I was reading about the Sensis full year profit report for 2011 and one figure really stands out, and that is a fall of 15.8% in the print directory business. Why would profit drop by such a large number? That is nearly 1 in 6 customers cancelling their Yellow Pages ad. I can’t say for sure, but I have two pieces of information that may point to the reason.
Firstly, I don’t have a Yellow Pages. Well, that may not be true, but I can at least say I don’t know where it is. I think it got thrown out in the rubbish, but it may be kicking around in a cupboard somewhere. One thing is for certain and that is we don’t use the Yellow Pages. Not at work, not at home, not in the book, and not online. Not me, not my wife, not anyone at work and no one at home. If none of us are using the book, then the people paying all that money for the advertising probably aren’t getting much of a result.
Secondly, we used to advertise in the Yellow Pages. We advertised a lot. Our budget creeped up to just under $20,000. We used to get an OK result. Not great, but enough to justify a $20,000 Yellow Pages spend. Then it seemed to dry up. Our rep went with all of the usual excuses and reasons to keep an ad. I was sceptical but agreed to a trial. We got a new phone line and had the new number listed. The true horror of the situation gradually revealed itself. The phone didn’t ring. Ever. I checked the number to ensure we had the right number in the book. We did, it was just that no one was calling. That was the last year we advertised in the Yellow Pages.
For Restaurants and Take Aways that are relying on Yellow Pages to market their business, this is bad news. Your business will have a couple of ‘natural’ marketing techniques working for it. Firstly there is walk and drive by traffic. These people wander by and think “I would like to eat in there.” Of course you do everything you can to attract these people, your menu is prominently displayed, the outside looks clean and inviting, you may have a special offer. Secondly, there are repeat customers. They’ve been once and thought your restaurant was great and they keep coming back. (Hopefully you are rewarding or at least recognising them) Lastly, there is word of mouth. You may encourage that by giving coupons to your regulars to hand out to their friends with a discount or it may just happen.
These days however, relying on the natural marketing strategies is often not enough. You are competing against other restaurants, other activities and cheese on toast at home. You need every strategy you can use. These include your website, email marketing, database marketing, testimonials, Facebook, Twitter and mobile phones. Luckily, there is something that encompasses all of these strategies,www.marketing4restaurants.com. If you haven’t already sign up, you are only a couple of days away from starting your brand new marketing campaign.