Has everyone got their new version of the Yellow Pages? I did. Look at the image above, that’s the Yellow pages I got through my letter box the other week. If we ever needed proof that this sort of thing was dead in the water, this is it! Remember how the Yellow Pages used to be?

I don’t think I’ll be standing on my Yellow Pages to reach anything any time soon. Still, the decline of the once famous directory is a sign of the times, and also a warning.

It’s all the internet’s fault

The fact of the matter is search engines like Google have caused the downfall of the Yellow Pages. It is simply a product and business model that cannot compete on any level with a business like Google. And why would it? With the internet so accessible on billions of devices around the world, looking something up or trying to find a business you need is seconds away. No digging through your cupboards trying to remember where you put that dusty old book. The big yellow book is now redundant.

Nothing lasts forever however, and it was only going to be a matter of time before the internet took over when it came to searching. But could the Yellow Pages, and it’s parent company Hibu have done more to protect the company from the internet onslaught?

Adapt or die

Lets look at an example of a business that managed, just, to survive the recession and dominance of the internet. Argos, the high street retailer. Their business model has undergone enormous change over the last few years. Their stores are now more like pick up centres for people who order and reserve their products online. They have invested heavily in technology, apps, website etc to allow people to easily order products from their phones and tablets, to then simply drop in at their local store and pick up what they want. And I can tell you it works. I have the Argos app on my phone and it works very well. I reserve my order, pay for it in store and pick it up. It’s always busy in there now, yet I’m in and about in about 5 minutes. Business seems to be doing well for these guys.

Now I’m not saying the new Argos business model should have been the one for the Yellow Pages, but what I am saying is that they should have adapted their business a long time ago to combat the change in the business environment. They didn’t however, and they seem very close to not being in business at all. Bet you never use their yell.com website either!

Online advertising over print

The other fact we have to consider is that abundance of free and cheap advertising online. Google’s targeted adverts, free websites and organic search engine results mean the idea of paying thousands of pounds a year to be in a very old fashioned and shrinking yellow book just really isn’t appealing any more.

Even better, you can track the performance of adverts online, you cannot do that with print. If a company is going to spend thousands on advertising, surely they want to know how their advert is doing? This has been one of the main reasons why online advertising has done so well. It’s always there, always accessible, It’s cheaper than print, way cheaper! It’s more accurate. It’s targeted. It’s performance can be tracked.

We moved out of the Yellow Pages a while ago now and have saved thousands in the process. We have also done the same with the other phone books and directories. They had a place in business, but that time has now run it’s course. It’s time to move on.