The Alarming Trend Your Yellow Page Rep is NOT Going to Tell You(And would probably prefer I didn’t either!)
It’s got to stop.
This long-standing tradition of plumbing contractors overspending in the Yellow Pages for rotten results has gone on too long. And – silly me – I have every reason to tell you to get lots of very large Yellow Page ads… since we design ads for contractors. But I can’t do that, especially not when I know this:
The Dismally Bad, No-Good News
Oh, let’s see, where to start… okay, has the YP rep been in lately? Sorry, I should’ve asked “How many have come from any of several different books?” You noticed that, too, huh? Well, it’s not your imagination. Recent figures show that an average of 5 new books are added in the U.S. every month!
Now let me guess, did they try to talk you into a bigger ad, with more colors in more sections? Did they possibly mention that if you “invested just a little bit more,” you’ll get the “free” web listing, and “if you’ll sign right here, we’ll give you this incredible rate” as long as you agree to do the same or more next year?
Two hints why this is happening: Hint #1: Reps work on commission, sometimes 100% commission. Hint #2: Unless you increase your annual expense with them, they probably don’t get a commission at all. Does this make them evil? No, but it does put them under immense pressure to make sure all your Yellow Page needs are filled, and then some.
A few more things you ought to know –
Another Alarming YP Secret…
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) just completed a study among tens of millions of Americans. Shockingly, the results have a Yellow Page link. No, they did NOT find out that YP Executives were playing poker with vermin (surprise!) but they did uncover this…
Until last year, the CDC assumed – unless indicated to the contrary – that any telephone numbers provided on health surveys were landlines. The cell phone question was toward the end of the survey, where millions of survey participants never made it. (Can you blame them?)
Some genius decided to move the question closer to the front, and then nearly 100% of the participants included this info. They discovered that 1 in 6 American homes had only wireless telephones, representing more than 32 million adults, or 15.8% of the U.S. population. This is a near 60% jump from the earlier “guesstimate” of 10%. Oops.
You see, if they don’t have land lines, they don’t have published numbers, and as such, don’t get Yellow Page books. And that means they’re not seeing your Yellow Page ad.
This “missing chunk” of your town’s population which the Yellow Pages contends are “Yellow Page shoppers” aren’t because they can’t be.
Bottom Line: The once dominant shopping spot of a single Yellow Pages print edition will not return. Yellow Page advertising will remain a portion of a wise contractor’s marketing budget, yet many contractors continue to pour money down a Yellow drain as if nothing had changed.
Well, some things haven’t.
The “Old Way” is Not Working So Don’t Blame Me
Plumbers continue to spend piles of money in this declining media, with the same rehashed ads, and wonder why leads are drying up. Quit wondering, and start taking a good look at your ads.
They’re supposed to stand out to get noticed, right? Well, how’s that going to happen when you’re using one designed or “approved” by the same people who sold and designed an ad for every one of your competitors who are all hunkered up in the same section?
We critique about 1200 Yellow Page ads a year for contractors. (We’ll critique yours too, but I hope you’re not sensitive!) Nearly 90% of them fail in one or more of the 5 Response Triggers we’ve identified. A shocking 31% fail in all 5 critical response areas. Is yours one of them? Find out.
How to Create A Yellow Page Ads that Doubles Your Leads
1. Headline – Grab your reader’s eyeballs, right now, and tell them an immediate gain or benefit in a distinctive way. (Look at your competitor’s ads for ways not to do it, thus guaranteeing your distinction.)
2. Solve their Problems. That means built, fixed, replaced, or upgraded in the most painless way (I did NOT say cheapest). And you’ll do this by showing lots of…
3. “Reasons Why” Copy. These are generally lined up as specific bullet points showing how you “know” their problem(s) including what they’d rather avoid by choosing poorly. No finger pointing, only how you’re different. This often includes…
4. Risk Reversals. Boldly state your guarantees, the stronger the better. These are your most powerful weapons to reduce call resistance. Your competition thinks it’s done with starbursts or saying, “For all your plumbing needs.” It’s not. Put your prospect at ease to call and you’ll get more calls. To make sure, wrap your ad up with a solid…
5. Call to action. You think you can just plop your phone number in the ad and hope they’ll call you? No way. To drive leads, you tell them what to do and that means to call - now if not sooner - to solve their problem. We generally put the phone number in the bottom right.
Lastly, don’t spend a bunch of time choosing cute cartoon clip art, or wondering if your bullets should be red or blue. Those are filler details. The above list is your ‘gold’ list, so spend most of the time on those, with about half of that time spent on the headline alone. We have ads where a headline change alone resulted in a 45% lead increase.
Three Graphical Elements that do increase Yellow Page leads:
By the way, the above list does not include your building, your trucks, or your cocker spaniel. Unless you’re selling them, I’d leave them out of the ad.
I can tell you what else will or won’t work for your ad. Simply fax or email us a copy with your request. (We do not give critiques on the phone.) I’ll also send you a bit longer report on exactly which type headlines work best plus how to keep your customers out of the Yellow Pages (!) but the publishers prefer that I don’t put that in a magazine.
Is anyone out there yelling, “I hate my Yellow Page ad AND the price I’m paying for it!” I understand. That’s why we’re offering a free Yellow Page ad critique and a Yellow Page report this month. Just fax your old ad to 1-334-262-1115.
Adams Hudson is president of Hudson Ink, a marketing firm for contractors, and is speaking at the first ever “Contractor Sales and Marketing SuperSummit”, October 14-16 in Atlanta. Go to www.hudsonink.com for more, and to grab Adams’ free ezine. P&M readers can also request other free reports and marketing help at 1-800-489-9099.
If toll-free lines are busy or you're local or you're trying to sell us something, call 1-334-262-1110. If your desire is to merely annoy someone, please call our competition.