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‘Tis the season for shopping and at times endless aggravation finding stores that actually have the items you want in stock. I’m all about anything that can help ease the stress of the shopping experience. And one thing I rediscovered as an essential shopping tool is the Yellow Pages (thanks to, of all things, a MySpace blog).

The thing that continues to make the Yellow Pages relevant and valuable in the lives of myself and others is that it helps at the end of the buying process. While this point was driven home in the recent TMP research (here and here), several recent shopping experiences gave the numbers and research findings real-life meaning. My wife and I are close to another family in our town of Kettering, Ohio. Their son, Sam, is a big fan of Wii and the game Guitar Legend. Needless to say, the latest version of this game is popular and hard to find. After going to a few stores only to find the game out of stock it dawned on me I should be using my trusty Yellow Pages directory. After going to the main game store heading and coming up empty, I branched out to department stores, electronic stores and toy stores that also carry video games and — bingo — I found one in stock and requested that the clerk hold the item.

Directory publisher marketing continues to focus primarily on the reoccurring theme of completeness in most advertising campaigns and I’m wondering why points like time savings, alternate ways of finding items, and the ability to call and hold an item aren’t being promoted to make the relevance of the product real to shoppers and in training people why print and Internet Yellow Pages products are useful in their lives. If people don’t know why they should use the Yellow Pages, will they actually use it? The answer seems obvious.

The Yellow Pages product is becoming more of a “find it vehicle” after people have done their research and are looking locally to find the product at the best price. What better time saving and stress reducing way to shop than at home on the phone to be sure the item you want is available, at a cost you want, and waiting for you at the store?

Taking a look at real-life shopping situations and promoting the time saving abilities afforded by using the Yellow Pages would be terrific campaign themes either for publishers or the Yellow Pages industry. Usage will only be supported by education and opening people’s eyes to the benefits of the product.

Perhaps personalizing the use of the Yellow Pages and educating people on benefits they might not think the product would offer would be great New Year’s resolutions for every directory publisher.

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