Stop Putting Your Money Into Phone Books and Start Putting It Into Search Engine Marketing

Phone book

Whether you’re a new company looking for business or you’re a well-established company looking to saturate your market, trying to figure out the best channels to advertise your business can be a hard decision. After all, investing money into a new form of advertising is going to be a financial risk no matter how long you’ve been in business. With the rising use of smartphones, apps, and search engines in the digital age, trust us when we say that advertising looks a whole lot different now than it did 20 years ago.

Remember when phone books were still a thing?

You could pretty much guarantee that every homeowner in your neighborhood had at least one, if not 5 (hey, they make great booster seats for kids!) Beyond word-of-mouth, phone books were one of the top ways a homeowner with a broken faucet, an ant infestation in their kitchen, or a lawn that desperately needed to be mowed could find a solution to their problem.

These things were so influential, in fact, that people would name their businesses things starting with “A” just to get as close to the front of the alphabetical listings as possible.

The advertising landscape today is vastly different than it was even two decades ago. People are more likely to carve amazing sculptures out of phone books than actually use them for their intended purpose. Now, the first place people go to find answers is their smart phones -- and then right on to Google.

Fun experiment: Ask a millennial if they’ve got a copy of the local phone book in their home right now and I can assure you, you will receive a resounding, “”

And yes, we know, people are tired of hearing about millennials. But the bottom line is, they’re your largest demographic, and their numbers are growing. In other words, times are a changin’, and as a business owner, you'd better be too.

Stop putting your advertising budget into outdated channels

As a 27-year old millennial living in one of the fastest growing technological cities in the country (shout out to Raleigh!), this seems like a given to me. But is it to everyone?

I have seen first-hand many companies that still utilize their local Yellow Pages book for advertising their business. I have to be honest, when I hear this, I can’t help but wonder what kind of return these business owners believe they’re getting on their investment.

Do most homeowners still have copies of the Yellow Pages in their homes? Is the reach even a quarter of what it used to be two decades ago? Can you even properly track leads and sales coming directly from the Yellow Pages? What does that ROI look like?

According to Forbes Magazine, Yellow Pages ads are expensive in comparison to modern advertising options like paid search and, in most cases, you have to commit to a full year of advertising. Studies also confirm that 80% of the time, consumers use the internet first when they need a new product or service.

Our advice? Ditch your Yellow Pages ad subscription and put that money towards what people are really using every day: search engines.

How can I advertise my business on search engines?

The greatest part about advertising your business on search engines is that these leads will be coming to you - rather than you having to go out of your way to get them. What does that mean? It means that in order for someone to even see your ad on a search engine like Google or Bing, it needs to be relevant to what they were searching at the time.

More traditional means of advertising like television, radio, and print ads are what we call “interruptive marketing” - they interrupt someone else’s flow of activity in order to get your message across. More importantly, that sort of marketing casts a wide net, where many of the people you’re paying to reach won’t have any need or interest in your product or service. While interruptive marketing can be good at promoting brand awareness, it isn’t the greatest at generating cost-effective, quality leads.

On the other hand, with search engine marketing, you aren’t interrupting anyone’s flow of activity. They are inherently more qualified because they already know they need your service and are looking for a company just like yours.

Think about it this way: That whole thing about naming your business “A-something” just to rank on the first page of the phone book? You’re no longer a slave to the alphabet! Instead, your ranking on search engines is determined by relevance to your customer. This provides a significantly better search experience for your customers, and also gives you a much greater measure of control over who you’re reaching with your ads.

So, what are the top ways we recommend you advertise your business on search engines?

Search engine optimization: This is optimizing your business’s website so that it appears on the first page of the organic search engine results page when users search for the services/products you provide. This can take time, depending on a number of factors. 

PPC advertising on search engines: This is a method of online advertising in which you advertise your business on search engines to drive traffic to your website, but you pay only when your ads are clicked. This is a great way to get in front of your target audience quickly, even if your organic ranking is still catching up. 

The benefits of advertising on search engines

According to Smart Insights, there are 6,586,013,574 searches a day worldwide. Over six billion people in the world are using search engines every single day to find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. Aside from the sheer amount of reach that is possible with advertising on a search engine, other benefits include:

Higher sales closing rates: Think about it - it’s significantly easier to sell to someone who’s already interested and looking for the services you provide.

You control the budget: For the most part, you can choose exactly how much you want to spend and determine a budget that makes the most sense for your business.

You can easily track performance: With Google Analytics and several other tracking platforms available, you can easily track the performance of your campaigns and invest your marketing dollars in what will bring the most ROI for your business.

Don’t isolate your target market

Sure, some people may still use a phone book for more than propping up an old table, but most people are using search engines instead. The moral of the story is by not advertising your business on search engines, you are going out of your way to isolate a large part of your target market.  And you know what they say about isolation: more isolation, fewer leads.

I may have just made that up. But you get the point.


Ready to make the switch? Check out Digital Marketing, our cost-effective system for generating quality leads online.