2 Lessons From This “Trash” I Found on My Doorstep

Found this sitting on my doorstep last week.

Yep, the Yellowbook.

Gettin’ pretty thin these days, isn’t it?

Bet you think this is a post about how the yellow pages are dead and why they shouldn’t even bother sending them out any more because online marketing is clearly the only type of marketing that matters these days.

Well, if you think that, you’re wrong!

Yes, my first thought when I saw it outside was “That’s going right in the recycling bin because I’m never going to use it.”

Well, it did and I won’t.


Not everyone who gets the Yellowbook will. Some people still do use the yellow pages to find local businesses.

So lesson #1 is this…

Just because something doesn’t float your boat, doesn’t mean it won’t appeal to others.

A lot of business owners make the mistake of basing their marketing around what they like and what resonates with them.

But that stuff doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is what appeals to your prospects.

  • If you do all your searching online but a decent percentage of your prospects still use the Yellow Pages, you’d better make sure they can find you when they look there.
  • Just because you don’t click on the AdWords ads when you do a search on Google, doesn’t mean your prospects ignore those ads too.

You may think people want to hear all about how wonderful your services are, but it’s really how your services solve THEIR problems that they want to know about.

So study your customers…put yourself in their shoes…know where they hang out…understand how they find (and make decisions about) business like yours.

Then base your marketing around where they hang out, their emotions, desires, decision making processes, etc….not yours.

Lesson #2 is about zigging when others are zagging.

Primarily being an online marketing strategist, I’m a big fan of online marketing. Every day I see the huge impact it can have on business.

And because so many people are online and so many businesses are having success online, a lot of companies are shifting most, if not all, of their marketing dollars to the Internet.

Makes total sense.

But this shift has created some voids in traditional advertising media like the yellow pages.

Yes, the Yellowbook I got on my doorstep is pretty thin and a lot of people will throw it out like I did, but the advertisers who are in there have much less competition than they did 5 – 10 years ago.

The ones who are sticking with it are now a bigger fish in an evaporating pond.

In fact, one of my clients recently bought $10,000s of dollars of Yellow Pages ads across the country and, ya know what? They’re actually getting his phone to ring and producing an ROI.

No, just having a basic ad with your business name and phone number likely won’t do much for you. But if you have an ad in the Yellow Pages that offers some benefits for contacting you and has a strong call-to-action, you can make it work.

Direct mail is another form of advertising that a lot of companies have given up on in recent years. However, if you talk with a lot of marketers who still use direct mail, they’ll tell you that it’s working better than ever.

In fact, direct mail is a key part of the marketing mix for a lot of the big online information marketers out there. Like their approach to online marketing, they test out different strategies and see what works. And direct mail, done right, works.

There’s less “junk mail’ being sent out these days so direct mail pieces (that are well designed and executed, of course) that do land in someone’s mailbox have less competition and are less likely to be immediately tossed in the trash.

Just because I tossed the Yellowbook in the trash and most of you probably do the same, doesn’t mean there isn’t any value there.

Depending on the type of business you’re in, it just may represent a golden opportunity you can take advantage of.