Yellow Page Advertising By: Bill Smith

April 8, 2008 by Mobile Beat Staff Writer

This course is designed to give you some insights and information about effective use of the Yellow Pages. We will try to cover the pros and cons, strategies you can use, and also some tips that our fellow DJs in PRODJ-land have consented to share with us.DECIDING IF YOU NEED THE YELLOW PAGES:

If you are a busy single op or multi-op, and the yellow pages are NOT a part of your advertising budget, most likely you don’t need the Yellow Pages. Your other marketing strategies (Web, Newspaper, referral network, etc.) are already working for you. Unless you want more exposure and have plans to expand, this additional expense doesn’t make sense. If you are not that busy, and you want to attempt to expand, we will explore both the pros and cons in taking this very big step.

BUDGET:

Certainly, budget is the most important factor. After all, if it costs you more to place your ad than you bring in, then obviously it’s a bad investment. But, how will you know until you try? What can you do to at least get an idea that the yellow pages WILL WORK in your area? The answer is simple. Call other DJs that are listed in your area. Tell them that you are considering an advertisement, and want to know if the Yellow Pages work for them. Hopefully you can get an honest answer or at least some idea from them that the ads either do or don’t work.

You should also plan to call the Yellow Pages folks and ASK them how much the DJ ads you see cost to run. After all, if you are going to advertise, you need to know how much it’s going to cost you. They will want to hook you for as much as they can get out of you. After all, that is the job of their salespeople. They will try to dazzle you with stories about stand out colors, 1-inch blocks Vs 1/2-inch blocks, art work that they can use, and also try to sell you multiple listings in multiple books in the area. It’s very confusing and can quickly become very expensive. You must ask yourself several very important questions when deciding to advertise and devote a large amount of money to this venture.

RETURN ON INVESTMENT:

The following well-written information appears courtesy of Mike Domitrz of Universal Sounds DJs:

“A solid, high quality DJ company should be able to increase growth significantly each year through the combination of referrals (every event you DJ should help bring in one new event — thus, matching growth each year) and then increase it significantly through marketing (bridal shows, websites, mailings, etc.) If companies do find themselves with this type of referral growth, they need to evaluate their marketing and the quality of their DJs. When people love a service, they love bragging about it to others.

6 companies run ads that cost between $650 – $850 per month in our region. If you have a lot of referrals and your marketing materials are effective, how much availability do you have left that would make $850 a month worth paying for advertising in the Yellow Pages? If you bring in 5 shows a month (very high in some markets) via the Yellow Pages, that would be 60 events per year. However, it would have cost you $10,200 to obtain those 60 events ($170 per lead). Where else would you pay $170 per hot lead?

Many DJs simply look at the sale and forget the cost of obtaining the sale. You can maintain a website for an entire year for $300 while you pay $10,200 for a Yellow Page ad (more people everyday are going to the Internet for their shopping). Plus, many markets have numerous Yellow Page books…which one do you decide to advertise with?

The majority of Yellow Page shoppers are LOW PRICE shoppers — this is a documented statistic. Therefore, if you run a higher priced DJ service (we hope that all DJs are asking for what they are worth and not undervaluing their prices), the yellow pages are truly useless. People will call just looking for the lowest price — regardless of quality. I have spoke with many business owners who have utilized the yellow pages and they all agree on this aspect.”

Mike poses the following questions for DJs that are using the Yellow Pages for advertising. DJs that are ready to take the plunge should read this VERY carefully so that you can maximize your YP experience:

1. How many sales per month do you get from the yellow pages (exactly –they should be tracking)?

2. How much do you pay for your Yellow Page ad? (the average cost per getting a show).

3. What is the largest size ad and price of that ad that any DJ runs in the yellow pages near you? Who has the largest ad and how much would that cost you to run — plus, how many DJs run that size ad? This second question is important because if no other DJs advertise in the Yellow Pages, your market is very different than the DJ who has to advertise against 30 other DJ companies’ ads.

4. Ask the yourself how many events their firm DJs a year (then, you can figure out the % of how many of their total shows come from the Yellow Pages)?

5. Then, consider other ways to bring in that percentage of their sales.

6. Compare your prices and those of your competitors (effects the value of the Yellow Pages tremendously — if you are a bottom feeder, the Yellow Pages can be effective for you gaining shows — but you usually won’t have much profit).

OTHER THOUGHTS:

Our DJs at PRODJ were overwhelmingly positive on using the Yellow Pages. Some are advertising because they think they need to keep up with what their competitors are doing. Others are actually doing well with them, others didn’t. We have published all of these comments as a way of giving you real world advice and experience. The Yellow Pages seemed to work well for several DJs that were in remote areas or with little competition.

Patrick Smiley wrote to us explaining how the Yellow Pages worked for him. “My immediate market is essentially 2 towns with a combined population of about 20,000, 45 minutes from Calgary, AB. You may have heard of it – Banff, Alberta. Our local phone book is the same height but 2 inches narrower than a standard city size. Our ad costs are less than 25% of the cost in the city book. Therefore, I have a 1/2-page ad for $130 cdn per month. Because we are a destination market, brides coming here to spec out their day using 2 resources, the hotel vendor list and the Yellow Pages. We are well represented in both. As there are only 3 major local players and 1 is a discounter, YP is very effective”.

Scott Peck also weighed in. “I personally think the YPs are great. Like somebody else said, just book one event and you may pay for the entire year’s fee. I have a smallish text only box. I pay about $25 per month. Off the top of my head I think I made over $6000 last year on YP calls alone, Do the math, it’s worth it for me. Do I get “price shoppers”? Sure, but so what? I don’t have to take any gig that I don’t feel 100% good about. I understand that some areas may have to take a different approach, especially if there are pages of DJs listed. I think there are under 10 in my book so it’s a great form of advertising. Like everyone else I love referrals, but I’m not at a point where I can totally fill my calendar with just referrals so it’s Yellow Pages for me”!

Roy Rogers in Wilson, North Carolina indicated this: “I’m running a line ad only in the YPs. So far I have had 4 calls since Oct. 99. The ad cost me about $15 a month and is 1 of 3. County population is about 80,000. There are about 8 DJs in this town”.

STRATEGIES:

Eric Kennelly wrote as well and had a very good point about what the YP added to his business. “I have a 1 inch ad, 5 lines of text, circled, in bold. Only costs $20/mo. I have only had three events booked as a result of this ad since Nov. You may say it was a waste but not really. The first gig almost paid for the ad, then it’s free for the rest of the year. Most of my gigs come from referrals though. I will probably renew my ad next year but I will wait and see how many more hits I get from it. Maybe it’s not the best, but it is exposure none the less. Another point is that having a YP add makes your company seems more professional. You can even make a one liner on your fliers or business cards that says, “See My Ad In The Yellow Pages”. They may not look for it but it gives you an air of legitimacy and professionalism”.

Bob Dietrich also wrote to us about his experiences using a large ad vs. a small ad. “A single line ad here reaches aprox. 225,000 and runs $16 a month. With almost 90% of our business in referrals, I always question whether even that is needed. In response to your question, I believe someone starting out should consider no more than a single line ad with all the other startup costs.

When the client indicates they’re using the YP, I ask them if the size of the ad influences them and surprisingly enough, they usually indicate that they stay away from the big ads since they expect the service to recover that cost in higher service cost. After the new DJ has a year or two of experience, they should then evaluate whether a bigger ad will benefit them. I believe there are much better ways of marketing their services other than the yellow pages. Many years ago I tried a quarter page full color ad…MUCHO BUCKS!! ($650/mo.) And, while calls did increase slightly, bookings did not. Back to a single line ad”.

Dee Hanscom had a very interesting comment on her Yellow Pages Experience: “Well, I’m betting most of my chickens on one widely used local directory, with line listings in 2 other popular local phone books. I got the same size as the 2 biggest DJ ads in the directory, since I’m still building my business, I need to compete with them. The big one is like 2.5 x 2.5 inches. My header, biz name is big, bold, and striking, because that’s what I gave them. The rest is wimpy, and the clip art was atrocious! I had to scramble to find my own clip art when they sent me a proof to approve, so I’d meet THEIR last minute deadline. When you want to deal with the big dog, I guess you have to play it their way. So what all this means is from my experience, if you’re doing a nice display ad, not just a little 3-5 line ad, make it up yourself, ready to go, when you go in for your appt. with them. I thought their “artists” would know what they were doing, and the result was not like I expected. You should see the ugly art they tried to put in my ad! So, hopefully it will work out OK, but I did learn. “

NOT SO GOOD:

Some of our DJs really hated the Yellow Pages, and others are not quite sure how it would help them.

Len Woelfel of Party Central wrote us and was very flat out about it: “We did YP for 2 years and found it to be a complete waste of money. IN fact, we got more calls the first year AFTER we pulled our ads than the 2 previous years when the ad was running”.

DON’T NEED IT:

Chris Wagner wrote to tell us about his perspective: “It’s been 3 years that I’ve been in business and haven’t once used the Yellow Pages. I’ve thought about it, but our web site is well making up for any hits that the phone book would have generated. There are too many Yellow Pages around here anyway. In order to reach my target audience I’d have to be listed in 4 or 5. Can’t afford that”!

WRAPUP:

Well, you very well may be totally confused by now. It isn’t an easy decision. There are a lot of factors to weigh, and a lot of uncertainties. The most important of these is certainly cost. Bottom line: you must decide how much to spend in relation to how much you make and hope to make. As Mike points out, you must track this once you start to measure its effectiveness, otherwise you are throwing your money away at worst, and at best, have no idea whether it is working. Starting out modestly with a one liner and tracking it is a great way to start and is the most inexpensive approach. Check out your competition. See how it’s working for them. Check out how much their ads cost.

Another important factor to take into consideration is your location. If you are in a location that is densely populated, the YP ad may be more beneficial. However, if you are in an area where there are SO MANY other DJs listed, it may not be worth while. The number of DJs listed in the book can make or break the productivity of YP advertising. Your area may not have many DJs, but it may also have a low total population. In that case, you don’t want to spend a lot of money on the ad – a small listing is fine.

In a large metropolitan area, there can be an abundance of DJ listings, and the ads in those markets are a lot more expensive. Therefore, the effectiveness of Yellow Page advertising varies greatly from market to market. How well it is working in the market you are considering is something that you MUST find out from a fellow DJ before you take the plunge. Choosing the number of books to cover suburban areas as well as the big central city in your area is also a strategy to consider. Other points of interest include providing your own artwork if using a block ad. Some DJs list their Web page address in the Yellow pages, combining the accessibility of the Yellow pages with the Internet. And speaking of the Internet, you can advertise in the Yellow Pages on the net. Do not overlook that when speaking with your YP rep.

As we pointed out at the beginning, if you are already a busy single or multi-op, most likely the YP won’t really help you out very much if you are NOT interested in getting busier. If you are an up-and-coming DJ, the Yellow Pages MAY help you. But do the work and the math first. Research it very carefully, and see if it makes economic sense to you. Probably one final point to consider is that it is probably in your best interest to have at LEAST a simple one-line listing. If you have a business phone line, you get that for free anyway. Sometimes people know “that DJ from XYZ DJ Service was great!” However, they need an easy way to find you. Maybe they didn’t get your card. Maybe they saw you a couple years ago. They remember your name, they remember your performance, where do you think they’ll look first to try to find you? It’s not always price shoppers that turn to the Yellow Pages.

Good Luck in your Yellow Pages experience.

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Mobile Beat Staff Writer (228 Posts)

This is the general editors account for Mobile Beat Magazine and Website. Who reads Mobile Beat online and in print and attends Mobile Beat events? DJs, VJs and KJs to start with, especially those who own and operate mobile entertainment services. They provide music, video, lighting and a myriad other entertainment choices for corporate events, wedding receptions, dances and innumerable other gatherings.


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