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We have just been through the process of signing up for the yellow pages again.

I can still remember that ad where the secretary forgot to book the yellow pages ad, and the boss is yelling out the window. I would have to say, if we had missed it, I really wonder if it would make any difference.

Who uses the printed yellow pages anymore? If you want something, you go online and you go to Google.

Sure we still use the yellow pages in our place but it’s probably once a year and it is for a local tradesperson. And it’s only when we are sitting right next to the yellow pages and not the computer.

As a business, we sell temperature loggers. I would never use the yellow pages to search for temperature loggers. The joke is we aren’t even sure where we are meant to fit in. Would anyone know which category we are meant to be in? So if someone does open the yellow pages, are they ever likely to find the category we are meant to be in?

We found out the answer – “Instruments – General”.

So printed yellow pages are a thing of the past for most people. But what about the yellow pages online?

Let’s assume some people do use it online. You now just enter one text field and have the option to limit it to a suburb, state or national. The old book structure is hidden initially. You see the name of the company and the category it is in once it has found a match.

So the old category concept is a bit lost. Thank goodness because that “instruments – general” had me worried. If someone types in “OnSolution” they will find us.

But that’s what the white pages are for, not the yellow. So if someone types in “Instruments – general” they would possible find us.

And this is where the Yellow Pages tries the massive upsell. A basic listing will cost a couple of hundred dollars. But if you want your company details in there with product information and pictures, then you need a package and it costs. But if you are in multiple categories, or have multiple addresses, you need a package for each. So now the price is screaming up.

And for what? So that a person can go to a page that has half the information about what you do. But THERE IS ALREADY A LINK TO YOUR COMPANY’S WEB SITE. The person is likely to click through anyway.

But the packages had the benefit of providing key words. Awesome. So why have categories if there are key words? The key words are there for Google, not for yellow pages. If they acted as keywords in the yellow pages online search then why have the categories?

To top it all off, we discovered that the simplest and most effective way to be found was to change the company name. $30 a year and you can register a new trading name. So we spawned a couple of new names like “Glitterbug Handwashing Training” and “LTrace Sterilisation Tracking” so if anyone types in “handwashing” in the yellow pages they will find us.

But here is what we found really funny…

If they put in a regional search (e.g. a city or state), we are filtered by where we are, not which book we are in. We listed Logtag in the Brisbane yellow pages (it was closing first, and we were going to list in all the capital cities). We discovered that we appeared for Logtag nationally, Logtag NSW, Logtag Sydney, Logtag Baulkham Hills because that’s where we are. We also appear for Logtag Parramatta because we are close enough. But not Logtag Brisbane.

So there goes the need to be in all the printed Yellow Pages. We just need to be in one anywhere.

So which one? We discovered that New Castle is half the price of Sydney. So why not be in the New Castle Yellow Pages and get the online listing with it. It’s not like anyone is going to look in the book. Our logic is that they are even less likely to look in the book in Sydney than in regional areas.

But then this begs the question – why be in any book? Why not just be online?

The answer, because it costs more to be just on-line than to be in a printed book and receive a free online listing with it. Go figure.

Hence the title of my post – “Yellow Pages can’t go green”. They want you to take up your couple of square centimetres of print. They want to cut down another tree so that the book is padded out that little bit more.

So our one minor consolation is that there are less Yellow Pages books being printed for New Castle than Sydney.

So next year you will find us in the New Castle Yellow Pages and online. I’m not sure if the Yellow Pages will be in existence the year after that. I think we are too lazy to make our fingers do the walking.

I am considering becoming a “Yellow Pages Marketing Expert” where we can maximise your exposure on the Yellow Pages for only $227 per year. Hey, should that be the title for this post?