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Advertising Success

Julie Manning Comments

Advertising Success
Keys to getting the most out of the Yellow Pages

By Julie Manning

There’s no question the Yellow Pages is an effective advertising medium. Nearly every home and business in America has at least one of these big books.When consumers don’t know where to buy a product or service, they first reach for their Yellow Pages. When they thumb through, you want to make sure their finger lands on your ad, not your competitor’s. There are several keys to unlocking Yellow Pages success to ensure your ad will stand out.

More Bang for Your Buck

There are more than 6,200 Yellow Pages directories in the United States. Which will get you the most bang for your advertising buck in your region? To find out, you may want to enlist a certified marketing representative (CMR) for some unbiased help. A CMR (there are approximately 200 in the United States) is an agency independent from any other general advertising agency or publisher, and can give you impartial advice and recommendations when placing your Yellow Pages advertising.

Why stop at print Yellow Pages? An increasingly popular advertising location is the Internet. Internet Yellow Pages sites such as and provide your business an online presence to complement your existing print Yellow Pages advertising program.

Where Are You Headed?

Once you’ve established which print directories are right for your business, give careful consideration to the headings under which your ad should fall. Where would a consumer likely go to find you or one of your competitors in the Yellow Pages? A more quantifiable way of determining which headings to use would be to ask an agency for the most referenced headings in your industry.

One counter-intuitive option would be to feature your ad in a heading in a related category. This is known as a “brand sell.” For example, Smith & Son Overhead Door Co. could conceivably advertise under the hardware retail category since consumers looking for doors may also be searching for tools and hardware.

Choose a Location

Once you choose a directory and headings, you need to consider where your ad is placed. Location matters. A recent ARC Research study concluded an ad near the beginning of a heading typically generates more calls than an ad of the same size placed farther back. How many advertisers fall under your heading will help determine where to locate your ad.

Seniority and Size

Yellow Pages advertising is based on a grid system that offers everything from double-truck display ads to a BL (bold listing). Ad size works in direct relation to ad positioning within a heading. For instance, did you know display ads are first arranged according to size, with large ads placed closest to the beginning of the heading? Within display ads of the same size, publishers arrange ads by seniority according to the initial date the ad was sold. Keep in mind when you reduce your ad size, you lose your senior status and positioning.

Get Creative

You want your ad to set you apart from the competition. Ad flow, design, copy and color can be used to magnify your image and increase calls to your place of business.

Within the ad flow, the “headline” should be at the top. Often, companies make the mistake of placing the company’s name or logo at the top, making it the headline. Headlines should clearly state the benefits you offer over that of your competition. For example, “The Least Expensive Roses in Town!” is better than “Rose Florist.”

Short and simple copy is more effective. Your ad should serve as a call to action. Cluttered ads with too much information will likely turn off a prospect from learning about your business. Break up text with different sizes and styles of fonts. Avoid words in all caps, which tend to be too busy and unpleasant to the eye.

Pictures or graphics really are worth a thousand words. If you sell doors, make sure there’s a picture of a door in your ad. Color can also enhance your ad and capture a reader’s attention. The entire text of the ad can be in color, or use “spot color” in areas you wish to highlight. There are also some unique coloring techniques you can employ, such as “white knock-out,” where the background is white instead of yellow. If you have a website, be sure to include the address in the ad. Remember, the goal is to grab the reader’s attention. Take time when designing your ad. Above all, be creative.

Julie Manning is the national marketing manger for TMP Worldwide Directional Marketing, a division of Monster Worldwide Inc. TMP is a Yellow Pages advertising agency with more than 1,700 clients in the Asia Pacific Rim, Europe and North America. For more information on Yellow Pages advertising programs, visit; e-mail

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