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Phone Books are Dead

The prediction that phone books would be gone forever has been around for a decade.  Are they dead yet?  I say yes.  That doesn’t mean that they aren’t around or being published, it just means that they don’t actually DO anything related to their intended purpose.

Business hope that their advertisement will drive new business to their doors, but I’ve found that is rarely the case.  Most small business owners have abandoned the phone books entirely – they have small budgets and have to be frugal.  The businesses who remain are those who have deeper pockets and not a clue as to whether or not their advertisement is profitable.

When was the last time you opened a phone book?  I’ll bet it has been years, unless you have an ad in one – then you would be one of the few cracking them open just to see what your ad looks like.

The funny thing is, there are still arguments that they still work.  How can they?

  • The White Pages listings shrink exponentially year by year as people dump their land lines and rely solely on their cell phones.
  • The Yellow Pages advertisements continue to shrink as well, leaving only a few advertisers in each category.  If you’re looking for a dentist, do you really want to look in the place with the fewest ads?
  • The information is outdated the minute it goes to print.  Think print encyclopedias.  Mine still had pre-Soviet era maps and a technology section that ended with the invention of the micro chip.
  • We’re used to going online to learn stuff and find information.  To resort to a phone book to find a telephone number or business location is as useful as trying to find a pay phone to use to call that number.

But the salespeople are still out in force using the tired old arguments “It’s so much more economical than radio or TV” or “your competitors are in there, do you want to be the only one left out?”

Because radio or TV may be more of a waste than a phone book advertisement, does that mean the phone book is a good idea because its less of a waste?

Because everyone else is doing it.. does that mean that you should trust their lack of ability to gauge its effectiveness and just follow suit?

Being a once a year publication means that you have one chance to get it right.  No testing, split testing, etc.  One chance.  Online we can test hundreds of ads in a week and make them more profitable each time.  No guessing, no hoping.

The sales people say phone books are still alive and well.  No, they’re dead alright, just lurking in the shadows, in garbage dumps, in recycle bins, used as door stops and a number of creative uses – none of them remotely relating to their intended purpose.

About the author

Dane Shakespear helps Residential Treatment Centers, Boarding Schools, and Troubled Teen Programs attract more qualified leads, convert them into paying clients and deliver a better product by doing more of what works and less of chasing shiny objects. Dane works with owners and executives who are tired of relegating the lifeblood of their business - their marketing and sales flow to 3rd party geeks and charlatans.

About Me

About Me
I am a former owner and founder of an Anti-Terrorist, Cargo Tracking Software company for airlines.

I have spent my career leveraging marketing, technology & psychologyto promote high-end services.

For the last 13 years I have focused my work on Business Development for Residential Treatment Centers, and Global Product Development.

Essential Books

80/20 Sales and Marketing Book Cover
80/20 Sales and Marketing
August 3, 2019
Trust Me I'm Lying Book Cover
Trust Me I’m Lying – Confessions of a Media Manipulator
July 30, 2019
Blue Ocean Strategy Book Cover
Blue Ocean Strategy
June 6, 2019

What They Say

“He rebranded our company, fixed our marketing, and got us noticed and absorbed by an Italian manufacturer. He knows his stuff.”
– Ray Lopez, Blackhawk Armory


“As a direct result of Dane’s insights and intuition we are generating an additional $350,000 per year that we would have never seen.” – Joel Bauer


“I’ve worked Dane on several of my projects over the past 15 years and can confidently say he knows how to compete in tough markets.” – Martin Howey


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