DOA: The Digital Demise of Yellow Pages Advertising

By Kathy Roy Gaughran
Senior Marketing Strategist

rotary dial telephoneAre printed YP directories still relevant?

Judging by the less-than-usual clutter under the desk, the Yellow Pages (and similar printed directories) have all but vanished from American communications culture. When was the last time you saw a rotary dial phone, telephone landline or even a corner phone booth?

Some marketing “old-timers” (anyone over the age 25) may recall the time when the good and faithful printed Yellow Pages were a fundamental part of every doctor’s advertising effort. Sometimes it was the entire external marketing plan. Everyone in the service area had at least one directory at hand. And everyone would “let their fingers do the walking” to locate some needed resource via the big, fat YP book.

But despite the relentless digital march of progress—the Internet, iPhones, Facebook and countless online look-up resources—some phone books and printed directories still survive. And what’s more curious is that some doctor’s haven’t bother to change…their YP expense is still on their books.

Checking the pulse of a (possibly) dead horse…

  1. If a faulty memory, simple oversight (or maybe nostalgia) are the only reasons that you still have (and are paying for) a print directory ad, it’s probably wise to reallocate your budget to a viable and effective marketing resource.
  1. Printed directories have been losing ground, and largely disappearing, for years. But where YP can still be found, consumer research says that users are likely to:
  • Reside in smaller, rural areas
  • Have a high school education or less
  • Have an annual income of less than $40,000
  • Have limited access to a computer, the Internet or broadband
  • Be among the Baby Boomer demographic group

If this user profile overlaps with your target audience, calculate your Return-on-Investment (ROI).

  1. If you’ve been diligent about tracking actual response, a YP with a positive ROI may be appropriate to keep (for now). And if it’s not working…well, you know…

What to do when the reinvented directory salesman calls…

Some time ago the folks in the print-and-paper directory publishing industry recognized that those hard copy “big books” were being eaten by the Internet and online consumer search. They’re struggling to create a new persona, and why there’s a salesman calling to up-sell you from print directory to something digital.

Although moving out of ineffective and often expensive print directories could be the smart thing to do, it makes sense to thoroughly explore your marketing options. It makes sense to reach out to an agency resource that truly understands online marketing, and not simply switch to keep your contract with the re-invented YP alive.

We can help. If you’d like a no cost review of your Yellow Pages, give us a call at 800-656-0907.

If you stick with print directory advertising there are ways to be efficient and not a complete waste of resources. And if you need to move to a stronger online presence, there are dozens of local search directories and related considerations to assure effectiveness and success.

Kathy Gaughran

Kathy Roy Gaughran
Senior Marketing Strategist at Healthcare Success
In her career, Kathy has helped over 4,000 clients all over North America achieve their growth goals. As an award-winning strategic marketing planner, Kathy has been involved in both the high-level strategies required for long-term sustainability, plus the tactical execution used to accomplish the day-to-day successes. Kathy’s clients include practices with annual revenues well over $10 million and with annual marketing budgets up to $900,000. In addition, Kathy is an accomplished speaker, appearing at countless national, local and state healthcare associations. Kathy is a member of the American Marketing Association and The Direct Marketing Association.



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