Paving Contractors

Are Yellow Pages Ads Worth Your Dollars?

By:  Allan Heydorn
Created: August 27, 2012
For years the two most-common ways to reach buyers of pavement maintenance services were ads in local newspapers and ads in the Yellow Pages. This was especially true for contractors pursuing residential driveway work, but Yellow Pages were also an important link between property managers and contractors -- after all, where else could property managers turn?
Well, those days are long gone, and a look at the Yellow Pages business itself shows just how far they've fallen. According to the Wall Street Journal there were four publishers pursuing the Yellow Pages market 10 years ago -- today there are only two impact firms and those two (Dex One Corp. and SuperMedia Inc.) recently decided to merge. Their stocks, of course, rose on the news but the Yellow Pages market doesn't look that strong. The Journal reports spending on Yellow Pages ads in the United States has declined to $8.6 billion in 2011 from a 2005 peak of $14.2 billion (with digital sales accounting for about 25% of total sales).
So where does our industry stand? Are paving & pavement maintenance contractors part of the declining trend or are they some of the last hold outs, supporting this marketing approach that for the longest time was key to marketing?
Let us know where you fit in. Do you use Yellow Pages? If not, why not? If you do, let us know how effective they've been for you.
Response from President Larry Angove:
Allan Heydorn:
In your August 27 post on For Construction, you posed the following question:
“So where do [the Paving and Pavement Maintenance contractors] stand?  Are [we] part of the declining trend in Yellow Pages marketing or are [we] some of the last holdouts, supporting the marketing approach that for the longest time was key to [our] marketing?”
Before I share specific research data in answer to your question, let me first address some of the assumptions in the post that preceded the question.
Ten years ago there were hundreds of Yellow Pages publishers and today they still number in the triple digits.
Yellow Pages references are in decline, but it’s critically important to understand why.  The popular belief that “everyone’s online” is simply untrue.
The “why” is two-fold.  First, consumer need for business information is unchanged.  What has changed is that the rich data found nearly exclusively throughout the 20th century in the print phone book is now available via multiple platforms.  Second, the decline in references in 2008-09 was falsely interpreted as evidence that everything was moving online.  The reality is that the economy had much more to do with the numbers than did migration to new platforms.  People who are unable or unwilling to buy during a recession have no reason to use the Yellow Pages.  See below on this point.
The research data from CRM Associates for the heading Paving Contractors proves that for advertisers who maintain a strong Yellow Pages presence in their media mix, this traditional marketing resource remains effective and financially justified.
Let me repeat the Paving Contractor-specific findings I shared in my brief post on LinkedIn.
  • Cost per Customer Influenced                             $      46
  • Average Customer Value                                      $ 1,589
  • Revenue to YP Expense Ratio                                   35:1
  • Gross Profit to YP Expense Ratio                               10:1
Here are some additional conclusions found in the data.
  • All Contractor-related heading combined have a 52% share of category  advertising expenditures
  • The Paving Contractors heading has a 4% share of overall spending
  • The Internet is not yet used significantly by the industry for marketing
  • Approximately 600,000 consumers used your heading in 2011
  • Usage is greatest for consumers over the age of 65
  • Usage is highest in B- and C-sized counties (Most ADP publisher members thrive in medium- and smaller-sized markets)
  • 72% of consumers shopping for Paving Contractors used the Yellow Pages
  • 78% of shoppers made a purchase
  • 80% of purchasers are new customers
  • Yellow Pages is the leading medium used to find Paving Contractors (Yellow Pages – 27%; Online – 21.3%; Direct Mail – 14.1%; and Internet Yellow Pages – 11.9 %.)
Consider also these general facts about Yellow Pages usage.
  • Yellow Pages usage has increased for three consecutive years, including a  whopping 18% in 2011
  • Three-quarters of adult Americans used the print Yellow Pages last year
  • Yellow Pages are used the most by Baby Boomers and Mature generation
  • This 50-year old+ demographic holds 75% of the wealth and 50% of the purchasing power in the country.
I could go on, but I trust that at this point, you already agree that the data emphatically suggests the Yellow Pages should be a major part of the media mix for every Paving Contractor.