Even with today’s technology, it’s nearly impossible to construct a persuasive, phone-ringing Yellow Pages advertisement in under 30 minutes. Where did I get thirty minutes from? In 1975, my first gig was designing Yellow Page ads for a large national Yellow Pages publisher. I considered it my “dream job.” Our tight-knit group of creatives would dole out dozens of Yellow Page ads per day, every day. We did our best to make each ad a selling masterpiece BUT we did have a daily quota of 10-15 ads to contend with…Arrange time for breaks, paperwork, etc. and that rate works out to about 30 minutes per ad.
OK, so it takes more than 30 minutes, but why worry about Yellow Page ads?
Even as “online local search” continues to grow at a rapid clip, today’s print Yellow Page directories represent a not-too-shabby $14 billion a year industry, and has morphed into a broader medium that includes BOTH print and online capabilities. In fact, directional media (Yellow Pages, online local search and classified advertising) is expected to top $119 billion by 2010. For all of this, print Yellow Pages are still what they have always been, a very effective means of generating telephone calls and revenue from your most important local prospects.
So if the Yellow Pages designers can’t always produce great ads, who can?
My two year stint working for a Yellow Pages publisher taught me a great deal about ad design and Yellow Pages advertising. But despite a promotion to Art Director status, I soon left the Yellow Pages to start my own graphic design company…
After twenty years of running a successful design studio and servicing Fortune 500 members, the corporate advertising world had become stale and left me underwhelmed. I decided to re-visit the Yellow Pages industry and created a niche service that, at the time, practically didn’t exist: “The Yellow Page Ad Design Specialist.” By improving the message and visual impact in my clients’ Yellow Page ads, I was able to unleash the incredible potential of the medium. Over the last decade, my clients and I have enjoyed phenomenal success, and my niche market has spawned many competitors.
How can you outmaneuver and outsell your Yellow Page competitors?
While designing phenomenal Yellow Page ads takes more than a few tips – it takes real design talent, advertising experience, and expertise in the dynamics of Yellow Page advertising – the very best guidelines for Do-It-Yourselfers can be found in “Effective Yellow Pages Advertising for Lawyers” written by the late Kerry Randall. It was written for attorneys but its’ principles apply to any business appearing in the Yellow Pages. After exhaustive analysis, Kerry determined that nearly all effective, call-generating Yellow Page ads include six key elements. He taught that all high-performance Yellow Page ads should contain:
Strong headlines that command attention and engage readers
A laser-sharp focus; a willingness to ignore most readers
Arresting, eye-captivating illustrations or photographs
Clearly identifiable differences ( from competitive advertisers)
Relevant copy (text) that covers less than 50% of the ad space
Professional-looking, clutter-free layouts
I’ve developed and been preaching very similar principles to my Yellow Page clients for a decade so I wasn’t overly surprised when Mr. Randall emailed me kudos for our Yellow Page advertising efforts. Kerry’s recent passing was a big loss for the industry but he left behind a sparkling gem of a book that will continue to help countless Yellow Page advertisers. Whether you’re determined to create your very own Yellow Page ad or looking to hire an independent designer, Kerry’s masterful dissertation is an invaluable guide.
And you’ll need a guide in picking out an effective designer. Remember, every industry has it’s share of sneaky imposters. It only takes about $20 a month to hang out your electronic shingle these days and some Yellow Page ad “professionals” lack even a formal advertising design background, let alone a solid, direct-response experience, or a successful track-record for their clients.
Scrutinize prospective designer’s Yellow Page ad samples in light of these 6 principles. Make sure that the ads clearly and honestly speak to the prospects’ emotional needs and effectively persuade prospects by presenting the very best solution to their specific problem. Also verify that the Yellow Page design specialist you choose has a solid direct-response background and a successful track-record for their clients.