We’re getting to that time of year again when a decision has to be made about what to do with your local phone book advertising. Unfortunately, because the phone book is published annually, business owners have to make this decision for an entire year in the future…months before the book is ever published. That can make planning difficult, especially when you can’t predict economic downturns like the one that happened in October 2008, just as many new phone books were hitting driveways and doorsteps across the country. So what should you do with your phone book ad this year? Think about the following before you renew:

  • 47% of users reported they used the Internet above any other source to find information about local businesses, according to The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project.
  • There are numerous reports and surveys that suggest for many business types, phone book advertising is no longer providing a large volume of leads.
  • Internet advertising is more flexible and can potentially outperform phone book advertising if done correctly.

Here is some quick math to think about.

How much are you paying per lead?

If you are paying $1,000 per month for a larger phone book ad and getting only 10 calls per month, you are paying $100 per lead. Even very competitive search engine pay-per-click costs don’t approach $100/click. Many local search engine campaigns average less than $5/lead. If your cost per lead in the phone book is reasonable, then keep it, even if it isn’t generating lots of leads. If not, consider cutting back on your phone book ad costs.

Options for changing your Phone Book Advertising Plan.

  1. Cut back the size of your ad for a year and see if it makes a difference in lead generation. Don’t worry about losing your position in the book. If your competitors are paying attention they’ll be reaching the same conclusions you do, if they haven’t already.
  2. Go from full color to spot color or no color. You can calculate whether this has the potential to pay off by re-calculating your cost/lead if the number of leads you get stays the same as last year, or declines a bit.
  3. Dump the display ad entirely. Try a bigger “box” listings in the directory, which grabs attention in a different way than display ads.

How to spend the savings?

We suggest you take any savings from cutting back your phone book ad and roll it directly into Internet advertising. Search engine ads will help bring in those customers that you’ve been missing. Setting up your own campaign and managing it requires a lot more work than signing a new contract with the phone directory company, but you don’t have to do it yourself. Hiring a professional manager handle your Internet advertising campaign will make it simple and improve your results.

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