Posted Tuesday, February 8, 2005
Stand Out in Ways that Matter to Directory Users A Yellow Page directory presents a difficult challenge for advertisers. All the competitors are packed together, within the space of a few pages. Each ad within the directory category screams "Notice me!" so insistently, they blend into an muffled chorus. It's not easy for one to stand out with a clear, distinctive voice - like a soloist above the choir. That only happens when the business is clear about expressing its unique "song," and understands what buyers most want to hear.
It isn't surprising that most Yellow Page ads say pretty much the same thing. They were all prepared by the same directory employees. What do they know about marketing? About copywriting? About what's unique and desirable about your enterprise?
The people making the ads "grind them out," using the same templates and guidelines for every ad, in every category. Originality isn't in their job description. Following the formulas for how an ad "should look" is a formula for being ignored.
These quick fixes cut away the bland sameness afflicting most ads. Disregard for now the related issues like the ad's size and placement. Such factors just amplify (or diminish) an ad's impact. A poor ad is still a poor ad, even if it's very large. Coupled with fine-tuned copy (its own topic), these fixes will improve the impact of any size of ad, for any directory heading.
Try these Quick and Easy Fixes
You don't have to be a designer or copywriter to make your ad stand out. You just have to understand your customers' unstated wants, so you supply precisely the information that they're looking for. And you need to know how you're different than your competitors. Set yourself apart, so you don't fade into the background, as most ads do.
1. Shrink the business name. That is NOT the most important part of the ad in the reader's mind. And it crowds out the space for information that that could sell them on you. Once you can get them to want you, they'll be able to find your name and contact information OK.
2. Ditto, shrink the graphics. They may be helpful to catch the eye initially, but add nothing to what directory users want to know. Images often distract from the ad's message, wasting its moment of attention on trivialities.
3. Provide a headline that hooks the readers' interest (the category or business name isn't one, but most ads act like it is). A strong, emotionally-charged headline pulls attention into the rest of the information. It makes people stop skimming and actually read. Provide a promise that hits their hot button in a way that applies only to you (but not every other competitor in the category)
4. Make the location easy to find. Half of all directory users scan ads for the business location first, and then only consider those ads which are convenient. Location of the enterprise overrides an ad's size or placement in the directory.
5. Display your expertise, along with a reason for buyers to seek out your specialized knowledge. Offer a booklet, class, in-depth information on your Web site, etc. This also establishes your credibility in customers' eyes, which is crucial to building sufficient trust to complete a purchase.
6. Buyers are hunting for information that can assist in making a purchase. When they open the directory, they're hoping to find a business that in some way communicates, "I'm the one you're looking for." Make it easy for them to know it's you, by giving ample information directed at their concerns. Organize it in bulleted lists.
7. Add your Web site address (domain name) and/or email address. Treat your Web site as a place to expand the size of your Yellow Page ad. Then state a reason why a person wants to check your site: (http://www.mysite.com) for 23 simple ways to keep your dog from over-eating Or (http://www.myrestaurant.com) for recipes to our award-winning desserts.
8. Arrange it all so the information flows logically, and to please the eye.
9. Eliminate images or phrases that appear in the other ads. Find a different, more interesting way to express it.
10. Don't let the directory do your ad for free. It will end up costing you too much.
The Ideal Yellow Page Ad
The very best ad is the intersection between what a buyer is looking for, and what a business provides. When a business is attuned to its customers' priorities and needs, it can say exactly what rings their bell. For example, a harried mother will respond with relief to the phrase, "Free Childcare Provided." That service carries no weight with a business person, who may consider "No extra charge for weekend service calls" the clincher.
What really makes an ad stand out is the specifics, not the generalities (which is what every other ad says). Visit www.yellowpagesage.com for advice from many experts about getting more mileage from your ad. Or obtain a customized critique of your ad, that eliminates the guesswork about what needs fixing.
Directory users are ready to buy. Simplify their lives by making your products and services so "just right" that choosing you is their only sensible choice.
About the Author
--Dr. Lynella Grant, an expert in visual communication. How printed materials send signals that strengthen or undo the words. Author, The Business Card Book & Yellow Page Smarts (http://www.yellowpagesage.com) Off the Page Press (719) 395-9450