By |Published On: December 23, 2013|

Firms that specialize solely in digital marketing tend to have a negative view of traditional advertising and marketing. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) companies are quick to claim that print advertising—and especially Yellow Pages—is “obsolete” and “a waste of money.” But here’s what they aren’t telling you.

Yellow Pages and Traditional Media Still Work

Traditional offline marketing was a $93.6 billion industry in 2012. Direct marketing alone—which includes mailed postcards, brochures, catalogs, and coupons—produced $2.05 trillion in sales in 2012.

While Yellow Page usage has declined in major metropolitan markets, usage in suburban and rural areas remains high.

The Local Media Tracking Study, conducted by research firm Burke among 8,000 US adults over a year-long period, found that print Yellow Page usage wasn’t far behind search engines, with 74 percent saying they used print Yellow Pages to find a local business, versus 76 percent who said they used a search engine.

Response and Conversion Rates for Digital Advertising Aren’t Much Higher than Print

SEO firms would have you believe that online marketing will open a floodgate of new business. The truth is both online and offline marketing have single-digit response rates. Direct mail yields response rates of 1.1 to 1.4 percent, versus 0.03 percent for email, 0.04 percent for Internet display ads, and 0.22 percent for paid search.

That’s because, at any given time, the number of consumers who actually need your product or service at the exact moment they see your ad are small. But so long as you obtain enough new customers, your advertising more than pays for itself and you make a profit.

Online Marketing is not Enough

Google software engineer Matt Cutts emphasized the importance of businesses having a well-rounded marketing strategy that includes both online and offline media. He specifically mentioned print media advertising, billboards, and Yellow Pages, “because you can’t count on any one channel always working out perfectly.”

Advertising Channels are Fragmented

According to local search expert, Andrew Shotland, growth in local digital media services has increased audience fragmentation:

While years ago, a local business could put an ad in a Yellow Pages book and be confident they were going to hit a big percent of its market, today local marketers have to cobble together media buys across multiple channels to get the same audience.

Digital-Only Firms Have a Hidden Agenda

As someone who ran a web development business for over five years, I can certainly understand the web marketing industry’s natural bias against traditional media. But behind that bias lays a hidden agenda. They know they can’t succeed unless they convince you that traditional media no longer works.

To get you to spend your marketing dollar with them, rather than their print competitors, many distort or ignore the truth about traditional media.

All Your Marketing Eggs in Shouldn’t be in One Basket

No single marketing method is “best.” Just like the individual players on a sports team, each has its inherent strengths and weaknesses. Marketing is most effective when it’s a team rather than a shotgun.

We believe in a holistic approach to local marketing. That includes both Yellow Page advertising and local search marketing. Want to know more? Contact us today!


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