Feature articles

17 November 2017

The death of the Yellow Pages and the rise of Shirley Temple

Marketing and promotions feature | PPC89 November 2017

Death of the yellow pages

Telephone, telephone table, family address book, pen pot (complete with an assortment of random pens) and The Yellow Pages. These are what greeted most people entering their households during the 80s, 90s and even the early part of the 00s. My, how times have changed… 

Marketing and Communications Manager, Ben Massey, looks at how pest management companies can advertise smarter in a post-trade directory world.

We all know that the Yellow Pages was, for many, the only directory for finding a trade, product or service. And, you know what, it worked very well.

With the rise in digital technology – Google, social media and the dreaded ‘reviews’ sites – long gone are the days when advertising in the Yellow Pages demanded an ever-increasing annual fee. Long gone are those staff meetings in which you spend hours pondering over an extra £250 for three colours in your advertisement, or even a double column spread. Kapow!

Don’t get me wrong, printed listings still have a place in promoting your business, and will be a reliable source of referrals for a particular segment of your domestic market, but I’m convinced referrals will not increase in direct proportion to pounds spent.

Now, two years out from the year 2020, advertising and promotion are all about targeting, segmentation, and, well, customer service – some things never change.

Unless you pick the right advertising options, the risk is that you broadcast (and spend) everywhere. This will not help you achieve that all-important sweetspot concerning money out: business in.

Targeting and segmentation

Find out where your customers are coming from, and record it. Record how much the job was for, and also match the customer to a specific profile.

For instance, if it’s a middle-aged working mother, you know that they are time-poor, likely to be technologically-friendly and heavy on review statistics. These people do not visit a restaurant without a glance at Trip Advisor first!

Build a persona for who this customer is, and decide if are they profitable for you. Heck, we used a persona affectionately nicknamed ‘Shirley Temple’ to build a large chunk of our new site – guess where the majority of referrals come into our office from. That’s right, our Shirley.

Using a selection of personas you’ll build up a bank of 4-6 weeks’ worth of ‘data’ and gain a good grasp of where the domestic and minor commercial incomes come from. Common sense suggests you spend a little more targeting your most profitable customers, and a lot less elsewhere.

Where to promote?

For the price of a three-colour, double column ad in Yellow Pages (in 1995) you can:

Put a press release in the local paper

Just joined BPCA or achieved CEPA Certified® status? Build a press release and send it to the local paper just as you enter a particular season.

Spend some time on Facebook

Social media pages boost your website search, allow people to recommend your page to friends/contacts and also enable you to show people what you’re up to. Trying to sell through your page can be tough, and some people’s pages turn to noise with all the offers and promotions. Educate your followers, make pest control interesting.

Try a paid social media advert

Paid-for targeted advertising can be really useful. You can get seen by people who haven’t ever heard about you. If you have your ‘Shirley Temple’ defined with interests and demographics, social advertising allows you to home in aggressively. Set a small budget to start with and check that your advert is doing well. You can always add to your budget later or try something different instead.

Boost for BPCA referrals

Next year, members will benefit from an enhanced profile on the BPCA website with development to our Find a Pest Controller tool. This allows you and your company to showcase what you’re about in a brief, professional manner.

Consider building a few powerful sentences to go on now. It’s free for members, but no double page column like Yellow Pages on this one I’m afraid!

Take a crash course in search engine optimisation

A day on an SEO YouTube video, or even better, an afternoon from an SEO expert should boost your search rankings tenfold.

Word-of-mouth, still the cheapest, still the best

Word-of-mouth is as powerful today as it has ever been, but now it’s public. This includes the recent ‘looking for recommendations’ in development on Facebook.

Deliver a quality service, give good customer service, and your promotion will be done for you. Google My Business, Facebook, Which Trusted Trader and YELP all host review mechanisms, and a positive review on one of these is worth £££ when it comes to promotion.

Recently, a member told me he makes a courtesy telephone call 48 hours after each job, which prompts the vast majority to positively review his Facebook page. It’s simple, proactive and free!

Even more important, should you get a negative review it’s so vital to fix it publicly. “I’m sorry to hear that you’re unhappy with the service we provided. Please call us, and I will personally be there to get this resolved for you.” This shows integrity as well as professionalism.

Other ways in which you can achieve that public word of mouth is by leaving some print media which educates the customer about the pest, and how they can guard against this issue happening again (check out the new BPCA Printshop).

As we head into a new membership year, it’s important we offer members something fresh, something that helps a business succeed. We wanted to give something that helps those without in-house marketing professionals to save money.

Before you jump into your (sign-written) van, remember to record your customer persona and schedule a follow-up call in 48 hours’ time. Don’t forget to get some postcards into neighbouring houses and businesses.

This is where print media comes into its own. You’ve identified an issue in the vicinity (awareness raised), fixed it (brand built) and also offered a competitive discount should they discover an issue.

What’s more, you’re a BPCA member, and it’s shown on the postcard. Being part of a professional body is a key consideration for some of your personas.


Why not consider advertising in the award-winning PPC magazine? Contact marketing@bpca.org.uk

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Ben-Massey-Staff-bubbleBen Massey
Marketing and Communications Manager

16 November 2017  |  PPC89

Source: PPC89