They call me “Mr. Yellow Pages”
Posted On March 31, 2022
Maybe it’s because I had mono during college and I still look a little yellow sometimes. Or because I worked for the Yellow Pages for 25 years as a sales consultant. I think it’s probably because I wrote an insider’s guide as a “behind the scenes” look at the directory publishing industry, which is now the only one in print and available on Amazon. But for some reason, I’ve become the voice of the Yellow Pages. With this great responsibility that has been given to me, I decided to write a series of articles like this one, which gives advice and suggestions to those of you who have considered placing advertisements in this interesting medium. First, a history lesson.
In case you didn’t know, the Yellow Pages have been around for more than 120 years, from their innocuous beginnings in Wyoming as a small brochure for local advertising. The first time the term “Yellow Pages” was used was in 1883. It happened when a printing company, working on a regular phone book, ran out of white paper and used yellow paper instead. That simple act started a legacy.
In 1886, Reuben H. Donnelly produced the first official Yellow Pages directory of business names and phone numbers, classified by types of products and services they provided. fascinating, right? Let’s move on to the book as a medium in today’s world.
For starters, the biggest drawback to placing an ad in the Yellow Pages is the long wait time and time on the shelf. Let me explain. Most YP books are published at least six weeks after the ad is placed. So if you wrote an ad towards the end of the application and tested it, which might take two weeks, it wouldn’t come out for another six weeks. And since delivery could take another four weeks, that’s three months. And suppose you were forced to remove one of your brands listed in the ad, you couldn’t change the ad for another year. Those are the few downsides. But I prefer to focus on the main advantage. It is the book itself.
More than just another medium like television or the newspaper, the Yellow Pages are a reference manual. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve arrived in a new city and found myself checking the local yellow pages in my hotel room looking for a restaurant. Try to do that with any other means. Or use it for maps, local attractions or an airport shuttle. Remember, it’s a book. It sits there on the side table, ready when you are. You can look at the ads or the listings, if you just need a phone number. As I mentioned, it usually has the main local city attractions, including seating maps for sports stadiums, directions to museums and zoos, and their prices and hours. What an amazing book, it’s completely free to use and automatically updated every year.
When I was in Barcelona, Spain, it was in my hotel room. And in Mexico and Canada, and in the London phone booth. It is a worldwide phenomenon that, like quantum physics, transcends time and space. Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but that’s why they call me Mr. Yellow Pages. But you get the point. That’s why, for local small businesses, it’s an invaluable way to reach their customers. I never made excuses for our seemingly high prices. I simply explained that it was based on usage, which was higher than any other item available on the market. In other words, more people would see your ad or message in the Yellow Pages than anywhere else, at any price. It was the place where people went when they needed something, especially the emergency services. In that regard, he reigned supreme. No one threw away the old directory until the new one arrived.