Who’s Using the Yellow Pages?

Yellow PagesDid you hear about the big snow storm up in New England over the weekend? Lots of homes were without power, and some still are. So, how are they going to know who to call for snow removal, towing or home repairs? They can’t go to their computers since they have no electricity; and their smart phones are running low on battery power. I know, they can go to the yellow pages.

In fact, that is exactly what they will do. The data are not in for this most recent storm, however during and immediately after Superstorm Sandy last fall, calls to businesses with advertising in the print yellow pages increased significantly. Overall, call volume to YP businesses increased by over 200% immediately following Sandy. Calls to relevant categories increased by over 500%. In some specific categories, the results were even more staggering. For example, calls from the YP to hotels increased from 1 or 2 calls per day (per hotel) to 40-45 per day in the days before, during and after Sandy. Calls to tree service companies jumped 1,500% for a full week after the storm. Increased call volumes continued for 3 weeks for these advertisers.

Many other categories of business experienced increased call-volume, as well. Some obvious ones include: electric generators (1,000% increase), flood assistance (from 0 calls to 10 calls per day), siding and roofing contractors (500-600% increase), other home repair services (300% increase), auto-related (350% increase), etc. One surprising category that experienced an increase in calls was for fitness and health clubs (400% increase). The reason given was that some people needed a place to go for a quick shower.

We know the callers used the phone book to find these businesses because of our call tracking ability. We provide each business in the program with a unique local telephone number that only appears in the printed yellow pages directory. Then, whenever anyone calls that telephone number, we know for sure they found it in the yellow pages.

We will need another week or so to determine the impact to call volume from this latest storm. However, it should not be a surprise if the yellow pages pull through for the residents of New York and New England, again.

Comments

  1. Dan Capwell says

    Well, at least it was original content and not some regurgitated piece from an “expert” no one ever heard of!
    Seriously though that has to be about one of the worst positioning strategies I have ever read. “Sure no one uses PYP anymore, Mr. Customer, until that blizzard/earthquake/zombie apocalypse comes, then usage really spikes! So keep that ad and hope some disaster befalls your community.”

    • Marion JacobsonMarion Jacobson says

      Ha! Not a positioning strategy, actually. It’s an explanation of just one of the ways print directories provide value. But in a zombie apocalypse, you could always use the yellow pages to wrap up your arms to protect them from getting bitten, like Brad Pitt did in World War Z! Just make sure you’ve got the duct tape too.

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