list based on my observations, research and feedback from family, friends, and clients. My hope is that after reading this your eyes will be opened to YP’s deceptive tactics and you will find better ways to spend your hard earned marketing dollars.
1. Let’s Face it. Yellow Page Ads are Dead
First, let’s give Mr. Donnelly (founder of Yellow Pages) some credit. The original Yellow Pages directory could be seen as the precursor of Google and a marketing trailblazer for it’s time. However, much has changed since Yellow Pages was founded in 1883!
“The name and concept of “yellow pages” came about in 1883, when a printer in Cheyenne, Wyoming, working on a regular telephone directory ran out of white paper and used yellow paper instead. In 1886 Reuben H. Donnelley created the first official Yellow Pages directory, inventing an industry” – Source: WikiPedia.org
However, like all industries, as disruptive technologies are discovered (the internet) legacy companies must reinvent themselves or risk being consumed by newer, more agile, and innovative companies (Google, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook, and Yelp). For this reason I see YP going the same way as the ice factory, the buggy whip company, and other .com’s. In summary, as popularity and usefulness of YP books wanes they are struggling to stay relevant by selling digital ads/listings/services, basically competing head-to-head with Google!
2. Yellow Page Ads are Difficult (if not impossible) to Measure ROI (Return On Investment)
As with any outbound advertising approach you MUST be able to measure the ROI. Can anyone tell you what is the value of an impression, or the value of “traffic” you get from yp.com?? IF you are currently in a contract with YP then you should ask them the hard questions. HOW MANY PAYING CUSTOMERS IS THIS BRINGING ME? Also, do your part to ask customers “how did they hear about you?” Download my FREE Advertising ROI Calculator to help you compare ad spending and ROI across all of your marketing channels.
3. YP Ads have a Limited Shelf Life
Another reason not to spend on YP ads is that with any digital advertisement, as soon as you stop spending money on the ads you stop getting benefits. This is not true about investing in your own inbound marketing to attract customers with your website and great content. Until these services start offering rollover ad dollars (like cell phone minutes) then the money you spent last month doesn’t help you this month.
4. Customer Service is Poor
All you have to do is read a few of the over 395 consumer complaints and one star reviews on ConsumerAffairs.com to see how bad their service is. Click image at right to read reviews of yp.com yourself. You can also see similar reviews on Yelp. Most complaints focus on one or more of the following four deficiencies:
- Lack of results/ROI
- Breach of contract (see #6 below)
- Slow or nor response to calls (especially for requested changes on website, ads, or listings)
- Billing Issues (usually overbilled)
5. Listings on YP.com are FREE
You could argue that having a listing is valuable. However, did you know that having a listing is actually FREE? Click HERE to put your free listing on YP. So why would you pay $100’s of dollars a month for something (or something nearly the same) that is free?
6. Beware of Add-On Services
Beware of all of the add-on services they try to sell you! Your account rep might try to offer you other services just to keep your business. In most cases these add-on services are are simply a waste of money. Don’t let them sell you something you did not ask for or do not understand the value of.
Add-on services may include:
- Local Search SEO
- Banner Ads
- Mobile Apps (there are many other reputable mobile app developers such as Brandgarden)
- Coupon or other Loyalty Programs
- Social Media
- Videos(they own the video and put it on their YouTube channel)
- Display Advertising
- Direct Marketing
- Search Engine Marketing
- Website Development/Hosting – YP’s resources aren’t focused on optimizing your content (like blog and website). Instead they are focused on selling ads. YP uses (or will use) your website to make it harder for you to cancel their service.
7. Yellow Pages Ignores the Earlier Stages of the Buying Process
People use YP/listings when searching for “Who” to buy from after they have already made a decision to purchase something. While this might sound good, your business is missing out on reaching leads before they reach the decision stage. Studies show that 80% of the buyer’s journey happens before they ever contact a business. (Forrester) Furthermore, the questions people ask in earlier stages are usually easier for you to rank for in search results.
- Consumer engages with 11.4 pieces of content prior to making a purchase (Forrester)
- Consumers are 5x more dependent on content than they were 5 years ago. (Nielsen)
This means you might want to invest in good SEO/SEM for your website, instead of just ads/listings. In summary, YP might be OK if you sell an impulse item, like restaurant/fast food, but the longer the Buyers Journey of your prospects, the less sense YP ads will make.
8. The 12 Month Auto-Renewing CONTRACT!
Ok, I understand the 12-month contract. As the owner of a marketing agency sometimes it takes a full year cycle to see the full fruits of our labor. However, due to the “Auto-Renew” clause and poor customer service most customers blindly keep spending. Furthermore, most of YP’s digital ad/services customers are legacy print ad customers that don’t understand digital marketing. YP preys on this lack of marketing knowledge to sell digital listings and websites. What most people don’t understand is that the VALUE of print ads is dropping like a rock. Also, the value of YP digital ads is relatively much less than competitor ads (like Yelp , Facebook, or Google AdWords). Don’t blindly let your contract renew! Contact your account manager well before the renewal date and ask the hard questions. Most likely you can negotiate lower rates; if not, cancel non-value added add-on services, or set a plan to cancel all-together. This could save your business $1000’s a month!!
9. YP Profits are Sinking Like a Rock
Finally, based on financial results YP.com have been slumping for a while and are not getting any better. YP’s free cash flow dropped 74% (over $200M) in 2014!! As a result, YP is trying to grab as many new clients as possible, and cutting costs where possible (including reducing the distribution reach of print ads), and pressuring existing clients to renew. This makes one wonder, where will they get more money to survive?
So, before you sign a contract with YP.com or other listing company make sure you read the fine print of your contract. Do your homework and ask the tough questions. If you are already in a contract with YP.com then you might want to rethink your investment before your next contract renewal. But don’t take my word for it. Ask other business owners what their experience has been with YP.com.
Also, check out my FREE eBook on Internet Marketing (below)! This eBook will teach you how and where you can invest in digital marketing to start getting more visitors, leads, and customers today.