Pay or Not to Pay?
most important area for yellow pages analysis is the cost of the ads themselves.
Unfortunately, such analysis is made extremely difficult, not only by the
complexity of the yellow pages in a local, let alone a national market,
but also by the hidden pitfalls and traps which have been set up to snare
the unsuspecting yellow page advertiser.
Spending: Return on Investment
is not always the way to keep up with the big guy! This is the essence
of guerilla marketing in the Yellow Pages.
decide that the best way to place their advertising is by looking at the
competitor. That can be a very dangerous game. Think about it… there’s
only so much money to be made in a particular market.
on a large display ad just to “keep up with the Jones's” is not always
the answer. After spending that money on the ad, you have to generate
enough business to cover that cost.
We already talked about the
complexity of the yellow pages (National Campaigns),
and pricing is no exception. What you may not realize, however, is
that the special deals and come-ons offered by the yellow page publishers
can rapidly lead you, the advertiser, into a Hobson’s choice, where you
have no good alternatives.
For example, let's say you
are advertising in a major market with a half page display ad.
Your yellow page representative
comes to you with a great offer… “increase your ad size to a full-page
and you'll only pay a small additional price for the increase in the first
What's wrong with freebies?
Well, it depends on the current
configuration of the yellow pages in question. lf you have a publisher
who guarantees your position based on the number of years that you have
run a particular size ad, which is the usual practice, you risk losing
your place in line when you change ad size.
let's consider the XYZ Company who has run a half-page ad in Milwaukee
for 10 years. Three competitors have half-page ads of more recent
vintage and place behind XYZ in that category of the yellow page listings.
If XYZ now moves to a full-page ad, but later decides to move back to a
half-page ad, the company loses its position and its competitors will be
placed ahead of XYZ.
There are lots of other pitfalls
on the pricing “deals” offered by your sales representative. We at
Yellow Page Blues would be anxious to hear about (email
us) your own experience in this area, or to discuss the pros and cons
of special deals that may be offered to you.
Special deals are not the
end of the story of yellow pages pricing. That's just the beginning.
Price changes from year to year can make a great buy in an existing directory
Everyone has their pet peeve
about pricing in the yellow pages. Some might say that the worst
abuse is the small incremental charges on monthly bills are misleading;
they can add up to extraordinary sums. For example, a dollar or two
for an extra line in a listing may seem nominal, but if you list in 100
directories, that extra line is costing you nearly $2000 per year.
For those of us at yelllowpageblues,
based on an informal polling of the staff, our choice for "worst abuse"
is that of hidden charges.
These hidden charges
can mount up to hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars
in a national yellow page campaign. Just one example may suffice to illustrate
this type of charge. Did you know that if you place advertising through
Certified Marketing Representatives (CMRs) you
may be paying more than you should?
Many publishers hit you with
a hidden surcharge of between 3 and 6 percent of your advertising budget.
To make matters worse, most
CMRs quietly pass these charges on to you, the advertiser, they don't even
let you know about these extra costs without even letting you know.
For example, Qwest has a
surcharge of 6 percent. Therefore, if you wanted a Half Page ad in
the Denver, Colorado directory, you would be paying approximately $1,772
more than necessary (2000 prices).
That Make You Wonder?
The reason that this hidden
charge still exists is three fold:
· First, the
CMRs who are in many ways, at the mercy of the publishers, do not want
to alienate the owners of the directories.
· Second, the
CMRs don't want you, the advertiser in the yellow pages, to know that you
can save money by not using their service, placing advertising directly
through local representatives of the publishers.
although not a large amount of money, the CMR receives its normal commission
on the surcharge and thus has an economic incentive to collect the hidden
From the publisher's point
of view, they make more money if you go through the CMR and you pay the
surcharge, or else if you place directly with them since they don't have
to pay the commission of the CMR. They feel justified in charging
you more for the “privilege” of using a CMR.
After reading this, you may
wonder, “What is the value of a CMR?”
The short answer is “did
you ever try to deal with the publishers directly?” For the long answer
Other Yellow Page Pricing
The list of yellow page pricing
problems and abuses could go on for pages. Errors in billing, one-sided
contracts, arbitrary changes in the run of a book and year to year (almost)
automatic price increases, just to name a few.
peeve of yellow page blues is that there is no price differential allowed
for the different headings. Is a full-page ad under lawyers worth
the same as a full-page ad under restaurants or shoe repair?
The point is
that the yellow page advertiser is almost never considered in the price
set for yellow page ads. The Burden is on you to make it work and the tool
which lets you do this is Return on Investment (ROI).
page ad units