Hitting the target

Feature Story

Knowing your audience and competitors is a must when creating a Yellow Pages ad

By Bob Blagg

In many cases, the Yellow Pages are the basic foundation of an advertising campaign, offering many businesses an excellent opportunity for a quick sale. Do you know that nobody reads the Yellow Pages for fun? People look at the Yellow Pages with one thing in mind: to spend money. And this can be serious investment for your business. What an excellent way to reach a consumer right at their point of interest. Remember the last time you looked up a business in the Yellow Pages? Odds are you were looking to fork over some cash for a product or service. There’s no doubt that for just about any retail business, the Yellow Pages are a must have. The Yellow Pages are an efficient and effective way to get your business’ name to the consumer, especially when they are ready to make a buying decision.

Yellow Page advertising is one of the most popular forms of advertising in the country today. Almost every home in America (96.9 percent) and business has at least one copy of ‘the book.” Almost three out of five (58 percent) of all adults say they check the Yellow Pages for a phone number and/or address at least once per week, with 77 percent using the book monthly.

It has been said that ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” In many instances, the first impression you make on consumers is with your Yellow Pages ad. In their eyes, the image portrayed in the ad literally represents the company as a whole. For this reason, professionalism and quality of design are vital aspects of the ad that cannot be treated lightly or handled carelessly.

Remember, with Yellow Page advertising you are at a much different point in the sales process: the close. Do you know that your Yellow Pages ad will be competing for attention with five or 10 or 20 other ads all offering essentially the same thing? The first piece of copy that readers see, the headline, has to be powerful enough to drag them away from those other ads and get them reading yours. You know that most Yellow Pages are cluttered in appearance. If you don’t want your ad to get lost in this mess, make sure that it is large enough to stand out. Keep your ad simple with large, bold print and clean, sharp lines. A logo and your phone number should be prominent.

After determining the appropriate categories to be listed under, decide on the content of the ad itself. While there are many different aspects to consider when designing ads, indisputably one of the most important is the headline. It must grab people’s attention and also succinctly tell them what your company does. In other words, you need a headline that will clearly position your business while setting it apart from the competition.

Yellow Page advertising talks about the importance of a strong headline. A powerful headline that grabs attention and engages a reader is pure gold in directory advertising and gives even more impact to your headline, while building trust in otherwise skeptical prospects.

Illustration is another important design aspect, and could have a profound effect on the number of responses your ad generates. Most importantly, the illustration must be relevant. Depending on its execution, the illustration can be as important as the headline. Therefore, it is advised you bring in a professional to design the ad, whether suggested by your Yellow Pages representative or selected on your own. Either way the quality of the illustration and the overall professionalism of the ad will benefit.

The copy, or text, must be organized in a way that is easy to read and provides all the information consumers want to know about your company. Store hours, location, types of credit cards accepted and a map, if necessary, are all-important ingredients. First and foremost, you must tell consumers exactly what services or products you sell. If that is not clear, they may assume you don’t have what they’re looking for and call a competitor whose ad specifies that the company offers that particular function or carries that particular product.

You can include a simple map in your Yellow Pages ad with key landmarks around your business. This will help wary customers feel more confident about where they are traveling and in which neighborhood you are located.

In order to know what your customers want it helps to picture yourself as the caller when you’re constructing your ad.

What you could tell them in the ad that would make them call you?
And when they do call, how will the call be answered: in person, by a machine, by an answering service?
Will the caller get the answer to their question or will they get frustrated, hang up and call someone else?Consider these caller reactions before you do anything else. It sets the tone of your ad.

When choosing the size of your ad, bear in mind that display ads appear according to size within each section of the yellow pages. The largest ads appear first. You probably won’t choose to run a full-page ad, but remember that you want to make your display ad as large as or larger than your competitors’ ads.

Carefully crafting a Yellow Page advertising strategy can reap big benefits for your business. The Yellow Page ads have to be written for action in order to pay for itself. So just start by asking yourself what you want people to do when they see your ad. It should be obvious: Pick up the phone and call you.

Happy advertising!

Bob Blagg’s HVAC Profit Secrets Institute has helped more than 963 HVAC contractors skyrocket their profits. He has been in the HVAC Industry for 30-plus years. If you would like to contact him, you can either visit his Web site at www.hvacprofitsecrets.com or e-mail him at bob@hvacprofitsecrets.com.

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