They Call Me "Mr. Yellow Pages"

Maybe it’s because I got mononucleosis during college and nevertheless look a little yellow at times. Or because I worked for the Yellow Pages for 25 years as a sales consultant. I think it’s probably because I wrote an insider’s guide book as a “behind-the-scenes” look at the directory publishing industry which is now currently the only one in print and obtainable at Amazon. But, for at all event reason, I’ve become the voice of the Yellow Pages. With that awesome responsibility bestowed upon me, I decided to write a series of articles like this one, that gives tips and suggestions to those of you who have considered placing ads in this interesting media. First, a history lesson.

In case you weren’t aware, the Yellow Pages have been around for over 120 years, since their not harmful beginnings in Wyoming as a small pamphlet meant for local advertising. The very first time the term “Yellow Pages” was used was back in 1883. It occurred when a printer, working on a regular telephone directory, ran out of white paper and used yellow paper instead. That simple act began a legacy.

In 1886, Reuben H. Donnelly produced the first official Yellow Pages directory featuring business names and phone numbers, categorized by the types of products and the sets they provided. Fascinating, right? Let’s move on to the book as a medium in today’s world.

To begin with, the biggest drawback to placing an ad in the Yellow Pages is the long lag time and the time on the shelf. Let me explain. Most YP books publish at the minimum six weeks after the ad is placed. So, if you drew up an ad toward the end of the solicitation and had it proofed, which could take two weeks, it wouldn’t come out for another six weeks. And because it could take another four weeks for delivery, that’s three months. And suppose that you were forced to drop one of your brands listed in the ad, you couldn’t change the ad for another year. Those are the few disadvantages. But I would rather concentrate on the main advantage. It’s the book itself.

More than just another media like TV or newspaper, the Yellow Pages is a reference manual. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve arrived in a new town and found myself going by the local Yellow Pages in the hotel room looking for a restaurant. Try doing that with any other media. Or use it for the maps, local attractions, or an airport shuttle service. Remember, it’s a book. It sits there on the end table, ready when you are. You can look at the ads or the listings, if you just need a phone number. Like I mentioned, it usually has the main attractions of the local town including seating charts for the sports arenas, directions to the museums and zoos and their prices and times. What an amazing book and it’s totally free to use and automatically updated every year.

When I was in Barcelona, Spain, it was in my hotel room. And in Mexico and Canada, and in the London phone booth. It’s a world-wide occurrence that, like quantum physics transcends time and space. Okay, maybe I am being a bit emotional, but that’s why they call me Mr. Yellow Pages. But you get the point. That’s the reason that for the small, locally-owned business, it’s an highly useful way to reach their customers. I never made excuses for our seemingly high prices. I simply explained that it was based on usage, which was greater than any other item obtainable in the marketplace. In other words, more people would see their ad or message in the Yellow Pages than anywhere else, for any price. It was the place people went when they needed something, especially emergency sets. In that aspect, it reigned supreme. No one ever threw out the old directory until the new one arrived.

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