If you’re the type of retail business that must or should be in the yellow pages or other phone directory, your ad needs to be actionoriented. People don’t browse these books; they use them when they are ready to take some action (buying or serious shopping). To create action, your ad should use words such as free, fast, specialists, fully stocked, big selection, delivery, open late, and so on.
Look at your closest competitors’ ads and select a size similar to theirs. These ads can be very expensive, so don’t overdo it—but you also need to be large enough to compete. A well-written medium or even small-size ad can draw customers without you going over your budget.
Be sure to select the correct category or categories where your ad will be found easily. Use some type of graphic or illustration to catch people’s attention. If you’re placing a display ad, there should be a directory rep assigned to your area to help with design. In most cities, the monthly fee is added to your phone bill, so you have to keep payments current.
Your prospects will probably take one quick look at your ad in their search, so make it the best you can. Once people decide on another company or store, they probably won’t be looking in the same category for a while.
You can make an offer in your phonebook ad, but if it’s a discount, remember that you’ll have to use it until the next book comes out, which is usually in a year. Rather than have the customer clip out your ad, use a code number for the offer, and you’ll be able to keep track of the response.
The yellow pages are also gaining ground online, and people are using them from their computers and phones. Be sure to have some presence there. Keep track of where new customers are coming from and spend your ad dollars where you’re getting the most response. Don’t let pushy salespeople for these services talk you into something if it’s not working.