If your phone stopped ringing, would your business be in trouble? That’s my usual answer to business owners who ask me if “dishing out money to the Yellow Pages every month” is still a wise investment. If customers don’t normally think of your service or product until they need it, and a lot of your business is done by phone, an effective Yellow Pages ad design still rings in the most local customers for the money. So how do you design for this one-of-a-kind medium? The following eight guidelines will keep your phone dancing across your desk with new business.
1) Choose the Right Yellow Page Ad Size, You’ll Save a Bundle. Don’t sweat about buying your way into first position by having the largest Yellow Page ad in your heading! Few people call only the first few (or largest) ads. Undecided customers are still looking for the company they can feel the best about, not the first company they come across. Prospects will respond to the Yellow Page ad design that A) Visually captures their attention and B) Engages and persuades them with ad copy that speaks to their emotions. Ad size is not as important as your sales rep claims. In fact, appearing in the first third of your heading is considered good positioning as long as your Yellow Page ad is properly developed.
2) Technicolor or Black & Yellow? Put Your Money Where It Matters Most. If you’re considering costly colors, spend your money on design first, positioning second, and color last. A properly designed, one color Yellow Page ad will easily outperform a larger, full-color ad that’s poorly designed and without compelling copy. Bottom line? A bad Yellow Pages ad will get bad results regardless of color, size or positioning, because these things have little to do with convincing the customer to call you!
3) Ignore Most Readers; Embrace Your Most Important Prospects. Tightly focused Yellow Page ad designs convince more customers to actually call and do business with you. Casting the widest net possible in an attempt to reach everyone forces you to compete with all the others in your heading and dilutes your message. Would you rather persuade 10% of the market 100% of the way into becoming customers, or reach 100% of the market and convince them only 10% of the way? Speak to your most important prospects directly, and they’ll reply by calling.
4) A Masterfully Crafted Headline Nearly Guarantees Success. If your headline fails (or worse, is missing), your ad will fail. Crucial is an understatement. Make sure your headline appears prominently at the top of your Yellow Page ad design and that it fills these main functions:
* Snares readers’ eyes as they scan the page.
* Conveys your most important benefit (Unique Selling Proposition), setting you apart from your competitors in a meaningful way
* Strikes an emotional chord with the reader, compelling them to read further. Spend 60% of your design time developing your unique, benefit-related headline. It’s that important! Do NOT use your business name, logo or characterless copy. Your headline must set you apart from the others, prove that you fully understand your prospect’s problem, and convince readers that you genuinely care about helping them.
5) Persuasive Body Copy Always Touches Their Hearts. Once you’ve gained prospects’ attention with your lead (and image), you’ll need to convert their interest into confidence with copy that speaks to their needs. Undecided prospects are looking for the company they can feel the best about doing business with, so crawl deep into the buyer’s mind, and think like they’re thinking at their moment in need.
Now write copy that addresses your prospects’ emotional state of mind, uses electric words that shock readers with the truth, and speaks to your prospects in the second person (you, you, you – remember, it’s ALL about them). Do this and you’ll be overwhelmed at the number of customers that end up feeling the best about your business. Customers who are confident that you understand their problem and can solve it better than anyone else are customers confident enough to call you.
6) Eyeball-Popping Images and Clutter-Free Layouts. NEVER use “expected” images in your Yellow Pages ad, EG: plumbers who display a fleet of trucks; lawyer ads that show gavels, eagles and flags; or storage companies that picture a row of meaningless storage doors. Washed out in a sea of insignificant “clip art,” these images blur into a quickly scanned background and push readers’ eyes to rest on images and designs that DO stand out. If you’ve done a good job creating your main headline, choosing an image for your Yellow Page ad will be easy. Your graphic should be an arresting, eye-grabbing image that:
* Reinforces your main headline concept, and
* Differentiates your business from the others, in a meaningful way
“Meaningful” is the key word. Clever and creative ad design that fails to persuasively address your prospects’ needs might make readers smile, but your phone will hang dead in the receiver. You must both arrest prospects’ attention and draw them into reading the copy, AND persuade readers to do business with you. It’s a tough juggling act that most advertisers and greenhorn ad designers have a hard time with, but it’s the only act that increases sales.
7) Call Them to Action or Kiss Them “BUH-BYE.” Prospects only read Yellow Page ads as a prelude to calling — to give someone their business! Don’t frustrate potential customers by trying to send them to your Web site, giving them your email address, or worse yet, trying to brand an image. Your prospects are intending to call someone, so make sure you’re the business they call by asking them: “call right now!” Include a distinct call-to-action near your phone number. EG, “Call and get your FREE analysis now.” Don’t haphazardly place your phone number just anywhere. Your number and call-to-action should appear in the bottom portion of your ad, along with your address and other contact info.
8) A Professional Yellow Page Ad Designer? Choose Wisely. Want results from your ad? Ensure your designer has experience obtaining those results for his customers! Many Yellow Page ad design “connoisseurs” are actually marketers with sparse ad design skills and experience. Some have simply chosen to mimic other successful Yellow Page design sites (so much for their creativity). Many offer the same lackluster skills your Yellow Page publisher provides for FREE. Ask for references and make sure their Yellow Page advertising design clients have, in fact, experienced improved response rates. If they haven’t, keep looking. Never try to save a few hundred dollars in design fees at the expense of thousands in lost sales.
Effective Yellow Page ads skillfully combine these eight (and many other) design elements to work together to create a powerful emotional connection with the audience. Does your Yellow Page ad design move your prospects deeply and compel them to call you? Or are you waiting for the phone to ring? Let me know…