Chapter 9: Yellow Pages Advertising
Since the 1984 breakup of AT&T, Yellow Pages competition has
boomed. The federal ruling freed AT&T's regional phone operating
divisions and those former siblings have started competing with old
AT&T rivals like GTE, and each other. The open market and low paper
and printing costs also have attracted many new companies to Yellow
The Yellow Pages Publishers Association (YPPA), the industry's national
trade association, says that more than 6,000 directories are now published
in the United States. Adding to the confusion, any publisher can use
the walking-fingers logo and name "Yellow Pages" since they
were not trademarked in the United States by AT&T.
What does all this competition mean to you, the tanning salon operator?
It means lower advertising prices, flexible terms, new ad options and
a confusing array of choices. Let your fingers do the walking through
this article, and you'll learn how to get the most for your Yellow Pages
Choose A Directory
A study commissioned by the YPPA found that 58 percent of adults use
the Yellow Pages weekly. Another advantage for you as an advertiser
is that your message is available to consumers 24 hours a day, 365 days
a year, at home and in the office.
The first step in tapping this source of customers is to find out what's
available in your area. Your city may have only one Yellow Pages directory,
or 10 or more produced by a variety of publishers. You also may want
to consider the specialty directories that have appeared recently; Yellow
Pages targeted to women, senior citizens, Spanish-speaking consumers
and college students. To find out what directories are available in
your area, check (you guessed it) your Yellow Pages under Advertising-Directory
Next, look at the listings and think about your products and customers.
Do you mainly provide tanning services to local customers? Or do you
want to promote your ancillary services such as hair and nail to women
throughout the city? Would flexible, walk-in hours appeal to readers
of a college students' directory?
Decide where your customers come from, where new customers might come
from, and look for directories that fit those needs. You can advertise
in one or several, depending on your budget.
Now you're ready to make some phone calls. You should ask how long
the company has been publishing its directory, the total number of copies
delivered, the geographic coverage area, and any special features the
How much do the ads cost? Do businesses receive copies for each telephone
in the office? Are you interested in special features like four-color
ads or clip-out coupons? Comparison shop and look for an established
company that delivers the largest number of directories in your geographic
area at the lowest cost.
Look at what your competition is doing, and ask about the distribution
method. Most large directories are distributed by hand because mailing
would be expensive. A directory distributed by mail might be a small
one. Ask to see a copy before placing any ad.
Take the time to choose your directory carefully. Remember, you'll
have to live with your decision for at least one year.
Get More Bang For Your Buck
Now that you've picked your directory--or directories--you need to
decide which heading to list under. There are a number of possible subheadings
for the tanning industry, ranging from "Physical Fitness"
and "Reducing and Weight Control Services" to "Massage"
and "Health Clubs." But unless your business offers a wide
array of services, you'll probably want to choose the main heading:
For a small business, one heading is probably sufficient. Again, ask
yourself, "Where would my customers look for me?" And if you're
introducing a new service, such as weight control, or if one area of
your business has been slow, you might consider additional listings
under those headings.
Next, select which type of ad to buy. Three basic classifications are
available. A listing is just that, your business name and address with
a phone number. A space listing, measured in inches, includes additional
information about your business and will be boxed. A display ad is measured
in vertical rows called "columns" and might include eye-catching
typefaces, art, logos and other elements.
Usage studies indicate that the eye goes right to the bigger ads. Costs
for Yellow Pages advertising vary widely, depending on the city, the
directory's distribution, ad size and current market conditions.
According to figures from the YPPA, the one-inch space listing that
costs $150 in Frostproof, Fla., could run you $1,772 in Boston. And
the quarter-column display ad that a Buchanan, Va., tanning salon pays
$252 for would cost a Manhattan salon owner $3,831. A Yellow Pages representative
can provide specific costs for your area.
One possible way to stretch your advertising dollars is co-operative
advertising. Under this program, a business owner and manufacturer jointly
fund an ad, promoting the business while highlighting the manufacturer's
product or logo.
Ask your suppliers if they participate in co-op advertising. You'll
usually have to meet certain minimum purchase requirements, and buy
these products from the manufacturer within a specific time period.
You'll also have to follow guidelines for the ad itself, but the manufacturer
may reimburse you for up to 100 percent of your space costs.
Create A Unique Ad
There are two kinds of people who use the Yellow Pages--those who already
know who they're looking for, and those who know what they're looking
for and are trying to find a place to buy it.
Your job is to grab that second group of readers. The YPPA offers these
tips to help you create an ad that will make customers dial your number.
Your headline, the ad's descriptive "title," should not restate
the heading: if you're listing under "Tanning," don't put
your business name, unless it's descriptive. "Tom's Tanning"
won't grab readers, but "European Tanning & Spa" might.
Ad copy the words used to describe your business, should set you apart
from the competition. Use phrases like "Walk-Ins Welcome,"
"Complete Massage and Manicure Services Available," "One
of the Largest Salons in the Area" or "Serving Greater St.
Louis for 15 Years." Be specific and concise.
Your company name should appear in the ad, and you might want to add
any logo or slogan you use. Your address and phone number are certainly
important. And if your salon is difficult to find, consider adding a
map, directions, or a phrase like "Located 2 Blocks East of Northland
Listing your hours or that credit cards are accepted also might entice
customers to call you first. Remember, think from your reader's point
As far as art and layout, don't worry, you don't have to be a Picasso.
Advertisers are not responsible for providing finished, "camera-ready"
ads to the publishing company. If there's room in the budget, you can
hire a graphic artist if you wish. Otherwise, a rough sketch will do.
Your Yellow Pages representative will take it from there.
If you want to add illustrations, keep them simple. Complicated drawings
or fuzzy photographs will not reproduce well. The same goes for typefaces,
the lettering styles used in printing. Try to choose only two for your
ad. To set off a word or phrase, use boldface or larger type, not a
different type style. A clean, balanced ad with lots of white space
Once your ad has been published, you'll want to follow up to find out
just how much business the Yellow Pages is sending your way. You can
do this in three ways.
First, you can use a special telephone number that appears only in
your Yellow Pages ad. This can be expensive, but when that line rings,
you'll know the Yellow Pages generated the call.
A second, less-expensive method is to add a line of copy such as "Mention
this ad and receive a 10-percent discount." However, some directories
have restrictions on this type of offer. Check with your ad representative.
The simplest and least expensive way to track your advertising is to
use a tracking form. This is simply a form that employees use each time
they make contact with a new customer or potential customer, checking
off whether the contact was a phone call or walk-in, and where the customer
heard of the salon. At the least, spaces should be provided for the
Yellow Pages, verbal referrals and walkbys, in addition to spaces for
any other forms of advertising you do.
The information may surprise you and will help your plan later advertising.
Train your employees to use it for every customer and you'll have an
exact record of how your ad dollars work. You might want to design your
own form including questions on whether customers had trouble finding
the store, or under what headings they found you.
Today's Yellow Pages have many advantages for the tanning salon operator.
With more directories and ad options available, you can target your
audience, create an ad to grab those customers, and make an impact without
breaking your budget.