“The new phone book’s here! The new phone book’s here!” So proclaims Steve Martin in the movie, The Jerk. His buddy, Harry, then marvels at getting exciting about nothing.
Yet, I can identify with Martin’s character. At one time I placed ads in the yellow pages — lots of them, about 90 books as I recall — anywhere from a bold listing to a half page display ad. When the phone books arrived, I would excitedly look at my ad. Did it appear as ordered? How did my competitor’s ad look? Did I end up as the most visually dominate ad on the page?
That was for a different company. Now I place no yellow page ads. That’s by choice. The people who need to find me don’t look in the yellow pages and the people who do look aren’t bonafide buyers of my services. I even go so far as to adamantly decline promotions for free listings; they just make the phone ring — for the wrong reasons.
So the phone book arrived today with little fan fare. I wouldn’t have given it any thought, except the new book seemed thinner. Here’s what I discovered:
- the residential section was 11 pages shorter — this is assumed because some homes are empty and others are dumping their land-line
- the business section shrunk by 13 pages — a 13% drop — this implies a net decrease in area businesses
- the yellow page section was 18 pages shorter — a 3% drop. That doesn’t bode well for the local economy, the yellow page vendor, or the outlook for printed yellow pages.
This decease in pages is something I suspect will continue. Marketing is moving away from yellow pages and directories are going on line. Interestingly, despite my overwhelming preference to do everything online, I still opt for the printed phone book and yellow pages.
Yeah, the new phone book’s here!