For many businesses, an annual ad in the Yellow Pages or one of its competitors, can be a huge investment. If the ad works well, it can bring a in steady stream of new customers all year long.

But what if your ad just doesn’t pull in as much business as you need? Worse, what if it doesn’t even break even for you? Many businesses depend on the Yellow Pages for most of their sales for the year, so the risk of an underperforming ad is something to be reckoned with.

Here are a few ideas that should help you maximize this investment and generate the highest possible return throughout the year.

  1. Test your ad. How do you do this? In the months leading up to the deadline to place your Yellow Page ad, run several small or even classified ads in your local media. Test several headlines, run them against each other to see which one pulls the most. The winner gets to be your standard bearer all year long.

  2. Use your ad to generate leads by offering a free booklet or some other form of free information. Not only will this pull in a better response than your competitors, it will also build a list of interested prospects for you to send out future mailings.

  3. If you go the lead generation route, give your booklet an interesting title, like “31 Ways to Save Money on Car Repairs,” (for the auto repair shop). Or “19 Health Care Tips For Your Child” (for a pediatrician). Be sure this title is prominently displayed on your ad and make it the focus of your ad.

  4. Instead of one large ad that reads like a laundry list of all the services you offer, experiment with several smaller ads offering a single service. Law firms especially put up really boring Yellow Page ads that do little more than list all the specialties they practice. Unless your ad is the biggest, with the brightest colors, and is in the first page of your category, you will have a hard time getting a decent return on your investment for such an ad. But narrowly-targeted smaller ads give you a much better way of catching the eye of a specific group of clients who need a specific service.

  5. Piggy back on the narrowly-targeted smaller ads by offering more free information related to each specialty. Offering free booklets or newsletters positions you as an expert within your specialty.

  6. Now here’s my soapbox.. I have called on too many expensive Yellow Page ads only to be met with incompetent or rude people on the other end of the phone. Train your employees how to answer the phone, to return calls promptly and to have intelligent answers once a caller actually responds to your ad.

  7. Don’t just automatically run the same ad year after year. Your competitors aren’t going to just roll over and play dead. If you run a successful ad this year, you may just find a dozen imitators running very similar ads next year. Find ways to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack. Don’t claim to be the biggest, the best or the most experienced. None of that matters to your potential clients. Don’t try to fight it out among the other big fist in the pond, find your own pond and be the only fish in it.

  8. Write your ad to solve a really vexing problem your reader may be having. To use the law firm ads as an example again, if you specialize in juvenile criminal law, target your ad to the worried parent who has a child in trouble. Make your information piece about “what to do if your teenager is in trouble with the law.” People pick up the Yellow Pages because they have a problem. And they will call the ad that best demonstrates the ability to solve that problem.

  9. Be a specialist. Specialists make more money than generalists. So, if you can, let your ad show your specialty. But a category is not a specialist. (Using lawyers again) if you specialize in white-collar criminal law, don’t just say you practice criminal law. If you specialize in personal injury involving a reckless commercial vehicle, don’t just say personal injury. If you specialize in contract negotiations, don’t just say you practice business law.

  10. Your headline is the most important part of your ad. So don’t just run with the first thing that comes to mind. At the risk of repeating myself, test your headlines. Put your strongest benefit front and center in your headline. Address a problem in your headline. Make a promise in your headline. Headlines are too important to leave to chance. After all, do you want to live a whole year with a mistake?

Don't put up your ad blindly. Too many businesses put no thought into their ad, and then have to live with the results for an entire year.
freelance copywriter, writing web content, copywriting tips

COPYRIGHT(C)2006, Charles Brown. All rights reserved.


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