The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story titled, “Extinction Threatens Yellow-Pages Publishers” forecasting substantial declines for Yellow Pages print and online ad spending. It’s not surprising given the industry’s general failure to adapt from its print business model to the Web.
The Web provides people with an easy way to select a business from a search engine listing and then research that business with customer reviews — whether a contractor, a lawyer, a vet, a doctor, or anything else. YellowPages.com provides some information about listed businesses, but it does not provide good reputation (word-of-mouth) information. The Yellow Pages online advertising model is to list every business that will buy an ad — not just the best businesses. Since bad reviews would discourage businesses from continuing to list, the Yellow Pages doesn’t do much, if anything, to encourage reviews of listed businesses. When reviews are available, they are not done well. For example, I just checked reviews for Allied Van Lines in Charlottesville, VA, on YellowPages.com and saw reviews there for various Allied agents across the Country, not just the one in Charlottesville.
When I search online for a business, I jump immediately to the listings that promise reviews and I start reading them. Most Web users do the same thing. With Web-enabled phones, more people are searching for, researching, identifying, and calling selected businesses on one device within just a few minutes of starting the process. YellowPages.com doesn’t provide users with the information they need, so other sites like Citysearch, Yahoo Local, and Google Maps fill the void and do it well.
Of course there are other problems with the Yellow Pages like an unwieldy business classification system, a tendency to contain dated information, and clunky user interfaces online. If you’re a small business owner with a limited marketing budget, you may want to consider using only the free print and online Yellow Pages listing, building a decent website, and encouraging your customers to leave reviews at the many websites designed for that purpose.
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- Which Demographics Still Prefer the Yellow Pages? (clixto7.com)
- How to Opt out of Receiving the Yellow Pages (lockergnome.com)
- Photo Sums Up How We Feel About The Yellow Pages (gizmodo.com.au)
- The New Yellow Pages are Coming – You Can Opt Out of Future Deliveries (romickinoakley.wordpress.com)
- Yellow Page Advertising? Seriously? (roundpeg.biz)