Stand Out: What Yellow Pages Marketing Can Teach You About How To Market Your Local Business

in On Local Business Marketing

Today, I’m want to walk you through a 3-step exercise I do with my private consulting clients to find out if you’re making the 2 biggest mistakes most local businesses make that kills their ability to attract high quality, high-paying customers and clients.

These marketing mistakes are the reason why, no matter what you do, you can’t seem to break through the clutter and grab your ideal prospects attention.

Why you experience peaks and valleys in income from month to month.

Why you don’t understand what separates the bustling local businesses from the struggling to survive.

And why your business will never grow to its full potential if you don’t fix them ASAP.

Time to play prospect

For the sake of this exercise, I want you to pretend you’ve decided to remodel your kitchen. You know nothing about home improvement, and you’re looking for a skilled, trustworthy contractor.

When you open the Yellow Pages to the “Home Improvement” section, these are the space ads you see:





Looking at these ads with all identifying information (names, addresses, phone numbers, websites, ect.) blocked out, can you tell the difference between one home improvement contractor and the next?

Every advertisement says they do kitchen remodeling, as well as every other home improvement/repair imaginable.

Most offer free estimates, one offers a 10% discount to new customers, another offers a 1-year warranty, and they’re all licensed, bonded and insured.

Essentially, they’re all saying the same things.

So tell me, how will you decide which contractor to work with?

Answer: PRICE!

Virtually all local small businesses, no matter what they sell or what service they provide, make 2 crippling mistakes in their advertising.

1.    They say the exact same thing as their competitor
2.    They try to be everything to everyone

And what ends up happen is this: when everyone looks the same and sounds the same, the only way for your would-be customers to tell one business from another is by price.

Price shopping and commodity pricing aren’t things the “market” does to you. They’re something you unknowingly do to yourself by virtue of having nothing unique to say, no message that communicates to your ideal customer that, “Yes, my business is what you’re looking for.”

Because the truth is, your customers are willing to pay a premium price for the things they desperately want, they’re just not willing to figure out if you’re the business who’s worth it. So you have to tell them (more to come on this later).

Are you making this deadly marketing mistake?

Ok, now I want you to do this 3-step exercise for your business.

  1. Turn to the section where you would advertise your local business and look the space ads there. (If you’re already advertising there, even better.)
  2. Next, take a marker and scratch out any identifying information like name, address, phone number, ect.
  3. Now put yourself in the place of your ideal prospect. Can you tell the difference between one business and the next? Does one business speak uniquely to you? Is there any ad that makes you think, “Yes, this business gets me and what I need. It doesn’t matter what they charge,  I want to take my business there.”

What to take away from this exercise

I’m not telling you this because I want you to redo your Yellow Pages ad. (In reality, new, more powerful Internet strategies make the Yellow Pages a less effective marketing tool every year.)

I’m telling you because this exercise applies to every piece of marketing material you put out.

When you understand how to differentiate yourself from your competition and speak directly to you dream client, your marketing costs will drop significantly while your marketing results – getting the right customers in the door, being able to increase your prices, generating referrals – will go up and up.

Get this right and you’ll never worry where your next customers are coming from again: they’ll be lined up outside your door, ready and waiting to buy from you.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tom November 22, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Thanks Michael. I like the exercise, found it “thought stimulating”.


2 James Deck November 2, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Great exercise. One of those things we kinda' do in our head, but physically blocking things out makes it very objective.


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