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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistWed, Sep 11, 2013 6 min read

Yellow Page Advertising--Is That An Inbound Marketing Tactic?

Inbound Marketing Yellow Page AdThe short answer is: no. But as I mentioned yesterday, this week is dedicated to techniques used to convert traditional outbound advertising into lead generating inbound marketing programs.

A few days ago, one of our clients asked us to design his ½ page Yellow Pages advertisement. Of course, we tried to talk him out of the ad buy, but he is in a traditional business and felt strongly that his prospects still turn to the Yellow Pages.

On a side note, I did get to tell him that I am always excited to get my Yellow Pages at home because I have two alternative uses for the book. My first and favorite use is as a hot plate. It does wonders when we have a hot dish and we don’t want to put it on our table directly. The book elevates the dish and proves a perfectly secure resting place for it.

My next favorite alternative use is to build up my recycling points. In my neighborhood, we have a program called Recycle Bank. Each week, when the recycling guys come around to pick up our bin, the truck actually weighs the recycled material and we earn points toward CVS, Starbucks, Walmart and other retailer gift cards. The Yellow Pages is amazing because it’s the perfect paper type and weighs a ton, so tossing that book right into the bin is guaranteed to give us a dollar or two towards Starbucks.

But I digress...

There are a number of ways to turn a basic advertisement into one that has a few inbound marketing elements in it.

Idea 1 – Add additional offers. Even though people are using the Yellow Pages to find things, they might not be exactly ready to buy from your business at that specific time. By adding a No Risk Offer to your add and by creating a dedicated landing page—you will know exactly how many people visited that page, how many people downloaded your offer and how many people reached out to you to request service. Now your advertising is much more quantitative, measurable and when it comes time to renew the ad, you can make a more educated decision.

Idea 2 – Make sure the ad has all the elements we (human beings) need to make a good purchase decision. Your ad has to include more than just your logo, what services you provide and your phone number. As human beings we process information related to buying in a very particular order. First, we have to feel like you understand our pain.

Next, we have to be sure you are capable of satisfying that pain. After that we need to know that you do it in a special way. After all, there are plenty of other people who do what you do in the Yellow Pages, if I can't tell what makes you remarkable in just a few seconds, your ad isn’t going to be effective. Finally, I don’t have any reason to take you at your word, so make sure your ad has some testimonials from other people. Validation and verification is an important step in any purchase decision making process.

Idea 3 – Don’t make the ad look like all the other ads on the page and NO, paying for a color ad isn’t what I am talking about. Good marketing is about standing out. Make sure your ad looks different, sounds different and delivers your value proposition in a different way. While it might feel uncomfortable to you to be different, your prospects are looking for a reason to select you and your differentiation is what sets you apart.

While this isn’t an extra idea, it’s critical that you create a set of expectations and performance goals associated with the ad and the measure is really quite simple: Leads! How many leads do I expect to get from this ad? How many of those will be sales opportunities? How many of those do I expect to close? How much revenue will those ops generate? Will that revenue pay for ad plus the return I expect from the investment? Set these up in advance and hold your advertising accountable. If it doesn’t perform, please stop doing it.

Start Today Tip – The concept of holding your advertising accountable is great for business owners, CEOs or marketing professionals. While it might put some extra pressure on your team to create and select marketing tactics that actually work. The exercise of cutting those programs that aren’t living up to expectations is cathartic. The money you save cutting out wasteful and ineffective advertising can quickly and easily be funneled into inbound marketing tactics that impact your results immediately.

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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.