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Basic Tanning Certification
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Salon Management
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Understanding Customer Behavior
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Selling Services and Products

Advertising, Marketing and Promotions
Creating an Image
Yellow Pages Advertising
Ten Steps to Profitable Print Advertising

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 Pages Publishing.

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 dollar.

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 and Guide.

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 company offers.

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: "Tanning Salons."

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 Mall."

Listing your hours or that credit cards are accepted also might entice customers to call you first. Remember, think from your reader's point of view.

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 is best.

Track Results

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.

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