Posts Tagged ‘Yellow Pages’

A recent study by Ryan C. McDevitt of Duke University lays claim that plumbers who bid on Google’s PPC ads have a high likelihood of being poor quality plumbers.

The article makes a comparison of PPC ads to the former yellow pages. The argument begins with the home based services whose names begin with the letter ‘A’ or a number. They found plumbers with ‘A’ or numeric names charge a 8.4% price premium. They used a study from 2005 based on the Chicago yellow pages which documents ‘A’ names and number names by percentage of total listings in each category to point out plumber’s beat the average 9.3% of business with ‘A’ names. This study they used is pretty eye opening.

Rank Yellow Page Headings by Percentage of “A” or # Names

 Locks & Locksmiths 65.90%
 Towing-Automotive 28.90%
 Taxi & Limousine Service 21.20%
 Convenience Stores 21.20%
 Plumbing Contractors 21.00%
 Associations 20.80%
 Insurance 19.90%
 Roofing Contractors 15.20%
 Cellular Telephone Services 14.90%
 Art Galleries & Dealers 14.90%
 Employment Agencies 14.80%
 Automobile Repairing & Service 14.50%
 Electric Contractors 14.10%
 Travel Agencies & Bureaus 13.50%
 Painters 13.30%

Source: American Business Disc,2005

Does it correlate that yesterday’s Yellow Page spammers are today’s internet spammers?

The fact that Locksmith’s tops the list reminds me of the notorious Locksmith spammers in today’s SEO world. Albeit it may not be entirely fair to suppose an ‘Automobile’ category is gaming the system by using ‘A’ names as the category itself begins with ‘A’.  It is also insightful that roughly 6.2% of competitive categories use ‘A’ or numeric names. If name selection for a business were unbiased we would likely see an average closer to 3.9% ‘A’ names, which is where Lawyers and Attorneys fall due to regulations requiring firms use names that match the lead attorney. Pizza companies actually fall below that mark with a 3.4% ‘A’ name ratio.

My Thoughts

The idea that plumbing spammers are more likely to bid on google PPC ads is intriguing. However I found that the study by McDevitt of Duke makes a lot of assumptions. Further, it used Yelp as a primary source for counting reviews and comparing complaint averages. I highly doubt that the data included Yelp’s obnoxious filtered reviews. Plus, as Larry Kim added, 25% of Yelp’s reviews are suspected as fake.

And if the conclusion has some merit among the plumbing industry, I find it hard to believe it is applicable to all home service industries. Granted I am a bit biased to the pest control industry, but even still, I find it hard to imagine a business model that could afford the current cost per ‘pest control’ click and not retain customers.

The study does have some tenable findings in the yellow pages with regards to A and numeric names associated with quality. I believe the choice to take the AAA name for phone book ranking is an indication of choosing short term gains over long term strategy. A well developed quality service takes more careful aim with long term strategies in the crosshairs.

But… “Hey, I am just the pest control guy.

for further discussion on this study visit HBR :

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Hello from Google!

For a limited time, Yellowbook will set up a new AdWords account just for you and build your online advertising campaigns at no charge.* And even better, you get a $100 Google AdWords credit to get started. This is a great opportunity for you to have Yellowbook professionally manage your AdWords campaigns….

Sincerely, Your Google AdWords Team

Did Google team up with a Yellow Page directory?

Per a rep from yellowbook, these emails were only going to people that had adwords programs and that had stopped. If these people picked up a 3rd party and began a new and different account then yes, they could be receiving a solicitation from Google endorsing YellowBook as an Adwords Partner. This is indeed a rare occasion that Google would actually email out and name a 3rd party partner. This also means that other adwords certified companies could have clients receiving this email from Google. And this potentially means that these other 3rd parties will loose clients to Yellowbook because of Google’s mention of YellowBook and seeming endorsement.

I imagine that Google’s position will be the same as when the in-house Adwords team solicited me, “I am sorry we can’t do business with you if you are an existing adwords advertiser with one of our partners.” But disenfranchised adwords clients may simply say, “I no longer do business with that 3rd party”, as they cut ties and move to the endorsed party. Further, the reps from will have every monetary incentive to take clients even if policy states that they should not.

What Happened to Google’s Internal Adwords Team?

It is interesting to note that Google has revamped their internal adwords out reach team. Apparently that team has been dismantled. The rep from yellowbook seems to believe that Google is now trusting Yellow Book to be “their feet on the ground.” YellowBook is also offering SEO services. They guarantee a first page placement and then maintenance there after. Part of that strategy includes pages such as this: This Yellow Page Company wants to provide every marketing service a small business could desire, from phonebook to mailers.

Funny that Google seems to endorse a yellow pages company. Last time I checked Google…

Screen Shot from Google

Advice to Internet Marketers

My advice to internet marketers, keep your customers happy. Know how to communicate with them. Stay current with them and keep working for them. If you stop performing and reporting then you will loose clients to Google’s email. Because, yes, the field of internet marketing is getting tighter.

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The answer is as widely based as the public itself. This question hits the core of marketing. How do you get your product or service in front of the masses when they are looking for you? Yellowpages have a great argument, “customers only pick up a phone book when they are ready to call someone.” This is a great selling point and its probably accurate. Its also close to accurate that 60% of the phone book users already know who they are looking for when they reach for that phone book (Stat pulled from a DEX media packet). The phone book is used as a directory.

Search engines or online searches on the other hand are different. If someone knows who they are looking for, say Bulwark, then they don’t search for a generic term like “Exterminating” or “Pest Control“. They search for “Bulwark”. If they are searching for “Pest Control” then they are shopping or information gathering. And since they are window shopping, conversions for these online visitors is very low.

The best converting clients from people who are shopping and find your service come through referrals. Most people will ask friends or family members for recommendations when it comes to common household services or products. Some argue that this falls into branding.  You want to be the “first of mind”.  They argue that you need to spend money to get your name out there and make the public aware of your service. But saying, “I have heard of Joe’s Bug Shop.”, is different then “Use Bulwark, they have been good to me and my family.”

Searching for a business probably covers all the above touch points and more. Many businesses will use a combination approach believing that all the pieces of the pie are important.  They will spend in branding, radio, TV, and yellowpages because arguably “they all play a part.” This is called marketing overlap. It’s nice for advertisers because their is no concrete answer to what is working and what is not working. In reality there is some overlap, but where do you get the best bang for the buck. In the end, shoppers will take their friends recommendations and then do a little more online research. Or they will pick up a phone book and remember as they are turning the pages that Joe next door uses Adam’s Pest Control or that “Bulwark” has a recognizable logo. Because of marketing overlap it is easy to get confused on what touch points really drove them to buy or call.

So how do you know what works for you and your business. Test, Test, TEST… Record your results and keep testing.

Thanks for visiting.  Please add your comments.


P.S…. A customer coming to you or searching is different then you finding customers.

What works and what doesn’t work in pest control advertising?

I am constantly bombarded with phone calls and emails for advertising. Now isn’t that just a little ironic? If your a marketing company or advertiser then shouldn’t you be able to reach me through your advertising methods???

If your advertising is that effective then why are you calling me instead of advertising to me?

Just food for thought.

Our most recent call was for yet another phone book directory. Paper must be getting cheaper. What a phone book company doesn’t see is this:

100 calls=
5 bogus calls – Solicitors/wrong numbers.
48 Existing customers – No New money just one of our local customers looking for us and happening to find us in the phone book directory.
24 referrals calls- Looking for us, if they don’t find us in your directory then they will find us somewhere else.
23 Sales Leads- (Potential new customers, shoppers) Dex quoted me that pest control closes at 33%.

So out of 100 phone calls you might close 7.59.

Now this is just an average, and perhaps it has little real bearing on if the phone book works for you. But for me it shows you what a sales guy doesn’t. “Oh, Billy Bob’s Pest Control got 300 phone calls last month. At $3000 and closing half of those that’s only $20 a new customer!!!”

Wrong, your pest control service might get new customers but I doubt you are really bringing in even close to 50% of those calls. Run the numbers yourself. Then ask yourself should I be working to pay the phone book? That’s what happens when your phone book advertising breaks even. You do all the pest control work the phone book steals all your profits.