I often conduct workshops for Yellow Pages advertisers at trade and professional conferences. A while back, an older gentleman came up to me before a session, carrying a phone book. Opening it to the ads in his heading, he tapped the directory with the back of his hand and said, “This rascal doesn’t really work, does it.” It wasn’t a question.
“This rascal?” I asked.“The phone book,” he explained. “The blasted Yellow Pages.”
I nodded. “You see all those ads,” I said, “all those business advertising under that heading? Well, guess, what? Some of them don’t have a clue how well or how poorly that directory is working for them.”
“They’re just there because everyone else is there,” he agreed.
“But there’s a reason everyone else is there. The sharper the businessperson, the greater the feel they have for what’s generating their business. Some of these people are tracking their advertising so well they can tell you to the penny how much their Yellow Pages ads are bringing in. And that’s the reason they’re in that directory year after year after year: not because they like giving money to the directory publishers, but because it makes them money. In fact studies show the average Yellow Pages advertiser nets $4 for every dollar he spends in the phone book.”
“So the rascal does work?”
“It does work: often in spite of the way advertisers put their Yellow Pages ads together. And, as a matter of fact. RASCIL, r-a-s-c-i-l, is a great acronym to keep in mind to help make your ads work even better.”
Reliability: Many people who see your ad in the Yellow Pages have never heard of you before. The greater the price of what you’re selling, the more important it is to stress reliable and quality in your ad.
Appropriate copy might include:
Authorized products and services: Thousands of dollars are spent promoting brand names. Hitchhike on that money by highlighting brand names you’re authorized to sell, service or repair.
Special Features: What separates you from the competition? The first question I ask a Yellow Pages advertiser is, “Why should someone call you instead of one of those other ads?” Often that gets me a blank stare, but eventually they come up with three to five things, the most important reasons why someone should do business with them instead of the competition.
The single most amazing discovered I’ve made in 20 years of working with Yellow Pages advertisers is that those three to five points are almost never in their Yellow Pages ads. Sometimes only one or two are missing. Often all five are.
Why should someone call your ad instead of one of your competitors’?
Completeness of service: Yellow Pages readers are drawn to ads that offer exactly what they’re seeking as well as by ads the offer a full range of relevant products and services. Include anything that’s a significant part of your business or you think can become a significant part of your business.
Appropriate copy might include:
Illustrations. The single easiest way to improve a mediocre ad is with a great illustration. If your picture isn’t worth a thousand words, find one that is. And make it large enough to generate the additional visibility your ad needs.
Location. Many people use the Yellow Pages to find a convenient address. And some former customers will only remember where you are not who you are. Make sure you’re easy to find. If necessary, include a line of directional copy: “Behind McDonald’s.” If your location is more complicated than that, consider including a map. As for your phone number, make sure it’s large enough so that no matter when potential customers decide they’ve read enough of your great selling copy and they’re ready to call, they can spot it immediately.
This RASCIL works. And RASCIL can help your Yellow Pages ad work more powerfully than ever before.
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