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Ask Haley: Are yellow page ads worth the investment?

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Q: My yellow page ads are up for renewal. Are they worth the investment?

A: Yes…and no. Let me explain…

In order to effectively market, you need three things:
– The right audience
– The right message
– The right medium
(direct mail, e-mail, newspaper, yellow pages, etc.)

To answer your initial question about whether yellow page advertising is effective, let’s analyze these three things and how they relate to yellow pages…

The Right Audience
Is the goal of your yellow page ad to recruit candidates or generate business leads?

If your goal is to recruit candidates, ask yourself whether or not the people using phone books to look for work are the right candidates for your company. If you are placing mid- or senior-level professionals, the phone book probably isn’t your best source for talent. However, if you’re recruiting to fill entry-level or industrial positions,
it may be a good recruiting tool.

If your goal is to generate business leads, again ask yourself if hiring managers who turn to the phone book to find a staffing vendor are right for your company. Companies who use a high volume of staffing services are bombarded with calls from staffing firms each day–they don’t have to turn to the phone book. On the other hand, companies that are uneducated about staffing services and haven’t used them in the past, may turn to the yellow pages. Are you looking for a high volume account, or several small users?

The Right Message
Once you determine your audience (and your goal), create a message that is engaging. How can you make finding a job or star employee easier? When are you available? What types of positions do you fill? Create a strong headline and use bullet points to streamline the amount of text in your ad. Your ad does not need to be the biggest, but it does have to be the most compelling.

The Right Medium
Are yellow pages the right medium for your firm? You have to consider the opportunity costs–are there more effective ways to invest those marketing dollars? If you could downsize your yellow page ad and trim $500/month, you could do some amazing things such as:

– Create a “knock your socks off” direct mail campaign. Each month you could spend up to $20 targeting each of the top 25 companies in your area (just think of the possibilities)!
– Reach out to thousands of clients and candidates each month with a monthly newsletter.
– Hold an amazing open house at your offices or a nearby restaurant to recruit top candidates.
– Invest in your website and/or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to attract more job seekers and HR professionals to your website. (And if you want to attract professional level and technical talent, a strong web presence is now a necessity.)

The Takeaway
For most staffing firms, I would not suggest pulling out of the yellow pages completely. However, I would suggest taking a close look at costs, and keeping track of leads/candidates that come in through the yellow pages. Are they quality leads/candidates? How much business was actually generated? How many candidates did you place on assignment?

If you keep a close eye on your cost and the results, the decision to renew your yellow page contract next year will be an easy one.

Let us know if you have additional questions.

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