Yellow Pages Is Alive and Well!

Since so many opinions these days seem to be based on anecdotal evidence, let me add another anecdote to the mix.

I am sitting in a coffee shop near where I live doing e-mail and so on. In walks a very stylish young woman, no older than 30. She gets a coffee, sits down and pulls out a Dex companion print Yellow Pages directory and begins flipping through it to make calls arranging some sort of project for her house.

So there you have it, print Yellow Pages is alive and well. No further evidence is required.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. tory

    Not possible. She must be a loser 30 year old without an Apple airbook and wireless connectivity to the Internet. On the other hand, she must doing well if she already has a house unlike most no older than 30 crowds who ares till living with Mom and Dad or in a 300 sq feet studio apartment in a very upscale area. Of course, they have no need for Print yellowpages.

  2. scoop

    I sold yellow pages for 5+ years and was rather successful (promotions, trips, etc). I left about 3 months ago because I saw the
    direction the industry is headed. The internet products will give them a little added revenue but IYP are not the go to mediums
    shoppers use for search and the SEO/SEM stuff just does not work very well (not my words, my former customers). And none of it
    will make up what they will lose in print. I’m not trying to throw the industry under a bus, in fact I feel bad for some of the
    people still there who feel trapped. The notion that the yp are alive and well is simply wishful thinking.

  3. rickz

    Not possible? AGREED. Just arrived from planet LOSER? AGREED. And even if she was online…what does Dex know? NOT MUCH. Let’s check in with her tomorrow or…um…maybe next week when she’s still fumbling and bumbling through all the irrelevant, outdated and incomplete listings (online or in the nifty book) along with all the obnoxious banner and tricky text ads that some sophisticated algorithm has determined she r-e-a-l-l-y needs to see AND click on to help with her house project! Sorry…I think mucho further evidence is required.

  4. Ken Clark

    Those of you that disagree that such a real event could happen need to get out from behind your electronic gismos/PC screens/mobile whatevers and go talk to some small businesses in the real world. Let them tell you how the PRINT yellow pages is what makes the phone ring and generates business, not a bunch of clicks.

    And I still challenge any of you to do a print book look up vs. an online search to find products and services that the average person needs. The book is far quicker, doesn’t require any special connections, is fully mobile, and gives me some sense of a businesses viability based on the size of their ad (as subjective as that may be). An online search gives me what??? A list of somethings that I still need to plow through to find what I’m looking for.

    Scoop — sorry to hear you quit. I’ve got plenty of clients with reps making over $150k/yr selling just print, so maybe it’s not your cup of tea???

  5. Charles Laughlin

    Thanks for the comments. While the anecdote is very real, my purpose was not to declare Yellow Pages alive and well (Alive? Absolutely. Well? Eh.) I was trying to poke gentle fun at those who over-interpret anecdotal evidence (and you know who you are). Perhaps not all of you got that.

    Look, for every 10 anecdotes along the lines of “I saw a stack of unused Yellow Pages in the lobby of my neighbor’s building” there has to be at least a couple like the one I cite. I spend a lot of time looking at this business and not through rose colored glasses. What I saw today simply was just a tangible reminder that there are still people using the product, and they don’t all drive Fleetwoods and need reading glasses. It’s not all about what you do, or what your neighbor does or what the young woman in the coffee shop does. It’s about what millions of people do, and you need data, not anecdotes, to find the answer to that question.

  6. scoop

    I’m a forward thinker. So, your right it must not have been my cup of tea. However, I still comunicate with people in the
    industry and with changes to comp plans the days of big pay checks selling print will be over by years end

  7. rickz

    I don’t think there is “any” chance the print books are going away. Ever. They are too valuable to those that need to find something fairly quickly and most likely are ready to buy. I guess the rub for me and what’s really kinda squishy is how a user – print, online or otherwise, chooses one business over another.

    Is the business with the biggest ad the best? Sure you learn more compared to a free listing but are that business’ products and services more expensive because they have to pay for the big, informative ad every month? How about their customer service? Is bigger better? And their satisfied or unsatisfied customers…what do they think?

    Or which plumber is the best? Biggest ad? Or maybe the closest so the trip charge will be lower? What if I make the wrong choice? Certainly millions have found the help they need from a reputable SMB in the book. How many millions have made the wrong choice because they just didn’t have enough information?

    The problem with print for the SMB has been and always will be – you can’t tell any story with a free listing and it’s difficult to tell a meaningful story with a display ad that won’t have a shot at breaking the bank. Imagine what the book would look like if all the ads were even an eighth of a page. Paper and ink’s expensive and not likely to get cheaper any time soon. And it all has to fit in one book.

    The power of online is it’s ridiculously easy to provide the tools 1) to allow the SMB to tell their story and 2) to help them understand what story to tell. (Scoop, no disrespect to you or anyone else but my local YP rep is not the first person I think about asking for professional, -unbiased- marketing advice.) And the most compelling aspect of online: bytes ARE cheap and getter cheaper every day.

    People go online today and will go online tomorrow because 1) they need to know more and 2) they can’t get what they need offline. Unfortunately, a big problem right now is what you find online is print all dressed up in a polyester online suit at the dance of bajillions. Online is being sold, or given away, much the way AOL sold their wares back in the late 90s. The whole world is here – you gotta be here too. Only those that couldn’t fog a mirror weren’t interested. If it’s true that less than 50% of SMBs have a Web site today, we know the easiest way to sell online.

    Online’s not going away and hardly anyone uses their computer or smartphone as a door stop. The IYP will be mind blowingly effective for the advertiser AND the consumer – when the IYP stops hitting the online snooze button.

  8. Ash

    Calling someone a Loser for using the Yellow Pages? WOW!! Now I have heard everything!! I work for a company that sells PYP, IYP & Search and by far the PYP sales are still what pay the bills around here.

  9. Laurence Hooper

    Heh — funny post. OK, I absolutely plead guilty on the anecdote front, but the thing about data is that it can’t tell you how quickly a market will change. Famous last words, but I think the PYP market faces a discontinuity in the next 12-18 months.

  10. Andy S.

    Great anecdote! What stands out to me is that she pulled out a “companion” directory. This actually supports the notion that people are tending to do more business on-the-go these days. Companion directories (or other small sized directories) are a great way to keep PYP in front of these on-the-goers – We would not have hear the version of this story were the young lady walked into a coffee shop and pulled a 1,400 page, seven pound regional directory out of her purse.

    Print is here for a while. Sure, electronic is making an impact by taking ad dollars and users from print. But all you doomsayers really need to be more realistic in your prognostications about print being gone in 12 months. It will take a leap in perpetual mobile connectivity and idiot-proof mobile apllications to kill the YP’s. Eventually, but not yet.

  11. marc

    People use the internet to do research without having the hassle of speaking to a sales person. People use the phone book to do research on who they can TALK to to make a PURCHASE. If you were a business owner which customer would you rather have?

  12. Lindsay-Lohan

    hmm.. usefull info 🙂

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