Is Yellow Pages Listing Worth It?

First of all, this article is about the Malaysian Yellow Pages service provided by TM Berhad. Furthermore, this article is Malaysia-centric, and thus probably will not apply to Yellow Pages in your country (or whatever the service is known as). Chronicled below are my experience, the experience of those I know, and whatever stated are just my opinion.

First of all, Yellow Pages is a globally-known brand, heck, it’s so embedded in modern culture, that it has its own dictionary entry. But how relevant is the Yellow Pages in these days of the Internet? It has a lot to do with what you’re looking for in the first place. As an aside, have you ever wondered about the history of the Yellow Pages?

Before the age of the Internet, the telephone is the undisputed king of remote interactive communication. You pick up the phone, dial a number and get connected to the other party. The telephone is an especially important tool for businesses everywhere. Getting in touch with a customer is simply a matter of pushing a few digits on the device and waiting for the call to connect. The one potential problem that needs resolving is how to let your customers know that they can initiate contact with you as well.

Traditional forms of advertisement on billboards, print and broadcast media integrated the advertiser’s telephone number as a method of getting in touch. This method has proven to work very well with printed media as compared to broadcasts. This is because printed materials are more permanent and the potential customer. I believe that this is one of the motivations behind the invention of the Yellow Pages. Heck, it really is a good publication to get your hands on when you’re looking for some specific product or service.

However, the Internet has virtually killed the Yellow Pages. And why is this so? Let’s make an observation on the advantages the Internet has over the Yellow Pages:

  • It’s “virtual” and has no bulk.
  • It’s “real time”.
  • It’s easier to access.
  • It’s much more interactive (you can read reviews from multiple sites, and submit your own).
  • It has excellent search and indexing tools (like search engines).
  • It’s global.
  • And many more…

But surely, the Yellow Pages should have a few weapons up its sleeve, right? Let’s see what they are:

  • It’s targetted (usually by specific regions of a country).
  • It’s organised and quite easy to navigate. Everything is in one place.
  • It’s a hard copy.
  • Err… it’s strikingly yellow.
  • And they have they’re online version as well.

The company I currently worked in is in what I’d called a niche market. Sure, we have the tuition service, which is our continuous source of income… but our big money contracts are for the corporate training service we provide. In this business, almost all our customers are from “word of mouth” promotion. Either, another customer’s words, or the words of the trainer in our free preview seminars.

We experimented with Yellow Pages placement for a few years, and sad to say, it failed tremendously. Absolutely zero of our customers found us through the Yellow Pages. However, if you think that the reason our Yellow Pages listing didn’t work for us because we’re in a niche market, think again. That’s not the motive of this article.

We know of a friend who is really in a niche market. He constructs swimming pools. And for him, the Yellow Pages is an awesome source of new business. Almost all of his clients found out about his services through the Yellow Pages!

Come to think of it, there really is a “secret formula” to work out whether a Yellow Pages placement might work for you. It all boils down to common sense. Here’s my theory on the type of business that would benefit from a Yellow Pages placement:

  • Your product or service is specialised, to an extent.
  • It’s hard to get word of mouth promotion for your product or service, probably because the decision maker wouldn’t be anywhere near your product, or is not really accessable to most potential customers.
  • Your product or service requires stringent privacy protection (eg. private eye, mortgage consultancy, debt refinancing, escort service, etc.)
  • It’s taboo to talk about your product or service (eg. coffins or funeral parlours).

Have you got anything to share about your Yellow Pages experience? Looked for a particular product or service high and low, and finally found it on the Yellow Pages? Or do you think that the Yellow Pages is dead… or probably overrated. I’d definitely love to hear your opinion.