Yellow Page Ad Design Blunders – The 8 Deadly Sins You MUST Avoid!

By John Morana

Ok, you realize that print Yellow Page advertising is STILL a very powerful way to reach your local prospects. You’ve also learned that you can’t rely on the publishers’ overworked Yellow Page ad designers. Those poor souls have to crank out 20 or so Yellow Page ads a day! How much time can they spend on your Yellow Page ad design? More importantly, how much could they possibly know about your business other than its category?

YOU must take charge! Prospects don’t call categories; they don’t even call businesses; they call solutions.

Successful Yellow Page ads are ones that uniquely and believably speak to prospects’ needs.

Avoiding the following 8 crucial DONT’S will help ensure that your Yellow Page ad is the one readers’ call.

  • Your Business Name Is Still Your Yellow Page Ad Headline.

    Stop it Already! After 100 years, you’d think Yellow Page advertisers would’ve gotten it by now. But take a gander in your directory and sure ‘nuff, the majority of advertisers STILL use their business name as their Yellow Page ad headline.

    Look, your prospect has a problem. The solution to their problem is nowhere to be found in your name, your logo or even your photo. Prospects really don’t care about who you are! They only want to know who can best solve their problem. Place your name and logo near the bottom of your Yellow Page ad design, along with your other contact information. That’s where they belong, so place them there!

  • Hey, I’ve Got a Hole at the Top of My Yellow Page Ad Design!

    You’ve moved your business name down below, EXCELLENT! In its place, you must now develop and insert the most powerful headline you can muster. Run it at the very top of your Yellow Page ad design. Run it BIG and run it BOLD.

    If your headline is pretty good, your prospect may want to continue reading. If it’s REALLY good, they won’t have much choice. That’s the mark of a truly great headline. It promises a unique benefit that sets you apart from all the rest in a meaningful way. It tells prospects… this business cares about me, they understand my dilemma… THIS is the company I should call!

    To create your headline, block out the entire world and imagine that YOU are the prospect facing the problem. What are your feelings? What’s most important to you at this moment in need? Only when you’re able to tap into your prospects’ inner thoughts and feelings, will you be able to craft an effective headline that truly resonates with your target audience. If you spend 10 hours on your Yellow Page ad design, devote 6 hours to your headline. Trust me, it will be well worth your time.

  • You’ve Got Such A Colorful Yellow Page Ad, It’s Going To Just Fly Off The Page! It’s true that a colorful ad MAY attract more attention than a single color ad BUT that doesn’t necessarily mean it will get “more phone calls”. The only thing a brightly colored Yellow Page ad will do for sure is create an incredibly loud sucking sound near your wallet. Color doesn’t persuade prospects to call you; the MESSAGE in your Yellow Page ad persuades prospects to call.

    If you’re determined to maximize your ROI, forget about color! Instead, concentrate on your MESSAGE and the overall effectiveness of your Yellow Page ad design.

  • Your Yellow Page Ad Design Talks To Everyone, Now EVERYONE Will Call You… Right? Are you speaking to everyone, trying to sell everything? Your competitors have fallen into the same trap… they’re shouting the same words and images to EVERYONE. And in trying to sell to everyone, they end up persuading no one.

    Don’t compete with everyone else in your category! Instead, carve a “unique place” in the market and reap massive market share.

    Here’s an example: Mr. Everybody is a plumber who, like everyone, wants to attract as many customers as possible. He proudly lists 35 different services in his Yellow Pages ad design. You name it, he does it… from plugged sinks to total bathroom remodels. Now along comes Mr. Waterheater. This wise plumber decided that he wanted to attract “EVERY water heater replacement” prospect in his town, so he designed a very compelling ad that does just that. It speaks ONLY to the person whose water heater has just sprung a major leak.

    How did these two plumbers fare? Unfortunately, Mr. Everybody’s Yellow Page ad didn’t attract everybody because his ad (like all the others) spoke to NO ONE powerfully. No one paid attention.

    On the other hand, Mr. Waterheater’s tightly targeted Yellow Page ad connected powerfully with his single target audience. Mr. Waterheater’s prospects felt the same way. In fact, he attracted so many water heater projects that he can now afford to take out a second ad in the Plumbing heading. This time around, he’s decided to target “EVERY sewer replacement” prospect in his town! Savvy Mr. Waterheater understands the awesome power of prospect targeting.

    When you tightly focus your Yellow Page ad on your most desired customers, it will attract and persuade that audience more successfully than ANY other ad in your heading. In other words, you’ll have eliminated the competition. Pretty cool, huh?

  • Body Copy? Nah, In The Yellow Pages All I Need Are Easy-To-Read Bullet Points! Wrong! Bullet points do a great job of listing features, but they generally do not speak to clients felt needs and concerns – these aren’t easily bulleted items. But most customers are looking for a company that they can ‘feel’ the best about calling and doing business with. If you want to be that business, you’ll need copy that addresses the prime concerns of the prospect and that helps build confidence and trust.

    Make no mistake; bullet points are good for outlining your services. BUT, you also need persuasive copy that enhances and substantiates the unique headline concept you spent so much time developing. Be concise, speak clearly and explain how you’re different from the rest. Use descriptive words that have a little shock value, not the generic (boring) copy used by all the others. Speak to your prospects in a positive, friendly tone, as if they’re standing right there in front of you. And, toss out all that self-absorbed WE, WE, WE copy.

    Remember, it’s all about THEM! So make it… YOU, YOU, YOU!

  • I Run A Package Shipping Service… See All My Pretty Boxes? Yeah, your boxes are really nice. But hey, wait a minute! All the OTHER shipping service ads have pretty boxes too. So much for setting yourself apart from your competitors. NEVER use “expected” images in your Yellow Pages ad. Obvious, generic images do not convey your “unique” benefits to prospects. They only put you on the same playing field as all the rest.

    The sole objective of your Yellow Page ad design is to grab the reader’s attention first, and to persuade them with a powerful message so that they call you. You can’t succeed by saying and showing the same things as all the others. Don’t feel bad, many Yellow Page advertisers (and novice ad designers) make this same mistake! It’s no surprise that so many businesses complain of poor response rates with their Yellow Pages advertising. Think about it from your prospects point of view. How will a pretty box differentiate you from all the others? How will it convey your most unique benefits? How will a box help motivate ANYONE to call you?

    You must choose “unexpected” images that jar peoples’ brain cells, set you apart from your competitors AND convey your unique benefits. Some may disagree and say… “But my pretty boxes tell people EXACTLY what my business is all about!” That’s unfortunate. If you own a package shipping service and the most unique BENEFITS you have to offer are shipping boxes, you may want to reconsider self-employment. Remember, your unexpected photograph or artwork MUST

    • Be an arresting, eye-grabbing image that…
    • Reinforces your unique headline concept (benefit) and…
    • Differentiates your business from the others, in a powerful and meaningful way.
  • Call to Action? I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Call To Action! It’s a proven fact that more people will take action if you TELL them exactly what to do. Tell them to call and be sure to include a darn good reason. Say “Call right now for your FREE no-obligation analysis!” And don’t bury your call to action, place it right above your phone number.

    Remember, prospects generally search the Yellow Pages because they are looking to give someone their business – by calling them! Make it easy for them to call you and give them a reason to call you , and they’ll call you. And isn’t that the goal?

  • My Artist Cousin Said He Can Design My Yellow Pages Ad.

    Expensive advertising is advertising that doesn’t work. An ineffective design will cost you far more in lost business than you’ll ever be able to save upfront. The Yellow Pages are a unique advertising medium and few people know how to create effective ads for it. Shop around for a specialist! Ask questions and get testimonials. Seek a genuine Yellow Page ad design expert with a solid track record of results.

    Warning: If an advertising professional also sells: Web site design, SEO services, logo design, brochures, illustration and marketing manuals, keep looking because they’re not Yellow Page direct response specialists. Sample their Yellow Page ads. Do they resemble the impotent concoctions that your Yellow Page publisher provides for FREE? If so, keep looking for a professional who adheres to the strategies you’ve just read. Then you can sit back and relax… you’ll be well on your way to Yellow Pages advertising success.