Confessions of a Yellow Pages User

Friday, February 17, 2012
Lynn Duffy

It’s true… I admit it. I have actually taken out those Yellow Pages that sit in my house, and have used them multiple times in the past few years. I know this is not a popular statement to make. In fact, it’s almost shameful. I mean, who uses the Yellow Pages anymore? Don’t they simply function to demonstrate feats of strength? For example, body builders ripping them in half. Or, perhaps, they are just the right fit to be a booster seat for my friend’s kid who came to visit. Hey, I’ve even seen them hold up a table or wedged under a chair to stop it from wobbling. While they may have a number of diverse uses 350 days of the year – there’s another 15 that they come in handy when looking and ready to buy.

Let me tell you about some of those times. Even admitting that I use the Yellow Pages – the funny thing is, I never start there. What do I mean by that? I am a serial Googler. I take pride in my Google-fu, and can find just about anything using the largest search engine. I can buy products from around the world with the click of a button most times. However, that all came to a crashing halt when I bought my first house.

I live in a medium sized market – just about 1M population in the Greater Metropolitan Area. I should be able to find services for my house online — think ‘pest control’, ‘carpet cleaning’, ‘tree removal’, and ‘landscaping’. It’s not that I ‘can’t’ find services like the aforementioned online. It’s that, I just know that there has to be a greater selection of businesses that provide this service than my browser is displaying. In each category mentioned above, I started my search online using Google. When I came to the conclusion that I was seeing far too limited a selection of businesses – I moved to the Internet Yellow Pages. A little more variety and selection appeared here, but I was still disappointed with my search results. There were some businesses I was looking for simply based on WOM (word of mouth), but I wasn’t finding them. Where were these businesses? I knew they existed…my friends had used them!

So, I picked up those Yellow Pages one day, and to my surprise – I found what I was looking for. A selection of businesses and content that spoke to where I was in the decision/hiring process. There were in fact, over six different businesses local to my side of town that did tree removal! Another four that did carpet cleaning, three landscaping candidates, and there was the pest control business my friend told me about. I had found the selection I was looking for, and started making phone calls.

So, do people still use the Yellow Pages? Well… I do, and have hired from the following business categories in the past four years of home ownership — tree removal, pest control, landscaping, carpet cleaning, air duct cleaning, and HVAC services. Do I use them for every purchase? The answer is ‘no’, but in all of the cases mentioned above, the best story was told by those printed Yellow Pages. The very same ones that sit around 350 days of the year and collect dust, but sure come in handy in certain situations.

Am I alone? Probably only in admitting my use – but if you take a closer look — you see the age old story of ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’. For all of these purchases, I have mixed media usage and consumption throughout the buying process, and that shouldn’t be discounted just because it’s not ‘cool’ to admit to using the Yellow Pages. Our 2011 Kantar study demonstrates that up to 51% of consumers still look to the Yellow Pages (PYP/IYP) 1st or 2nd when searching for a local business. There is still value in the medium.

The question remains — are you accessing that potential and value and maximizing it for your business? If the answer is no, we can help you media investment appropriately across the types of media driving value to your bottom line.

Contact us today to find out more!

Lynn Duffy, Sr. Research Manager