I get calls every week from lawyers saying they’re not getting calls anymore from yellow page advertising. Having done quite well in the past, they’re afraid to discontinue the advertising. They want to know what’s going on and what to do.
Apparently, lawyers are not the only ones. In his article “Quit wasting money on Yellow Page advertising” by Peter Fernandez, D.C., a yellow page, print advertising and practice management consultant for chiropractors, Dr. Fernandez answers the question, “Why has advertising in the Yellow Pages changed from one of the best ways to advertise to one of the worst in just a few years?” (See 1, below)
This article will attempt to explain where all the calls went. I believe lawyers began advertising in the Yellow Pages much earlier than on TV because of the cost; most lawyers were reluctant to become pioneers of TV advertising; and lawyers were pursued by yellow page salespeople, but not by TV salespeople. Since 1976 through the mid-1980s, the Yellow Pages and classified newspaper ads were virtually the only place a potential client could find a lawyer advertising. Consequently, lawyers advertising in the Yellow Pages did not have much competition and had very good results.
Many more lawyers flocked to the Yellow Pages which then became very crowded. In the last few years, and after a few pioneers, many of the lawyers advertising in the Yellow Pages discovered what every other business has long known, that TV is by far both the most effective and cost-effective media. According to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, from January 2004 through September 2004 lawyers have spent $287.3 million on TV compared with only $71.3 million on print media, $11.4 million on radio and $4.1 million on Internet advertising. According to research done by the Television Bureau of Advertising, the public’s perception of television gets the votes for Most Authoritative and Most Exciting. Both influential and persuasive, TV wins over other media, in both categories, by a wide margin among Adults 18+. TV scores 81.8% in the Most Influential category, with newspapers a distant second at 8.5%. Yellow Pages Scraper with newspapers, again a distant second at 14.2%.
Just as buying something wholesale or in large quantities, your cost per person reached from advertising is reduced when you buy media that reaches more people. Broadcast TV reaches many times more people than a county-wide yellow page book and therefore costs much less per person reached. In the New York DMA (broadcast TV market), there are 29 counties reached by TV. If there was only one yellow page book in each county, you would have to advertise in 29 yellow page books to reach the same geographic area as TV. Unfortunately, there are several yellow page books in each county. Smaller community yellow page books produce even less of a return on investment because they reach even fewer people. Many lawyers have found out that for the cost of a full-page advertisement in just two county-wide yellow page books, you can advertise on TV with a respectable budget and reach the population of an entire DMA.