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Self-Storage Yellow Pages: Message Trumps Size

Sue Weinman Comments

In Yellow Pages, the idiom "location, location, location" has been replaced by "content, content, content."

The Yellow Pages industry performs studies to help determine the value of its advertising. These studies have never been as important to advertisers as they are now, with the Internet nipping at the heels of Yellow Pages print revenue and an unstable economy threatening everyone—businesses and consumers alike.

Lately I have been hearing advertisers in the self-storage industry complain that Yellow Pages is not delivering the business it has in the past; however, some industries are still catering to consumers who use the print directories. Here are some interesting statistics about the self-storage category in the Yellow Pages between 2003 and 2007 (’08 data is not in yet):

These statistics, from very credible third-party market research firms, don’t lie. Yellow Pages directories are still being used by huge numbers of consumers. So where is the disconnect? Part of it may stem from all the hype coming from high-profile people to small-town newspaper articles. Too many business owners believe a lot of this information without testing the value of their own advertising.

Savvy marketers are testing all their advertising avenues to ensure they are investing their ad dollars in programs that deliver results. The most reliable test is to buy a unique tracking phone number, which tracks every call resulting from a specific ad, to generate a report showing call time, date and duration. The calls can even be recorded so you can play them back to assess the quality of the lead and how it was handled.

If your ad is running in a directory with high-market share and large enough to give your prospective customer information about the property and amenities, the ad may still not deliver the return on investment you hope for or expect. Before pulling the ad, study it to see whether it can be improved to deliver better results. Improvement may have nothing to do with position. In fact, it is likely that you don’t need to buy a bigger ad to improve your competitive position. It may have everything to do with content.

Better Content

According to a 2008 Yellow Pages study, “The most powerful driver of calls is neither size nor position, but ad content.” However, in the study it was determined that the larger ads do increase call counts, but not just because of the ad size or its position. What they concluded is:

  • Larger ads generally contain more content
  • The additional content gives consumers more reasons to choose the business
  • The key to a successful ad is to have advertisers focus on the right message and content to win over a detail-oriented, value-shopping consumer
  • Content with white space ensures the ad is more legible
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