The Phone Book Is Dead

For many years, one of the most effective ways for small businesses to get their name out there was advertising in the phone book. Prospective customers would simply look you up by name or industry and unquestionably give you a call. It was common sense to pay an annual fee to put your name in every household in the area. In today's digital world, this is no longer practical.


Phone Books Ongoing Distribution

Roughly 70% of Americans do not even use their phone book one time. So, why do millions of people still receive phone books? Some states actually require their distribution to this day as a "public service". Those states that do not require distribution typically have an opt-out program in place which many people are unaware of. Several cities have tried to ban their distribution as the amount of waste produced is widely criticized. An industry group sued and obtained a court ruling that required the phone book distribution to continue.

In addition to their requirement, many businesses are still paying phone book companies to advertise for them, thus prolonging their inevitable demise. Maybe some businesses are truly making a profit from advertising in phone books?

Let's say the cost of an annual Yellow Pages ad campaign is $3000, and a small business values a customer at $50. If 10% of Yellow Pages' sales leads become customers, that business would need 600 sales leads to break even. Without making a profit, more than eleven phone calls would be needed every week solely from the Yellow Pages.

Advertising is very different now. While many people still receive phone books, they are no longer the first resource that people rely on. According to several recent studies, about 80% of people who are seeking a product or service turn to the internet first. As a result, search engine optimization (SEO) and digital marketing are the dominant ways to advertise.

How SEO and Digital Marketing are Superior

For business-to-customer (B2C) businesses, an advertisement in the phone book will not reach potential customers that are visiting or new to the area. With digital marketing, a business can advertise based on location thus reaching all potential customers.

Digital marketing and SEO also allow businesses to see the effectiveness of their advertising efforts. A website can track how customers or other businesses found them, how many pages were visited on their website by each user, the visitor's demographics, and so much more. Dependent on that information, businesses can add or change website content to consistently increase website traffic.

One of the biggest disadvantages of the phone book is a business can only fill a single advertisement with information that will last an entire year. Companies can give much more information to prospective customers and clients on their website. SEO marketing targets audiences with great written content and there is no limit. Better yet, a business can pay for a much cheaper online advertisement, make sure it only hits their target market, and make changes whenever needed.

Phone books might still be in use today, but they are not evolving. For a business to grow, their marketing tactics must grow and they must advertise where customers are most likely to be.

Give us a call if learning more about digital marketing and SEO interests you, or you would like someone else to take care of it so you can focus on your business. We help new and developed businesses with this every single day.

References: The Phone Book Is Dead, 1st in SEO; Should You Still Advertise in the Phone Book, Marketing Darcy


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