Why I threw my Local Directory straight out with the trash this week

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Today I ceremoniously placed my brand new 2008/09 Local Directory (equivalent local version of The Yellow Pages) into my wheelie bin (trash can/rubbish) much to my father-in-laws horror. Damn it felt good!

It had already sat for two weeks, unopened, on my door step previous to my outlandish action and it felt good to finally dispose of the rain-sodden thing (though I do pity the poor person who had to lug the things around and deliver them facing rabid dogs, over-curious kids and lonely grannies like I once did as a Girl Guide many moons ago).

But I truly believe my ‘First Ever Dumping of The Local Directory’ is quite justified. As I explained to my father-in-law (aged 60 +) as he followed me to the bin stating reasons why I should reconsider (‘but you might need to look something up!’) anything I need to find out now days I can find out online.

I mean literally, if I need a doctor, a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker, they’re all bound to be online. And to be really blunt (and perhaps even risking offending some who haven’t quite their heads around the power of the internet yet) if they’re not online, with a website that gives me the information I need about them (and hopefully the ability to interact with them i.e. make an appointment, place an order, make an inquiry), I don’t really want to deal with them. Harsh but true.

You see given my age I fall right on the Generation X/Y cusp. Some of my traits tend to be more Gen X in nature – others more Y. I think my ceremonious dumping of the Local Directory is definitely displaying qualities of a true Gen Y.

Quite simply I can’t be bothered with a big heavy thick and ugly designed book (yes aesthetics are all important when it comes to Y’s view of the world) taking up valuable space in my home. I mean where would I put the thing? There’s the few kitchen drawers, but they’re overflowing already with utensils, cutlery, plastic bags and tea towels.

There’s the pantry, but that’s full of food, large size trays, cook books and more, and we have cordless phones and there is no real ‘possie’ where I have the luxury of gas-bagging for hours on the phone to family or mates who live inter-state or internationally. If I want to speak to them, I dial them up on Skype or web cam them through Facebook.

I can’t be bothered with the ‘letting my fingers do the walking’, I might get the person if I call them or I might not. Phone tag is not a game I enjoy (and I know I can be extremely difficult at times to ‘tag’ back).

And, quite simply, I know I can get the same information (and oh so much more!) from specific internet searches. Even better, I control the search, so I can get nice and relevant results coming up in priority order, not just some local cowboy company who happened to take out a full page in this year’s Yellow Pages or Local Directory. I’m all into supporting local by the way, I just don’t think the Local Directory or Yellow Pages is the only way to connect with the locals to do business with.

I know for sure that I’m not alone when it comes to the pendulum swing that is finally happening in regards to both Yellow Page and Local Directory advertising spend.

On average I do 3-5 paid consults a week with people who are seeking sometimes general and sometimes specific marketing advice. Usually the question of the allocation of marketing budgets comes up. The topic of whether Yellow Pages is worth spending the money has been coming up more and more frequently, I’d say just about every consult.

As the saying goes ‘you can lead a horse to water but you can’t teach it how to drink’ and that’s definitely a principle I try and live by when I meet with prospective or existing marketing consult clients. Rather than outright say ‘it’s a waste of money’ (because for a rare few it does work satisfactorily) I let them come to their own conclusions by asking them a few key questions about where their leads and sales are currently coming from, where they have come from previously, what spend they have made to acquire those leads and sales and whether there has been any movement there.

What I’m hearing is that all of them are experiencing a significant decline in the number of leads (if any) they are getting via the Local Directory or Yellow Pages and all are more than ready to re-allocate that spend elsewhere (which is great news for my company and any one else in the game looking to assist them spend their money wisely J). Many of them are particularly interested in re-allocating it to the online medium.

And this isn’t just with a specific industry or size company I’m talking about. This goes for companies of all shapes and sizes (in recent times a beauty salon, a tile cleaning company and a gym).

The clever ones who are actually tracking their leads on a weekly or monthly basis (I strongly encourage you to do this if you are not already) can see that the figures don’t lie – if they compare their spend with their return, it becomes very simple to work out which promotional/advertising/marketing activities are working and which are not.

Despite these figures, I’ve seen clients see the figures, understand the figures but still not be prepared to give up the Yellow Pages or Local Directory spending just yet. Because WHAT IF THEY MISS OUT ON SOME CUSTOMERS? I’ll answer that question with a question: ‘How many more customers could you have if you tried some new marketing mediums?’

I personally as a company do not feature in the Local Directory or Yellow Pages at all (and if I do, it’s a free listing that some body else has organized for me). I don’t mind divulging however that I have been tempted.

They’re slick sales people after all, and they play on all the usual feelings associated with fear to get you to feel like you would be mad not to throw some money at them. They make you believe that you could not possibly survive as a business without featuring in their ‘book’. I do totally understand how convincing they can be.

But as a marketing professional I would like to challenge you today by getting you to ask yourself two REALLY important questions when it comes to your Local Directory or Yellow Pages marketing whether you’re doing it now or are considering doing it in the future:

1) Do you track the leads/sales you are getting from their marketing mediums (both the online and the offline version if you feature in both) right down to the dollar and the cent?
2) Have you sat down and worked out your cost per lead and your cost per sale generated from these mediums, and others to see which ones are providing the most leads and/or sales for the lowest cost? Could you make it a priority to do so?

The Christmas break is a great time to do this sort of analysis on your company’s marketing spend so you can look to make any changes you think are required in the New Year. Crunch your numbers and if you’re feeling really brave, choose to dispose of your copy (perhaps you could even use them for a bon fire, Christmas paper or otherwise – let me know your innovative disposal methods).

Trust me, it feels great!

Yvette Adams is the director of the Creative Collective, a creative services company based in Queensland, Australia offering the full range of creative services including PR, awards applications, websites, internet marketing, seo, graphic design, print production, photography and more. They won the 2008 Queensland Small Business Champions Specialised Small Business award and Yvette won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year and has been a finalist in numerous other local, state, national and international business awards. For more info see: https://thecreativecollective.com.au

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