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Fear of NOT Advertising: Yellow Pages Hostage Situation

Do you know where your marketing dollars are going?

When I started eReleases in 1998, I considered the company an online venture. I didn’t see a real need for yellow page ads or print advertising.

Then the phone rang. The local phone company wanted to talk with me about yellow page advertising. I liked what I heard and put some big display ads under Public Relations for my entire region, a total of four or five areas, including Baltimore city. It wasn’t cheap.

Then the local business newspaper and a local business magazine called about the same time. I thought this was great. I let them develop some advertising campaigns. They looked great.

An interesting but relevant aside: prior to this, I had only had a dozen or so customers in the state of Maryland where eReleases is based.

Guess what? That didn’t change. There were two or three new customers from Maryland but I was able to track them to online marketing campaigns so I knew they didn’t come from any of this new offline marketing.

Each month when I sent in payment for the advertising campaigns, I resented it because I knew it was money wasted. The local business magazine followed up and tried different ad copy and strategies. I appreciated the effort but it didn’t work.

Then I realized: my clients, mostly business owners, don’t run to yellow pages for PR needs. They also aren’t likely to spend a lot of time reviewing print ads either.

When the sales rep from the phone company called about renewing my advertising, I declined. She was shocked.

“Aren’t you afraid of losing sales?,” she asked.

“No, because you haven’t brought any,” I said, explaining how I had received no customers from the local area since advertising other than a few customers that came from online marketing efforts.

“We don’t like you,” she laughed, adding that most customers don’t track where their customers came from.

Now, you might go to the yellow pages for a plumber or repair shop. However, I suspect that the bulk of yellow page advertisers get little benefit out of advertising. They continue to advertise out of fear that they could lose customers they aren’t tracking. It’s a yellow pages hostage situation. Fear is the gun to your head.

Are you tracking your marketing dollars? This includes press releases. Are you following traffic and revenue from your PR campaigns? While you shouldn’t judge PR based on a single press release, if you have distributed half a dozen press releases over a year with no results — no media coverage, no traffic, no sales, no credibility boost within your industry — you might not be a PR candidate.

You could also be doing something wrong with your press releases, like covering mundane topics or failing to lead with your most newsworthy hooks. How can you tell? Ask us. If you ever want to discuss your PR strategy, give us a call. eReleases is staffed by editors. No sales people. When you call, you speak directly to people who have edited thousands of press releases and have seen enough successful press releases to know what may or may not work.

In the end, spend your money wisely. I’d rather have you move your marketing dollars to something that works than take your money knowing you might not be getting any long-term results.

Mickie Kennedy

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.

3 Responses

  1. Smart move.
    When a new customer phones or e-mails one can always ask – how did you hear about us?
    thank you for your powerful newsletters.

    • Exactly. So few companies do this. I would place this as the second most important thing after taking a customer’s order. This works for PR as well. Having had clients spend lots of money on news clipping and monitoring services, we have found that the most economical PR tracking service is first to check your web stats, then simply asking all new customers either over the phone or as part of the online order form “How did you hear about us?”

  2. Whenever I get called in by a prospect I tell them three things.

    1. Most marketing doesn’t work.
    2. Most advertising doesn’t work.
    3. Most people spend far too much on marketing.

    Coming from a “Marketing Professional” this often shocks them and they wonder how I could possibly help them.

    I then go on to explain that for many people marketing is all about spending a lot of money on advertising and that you should only do this if you can reliably track success.

    I also explain how most marketing is equally useless and expensive BUT that there are hundreds of things they can do to promote/market their business that are either low cost or free AND that are extremely effective.

    PR is one of the marketing tools I always advocate as it is very cost effective when correctly handled…. but you do need to measure it effectively.

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