Consumers routinely reach for the Yellow Pages to call a plumber 'right now.' You can keep those calls coming afterward.

Full page? Half page. Double truck? No, maybe a "tip-on" on the front cover? Back cover? Full page with one color. What about position? How do I know where my ad will be in the next book? What works? How do I know?

Most plumbing companies rely on the Yellow Pages as their main source for calls. Residential plumbing service is considered a demand service, which means that it is driven by consumers needing service quickly. And most often they are going to turn to the Yellow Pages for a plumber.

It works - well, most of the time. Let's take a look at three steps to get the most out of advertising in the Yellow Pages:


Assess your Yellow Pages advertising by looking at what you are doing now. How well is your current ad working? Do you really know how well it is working?

Unless you record every call from that particular ad on that particular page in that particular book, you will not have accurate data. So supposing your deadline isn't tomorrow, coach your call-takers into asking where the customer saw your number.

Many companies assume their returning customers don't use the Yellow Pages, but I know they do. And if your ad is hard to find, they may call your competitor, even if they were satisfied with your service.

Ask which book, and which page number. You may be surprised which ads pull more calls. Just think: If your most expensive ad isn't working, and you could drop it, wouldn't it be worth having the data to make that decision?

Next, calculate your cost per call. If you've received 64 calls over a five-month period and your monthly cost of the ad was $500, your cost per call is $39.06 ($500 x 5 divided by 64). Compare that to the average revenue of those calls, and you'll have a picture of how well your ad is doing.

Of course, if you can use a longer time frame, you'll have a more accurate picture. If your cost per call is 30 percent of your average revenue, then a change is necessary. If it is 10 percent or under, then your ad is working well.


If you are pleased with how well your ad is working and would like more business in the area the book covers, plan to improve the ad. Possible improvements to the ad include the following:
    1. Increase position by buying a bigger size.

    2. Be different. If everyone has black on yellow, try black on white, also called a white knockout.

    3. Improve the design by hiring a graphic designer who specializes in Yellow Pages design.

    4. Say something different in your ads. Be unique. If you do something your competitors aren't mentioning, then say it. Say it big.

    5. Add color.

    6. Buy a premium position, such as the front cover or the spine of the book.


Be proactive with your Yellow Pages rep. Don't let them contact you and tell you the book closes tomorrow, and you have to have your ad in today. Have your information ready and know what you want. Ask them for several different scenarios. Get prices from them and ask for discounts. You may get substantial discounts for increasing your overall spending, for advertising in a new section or for being the first advertiser in a new section. Ask if they have any current promotions.

Sure, they should be telling you, but maybe they forgot. If you could save a few hundred dollars a year or a month, it is worth asking for any discount you can get. I don't believe in beating up the rep. Otherwise they may not be as quick to share information about an upcoming promotion. They may save it for your competitor whom they also work with.