Many of us have forgotten the hidden value of our White Pages listing in the telephone directory. Before becoming the large “buying guide” it is today, the phone book was the place to find residential and business phone numbers, primarily via the White Pages.
These days, most of the emphasis is placed on the value of the Yellow Pages, but we shouldn’t take our business White Pages listing for granted. We assume that establishing a phone number with our service provider is all we need to ensure we’re listed accurately. But take a moment to check: Does your business even appear in your local White Pages?
As a business operator, you can choose which local exchange carrier you use for phone service. The listing information you provide is what’s given to the various directory publishers for the print White Pages. It’s also what’s provided when someone calls directory assistance, and what appears on the Internet Yellow Pages. It’s one of the ways other websites obtain their listing data, too. Many operators complain that their information is incorrect and are unsure how the data is obtained.
If your business data is relayed incorrectly to the carrier, it will be published incorrectly, so be careful about the information you provide. If the phone number is a fax or backup business line, specify that the number as “non-published.” If you fail to specify a facility address to be printed, you could end up with a corporate address as the facility location. These are items to check every time a directory is delivered to ensure data has not been lost or changed during the year.
In most cases, your Yellow Pages sales representative cannot correct or make changes (other than enhancements) to your White Pages listing. This can only be accomplished by contacting your phone-service provider. Any changes that could affect your listing should be communicated to the provider so it can submit an order to the directory publishers.
Always obtain a confirmation number when you submit a change. This will be the only reference point you have to confirm the establishment of a number or to follow up on changes you’ve requested.
Complimentary listings in the Yellow Pages can also only be placed for the phone number and address you’ve listed with the phone-service provider. If you don’t receive your complimentary listing or it’s printed incorrectly, the confirmation number you have from the provider can be provided to the Yellow Pages department or your sales representative to assist in ensuring an accurate listing next time.
The Importance of the White Pages
Many business owners are unaware of opportunities the White Pages offer. You can position your business as an industry leader by incorporating a strong White Pages program into your marketing strategy. Approximately 78 percent of consumers access the White Pages at least 2.5 times per week, according to a 2005 YPA White Page Usage and Perception Study. Of those that use a product or service after locating a business in the White Pages, 60 percent are repeat customers, the study showed.
Repeat and referral business has historically been the most cost-effective form of advertising. If someone refers your storage facility by name to a friend, but doesn’t have the phone number readily available, the friend’s ability to find you easily and quickly in the White Pages is precious.
You may have great signage and street exposure, but how would a potential tenant find your phone number? The easiest way is through the White Pages. With the storage heading heavily occupied in the Yellow Pages, finding you in the White Pages by name makes it easier and doesn’t expose potential tenants to your competitors.
Make it Easy to Be Found
There are also many enhancements now offered in the White Pages. The most common and least expensive is to bold your listing to make it stand out. This is suggested especially if you have a name that’s common, begins with the letter A, or follows the city, county or street name. Some White Pages directories also offer color listings, which can further set you apart.
Ads can also incorporate your logo for easy recognition. In appeal ratings, 41 percent of respondents like to see a business name in bold, according to the YPA survey. Thirty-five percent prefer to see a Web address included so they can access additional information online, and 47 percent like to see the facility’s hours of operation.
Other enhancements include banner and corner ads that repeat every few pages. These types of ads have proven valuable for attracting customers who are looking in the White Pages for another business.
Make sure you’re listed when a customer is looking for you, whether it’s in the White Pages, the Yellow Pages or on the Internet. If they already know the name of your business, good job. Now help them by providing a quick, easy way to contact you. Increase the likelihood that a customer will call or visit your business and capture a potentially missed opportunity. The White Pages have always served as a valuable tool to connect customers with businesses in their local area.
Michelle Millis is a senior client-service manager of Michaels Wilder Inc., an advertising agency specializing in Yellow Pages, Internet marketing and talent recruitment for the self-storage industry since 1989. For more information, visit www.michaelswilder.com.