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Welcome the first new post from Buffalo Wired on our new website! Let’s blast right into it. What do you think about phonebook advertising? Wow! I can hear the groans from here!

Ok…let’s pay homage where it’s due. In 1878, two years after Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, the first telephone book was published. Actually, it was a single sheet that listed some residents and businesses in New Haven, Connecticut…no phone numbers were included.

Well, that’s all the time we have for history; fast-forward 100 years. We all know what the phonebook grew into. A printer’s dream found in every home and business. And, most every business bought a listing or ad space. For over a century, the phonebook sat there getting fatter and happier. People even found additional uses for them. Booster seats for kids, door stops, and a test of great strength for those who tore them in half with their bare hands.

Yes, the phonebook had quite a heyday, that is, until the Internet emerged. Slowly, the phonebook and other print behemoths like catalogs and newspapers, were brought to their knees. They are still with us, they’re just not as fat…or happy.

All sales and marketing indicators show that the way people look for local businesses has changed. Searching for particular services on Google, Bing, Yahoo and other major Internet search engines is replacing “looking it up” in the phonebook. With smart phones like the iPhone, Droid, and Thunderbolt…and tablets like the iPad and Xoom…search engines are always at our fingertip. People search where to go and who to call as they are on the move!

Stay tuned for upcoming posts on search engine optimization for strategies that can place you among the top ranks in local search results for people looking for your services.

Should you continue with traditional phonebook advertising? Each business is different. Certainly, we can make a case for those who serve in emergency situations. If say, during a storm you lose internet access and need electrical or furnace repair, the phonebook will be your best friend. Until the guy comes to fix your furnace, then he’ll be your new best friend.

These questions don’t leave much wiggle room.

Hopefully, you have been tracking your leads and sales from the phonebook, so which of these questions best describe your investment return?

  • Profitable return? (making money above your ad costs)
  • Reasonable return? (breaking even with your ad costs with returning customers likely)
  • Any return? (less return than ad costs or zero return)

Your answer should help you decide how beneficial your phonebook investment is.

Maybe the best indicator is your own behavior. How often do you use the phonebook to find a local business or local resident? Do you use it more or less than you search the internet for local stores, restaurants, florists, doctors, etc.?

Year after year, if small businesses wanted to be found beyond word of mouth or visibility in a neighborhood, the phonebook was a popular option. Now, you have options for global visibility. What’s right for your business growth? Contact Buffalo Wired for help making the most sensible choice.

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