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The Secret to Yellow Pages Advertising Success


Published April 1, 2015

Three years ago we would have told you that the Yellow Pages was dead—heck we even wrote a post about it. But it turns out we were wrong, the Yellow Pages just might be the comeback kid of 2015!

A few months ago, a client in the apparel industry called us asking if we’d design him a Yellow Pages advertising campaign for his new accessory line. We assumed that this was a joke, but after a deep dive into his creative brief, we realized he was serious.

It turns out the CEO’s grandson had just taken an internship with a big Silicon Valley startup and they were about to unveil a viral, guerilla-style marketing campaign at SXSW using… the Yellow Pages. The CEO didn’t want to take any chances on missing the boat on this cutting-edge callback marketing tactic for his own accessories line, and this ad campaign was happening with or without our help. You don’t argue with an ascot king.

Campaign Details – The Ads

The campaign included four one-color, full-page ads that appeared in the men’s clothing section. Each page used storyscaping, leverage the power of the human imagination to feature a signature product—ties, socks, scarfs and ascots. Each ad encouraged the reader to call (on the phone, like, by talking to another person) and offered a 20% discount on their first order. If they ordered over $200 on their first purchase, they would receive a lifetime—or “LifeTIE”— discount of 10% for all future accessory purchases.

Campaign Details – Budget and ROI

Compared to the last time we ran a Yellow Pages ad, running full-page ads was surprisingly cheap. This was likely due to the fact that almost no one has been advertising in the Yellow Pages over the past decade or so. Our client only paid $10,000 for a three-month campaign. The results were literally amazing, blowing all of our KPIs out of the water. You might say the results knocked our socks off.

Over a three-month period, our client received a whopping 2,196 calls,
which led to 1,931 purchases totaling $162,559! 

Because of our Kaizen philosophy to providing continually-improving marketing solutions, we were able to pivot our focus and reimagine additional possibilities. We took advantage of these new customers and continued to build customer relationships online. In just two months, our client saw a 425% increase in Facebook fans, and an 875% increase in Twitter engagement. Their Yelp reviews also skyrocketed, raising their overall rating from a 3.5 to a 4.75.

In the world of the Google, how did this paper-based and phone call enhanced strategy work? And what are the key takeaways?

Why it worked

I’m not sure if you’ve seen the Yellow Pages lately, but it’s thinner than ever. Gone is the encyclopedia thickness, it now resembles the thickness of a fourth grader’s easy reader. A one-page ad in a 12-page booklet versus a one-page ad in a 500-page book? You do the math.

Unplugging isn’t a term for hipsters anymore; more and more people are unplugging on vacation, over the weekend or just simply in the bedroom. How are the unplugged looking up information? There’s no Google for the unplugged! Oh, wait—there is. It’s called the Yellow Pages.

“The Yellow Pages is really the non-digital version of inbound marketing. Let’s be honest, the synergy between businesses and the YP to help consumers find what they’re looking was the foundation of the Internet. This ad campaign has allowed us to re-contextualize and reimagine our approach to marketing by returning to our roots, returning to a time before the complex series of tubes that has become too overwhelming to navigate for the everyday marketer.”

– Chris Getman, Director of Inbound

Yellow Pages Tips for 2015

1. Your business doesn’t need to be named AAA ____ anymore, the Yellow Pages is so thin that you can take out a four-page spread and dominate the entire section from Cleaners to Tailor.Stop trying to outbid your competitors on Google AdWords, I doubt your competitors are even in the Yellow Pages anymore.

2. In the age of Apple, people are attracted to great design. Make sure you work with a professional, award-winning agency that works on Microsoft Publisher—or better yet, FrontPage.

3. Even though it’s the Yellow Pages, it’s still all about conversions and leads. Make sure you use a trackable phone number.

4. Be sure to include a scanned version of your printed YP ad on your social networks.

5. There are many more great resources on the web for taking advantage of the Yellow Pages game in 2015. We suggest starting here.

Take the next step

I know it’s only April, but we’re taking the leap and calling the Yellow Pages the biggest marketing game-changer of 2015. If you’re looking for a world-class, innovative ad campaign, contact us today by printing our contact page and faxing it to (603) 766-0401.


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