- Comments: 7
- Written on: April 17th, 2011
A couple years ago I wrote a post about how to get the best possible deal from your Yellow Pages sales representative.
As the Internet gains more and more influence at the expense of the Yellow Pages, I thought it would be a good idea to revise my old post with the latest and greatest strategies to maximize your Yellow Pages investment.
Go Yellow, Go Web, or Both?
Before the days of the Internet and Google people turned to the yellow pages when a service provider was not top-of-mind. Over the past 10 years use of the yellow pages has been declining as people using laptops, smart phones and computers have turned to online searches for real-time directions, reviews, and pricing – things the Yellow Pages can never offer.
As a general rule (that is becoming less and less applicable after each passing day) there is a generational gap between people who use the Yellow Pages and people who use the Internet when they are looking for a business. Generally speaking, people 40 and younger will turn to the Internet first for information while those over the age of 40 tend to look toward the yellow pages instead.
As a general rule if your target customer is under the age of 40 your advertising dollars might be better spent on a digital medium such as Google or Facebook ads.
Likewise, if your target demographic is over 40 years of age the Yellow Pages can still bring new customers through the door, although the book’s days of dominance are in their sunset years.
Three Ways to Get the Most From the Yellow Pages
If you decide to add the yellow pages to your marketing mix, there are three iron-clad tips you need to know before you sign on the dotted line.
1. Use Your Sales Representative
In some cases your Yellow Pages sales representative is a regional traveler that you will never see again who is only interested in the immediate sale. If your sales representative is a temporary transplant, don’t plan on a lasting relationship.
On the other hand, Yellow Page companies like Dex are beginning to realize that their sales representatives need deeper relationships with individual business owners to maximize annual sales results.
If you are lucky enough to have a local rep, they are probably one person in an office of three or four people. This is an ideal situation for the small business owner. In a small office, a sales representative can negotiate special deals, arrange bonuses and genuinely look out for the best interest of your business.
For example, I recently signed a contract with my DEX sales representative, (Joy Brummer) for my computer repair service center in Omaha, NE. We purchased a full-page advertisement that ensures we will be placed at the very beginning of the computer section of the book.
Joy and I really hit it off. We met a second time for lunch, traded stories about our industries & clients, and Joy really got to know what makes Schrock Innovations’ business engine tick.
Joy felt Dex’s online tools would really benefit our business, but I wasn’t terribly interested. We already dominate the Google search results in Omaha, we will soon have the most prominent advertisement in the phone book. After talking about it for a bit she made me an offer I could not refuse.
She was so convinced that the Dex online product was right for us that she offered us $900 per month of free advertising in DEX’s online yellow pages listings. She said if we like the results, buy it next year. Now that is faith in your product!
It pays to be nice to your sales representative. If you have a local rep, don’t start off your conversation like you are hard-ball negotiating at Kris’ Used Car Sales.
Your gruff and domineering attitude will deeply offend your sales rep. Sales people have a stable of incentives and bonuses they can offer – or withhold – at their discretion.
If you act like a jerk who needs an anger management class she will not give you any of the bonuses she can – even the ones she pays for like a gift card to the local Indian restaurant.
2. Ask for First Time Advertiser Status – Even if you are not one
Yellow pages representatives usually have 2 fee structures. One is designed for new advertisers and the other is designed for repeat customers. Repeat customers actually get charged more, so you want the same rate schedule the new guy gets whenever possible.
Yellow Page sales representatives typically can’t lower the pricing structure unless they are against the deadline with unsold inventory. However, in some cases that can adjust which rate schedule you are given.
For example, Schrock Innovations has been in Omaha, NE since 2003 and we did have a yellow page ad in 2004. Technically we were not a new customer. However, because of the great relationship I have with Joy, she was able to convince her sales manager to give us first time advertiser status.
3. Pay your bills on time.
When you do not pay your Yellow Pages invoices on time it creates a massive obstacle for your sales representative.
“Deadbeat” businesses (those who pay 90-days or more late) and businesses who consistently show they are having trouble paying for their obligations don’t get the best deals from their ales representatives.
Why would a sales manager give a sweetheart deal to a business who is already showing they can’t meet their obligations?
Asking your sales rep to go to her manager for a special deal when you are behind in your payments is asking her to do the impossible.
The bottom line is that playing hardball works when you have a regional representative who doesn’t care about you or your business.
If you are lucky enough to have a local sales representative in a small office treat her with respect. If you don’t you not only poison the well with her, but you also poison the whole sales office. Local people talk, and a local sales office is a breeding ground for “you won’t believe this guy” kind of stories. If you treat one rep badly, getting anything from anyone is the office will be a challenge.