That is the question. It is directory book advertising renewal time and I am seriously doubting the impact that these books, such as Yellow Pages, BT Phonebook and Thompson Local have now.

When I started seven years ago, just before online advertising really took off, I can remember taking lead after lead from these directories. As well as from word of mouth and recommendation of course! But now, I’ll be lucky if I make one lead every 3 months out of those tired old books! And they’re not cheap either!

Yellow Pages is by far the most expensive of them all. You can quite easily spend thousands in there and not see any sort of return on your investment. Thompson Local is quite a bit cheaper but again, any sort of ROI is highly unlikely. So, the debate in the office was whether we ditch all paper advertising altogether and focus on other means such as online and vans etc, or do something smaller in the Yellow Pages and ditch the rest. My own personal view is that we should come out of them totally and focus on web advertising and website expansion. I just don’t see the point when we now probably make just a half-dozen Yellow Pages leads per year.

The argument against that was about image. If we’re not in the books in some way people might think we have gone bust. Plus, the elderly aren’t online, well some are but not all. How else would they find us if they still use the directories as a means of finding products and services?

I argued that there are far more silver surfers out there than we appreciate and if they really wanted to find our details they would. Probably via a family members’ smart phone! Print advertising is really in it’s last throes is some cases, especially directories. I cannot think of the last time either myself, or mum and dad went to the Yellow Pages to look up something. We have always gone to Google. So I guess that is the question we have to ask ourselves if we are to solve the debate: if we’re not looking in them, who is?

Over the past few months we have put more emphasis on our website, given it a full re-design and brought it right up to date. In fact, I think our company site is one of the best out there now! It has more than paid off, with traffic, leads and sales all going up since we focused more on it. Which I think is proof in the pudding that online does genuinely work better that directories!

Would love to know your thoughts on this. Comments more than welcome!