The #1 Most Common Goof Businesses Make With Their Yellow Pages Display Ads

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The #1 Most Common Goof Businesses Make With Their Yellow Pages Display Ads

By: Bob Jeffery

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. But, when it comes to yellow page display ads, you better know who you're imitating and why!

A yellow page ad is supposed to do one primary thing: get people to call your business. If it's a really good ad, it should get people to mentally discount competitor ads and favor yours. If a particular business wants to garner the lion's share of all prospects, then why imitate the format of all the other ads? More importantly, why imitate an image-style format?

Let's look at an example of an image-style format. The name says it all. "Image" is everything (and maybe the only thing, for lack of anything better to say). Coca-Cola has an image. IBM has an image. So does Citi Bank.

These Fortune 500 Companies also have enormous advertising budgets that would dwarf annual revenues of most individual businesses. They're the big players. Having massive distribution networks and established prominence, their products and services are virtually everywhere.

They can afford continuing, expensive image ads simply because of their immense size and the marketing inertia they've developed over multiple decades.

Is it any wonder that their brand name stands alone on a billboard? Not that a billboard ad of this type will generate commensurate revenue. It's just part of the overall brand- building strategy. That strategy says this: If the name is out in public often enough, long enough, and in a large enough way, people will develop some kind of awareness.

And, in the future, people will consider doing business with the company when the product or service need becomes necessary. It's a "feel good", "hope you'll think of us" awareness philosophy.

If you're a small to medium-sized business, you don't need "awareness". You need leads and sales. You need ACTION. Open your yellow pages phone book. Look under any major listing category and take notice of the headlines in the display ads. The majority of headlines are simply the name of the company - - - Ajax Roofing, John's Carpet Cleaning, Green Thumb Tree Service. The company name is the bold headline.

Is there anything intrinsically compelling about the words "Ajax Roofing"? Does the company name as a headline provide any hint of decision-facilitating information?

If not, have you seen Ajax Roofing signs and ads on every street corner and heard constant and ongoing Ajax radio and TV commercials over the course of 20, 40, or 60 years? Of course not. Then why imitate the mass market saturation methods of brand builder image advertisers by using your company name as your ad's headline?

Instead, your headline needs to snap prospects out of their "conscious-sleep mental state". It should be something that truly interrupts the attention of your prospect. It must tap into your prospect's emotional hot buttons that deals with their problems, frustrations, and annoyances.

As a headline in a display ad, "The Five Biggest Problems When Buying A Fence" is much more appealing than "Fred's Fencing." If I were in the market for a new fence, I'd certainly like to know what those five problems are.

I would want to educate myself as much as possible before I commit. I would want to avoid making a mistake. I would want to make an informed choice and get the right fence that suits my situation.

I really don't care what the name of the company is. I just want to know about the five biggest problems. And, because this ad is the only one that addresses some of the burning issues when buying a fence, I'll call this ad first, and perhaps solely.

Make your yellow pages ad headline functional. Interrupt the attention of your prospect. There are a number of ways to do this as discussed in the MYM On Demand Program.

However, knowing what you now know, you're already well on your way to a more effective ad when you avoid imitating your competitors and image advertisers - - - when you avoid using your company name as the headline.

Get a FREE Headline Category Template for your business. This provides you with 15 different theme categories for crafting your headline message. Simply email your request to

Good luck with your marketing efforts!

Bob Jeffery

Principal Marketing Consultant

MYM On Demand Marketing Training

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Copyright 2004

About The Author

Bob Jeffery, the author, teaches business owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals how to acheive bigger, bottom line results from their advertising & marketing efforts without spending more time, effort, or money. Learn marketing strategies and tactics to separate yourself from your competition and become the obvious choice to do business with. To learn more about how to improve your own Marketing Efforts and Achieve Better Results, visit:



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