In my role as a business coach, my clients often ask me if they should spend the time and money to be listed in this directory or that trade show book or some magazine's "Marketplace" section.
Here's the answer for YOU and YOUR business if you've ever wondered the same thing.
But first, remember the Yellow Pages?
Their old tagline was "Let Your Fingers Do the Walking."
It was more convenient - in the 1960's and 1970's - to use the Yellow Pages and your rotary phone to find out what you needed to know about local businesses than to literally walk from store to store or office to office.
Check out this sign and you'll see where this tale starts to unravel:
Photo credit: Rolando Pujol
Yes, you can find Tony's One Hour Cleaners in the Yellow Pages.
Along with Sam's One Hour Cleaners, Jiffy Dry Cleaning, and dozens of other competitors all over town. This was great for consumers up until about 1992 when the web took over much of this same functionality (and multiplied its marketing power by about 1000-fold.)
And it's pretty dumb for business owners today.
Why? Because the moment you're "in the book" - you're a commodity.
You are ACTIVELY inviting your prospects, customers, clients and influencers to comparison-shop your ad vs. their ad. Your listing vs. their listing. Your trade show booth vs. their trade show booth.
And don't even get me started on trade show exhibiting. Unless you're in the top 5% of folks who TRULY know what they're doing, exhibiting at a trade show is nothing more than endless days of exhaustion, massive expense and being proactively ignored by people walking rapidly to the back of the exhibit center to get their bagel while working insanely hard to avoid eye contact with you and your staff at all costs.
As I share in my small business marketing seminars, we're living in an ATTENTION economy. Meaning, first you must earn your prospect's attention. And only then do you get the chance to earn their money.
And these days, it's damn difficult to earn anyone's attention with a BIGGER ad, a BOLDER directory listing, or a SPLASHIER banner.
Nobody cares. Truly. So give it up.
The expiration date on that strategy has come and gone like a bucket of old yogurt.
Today, you can save all that money and put it toward creating resources, tools and content that your target market will VALUE, will KEEP and will SHARE.
Am I nuts? Is directory advertising still working for YOU?
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