Don't get sucked into an oversimplified WORKS / DOESN'T WORK thought process about any given advertising medium. It's not a question of "Is it worth it anymore? It is a question of "Can I make it work for my business?"
Clearly, it is still working for SOME businesses in SOME industries, unless 100% of phone book advertisers are losing money and not tracking their results at all. But, assuming some of the advertisers are actually tracking ROI (return on investment) of their phone book ads, then it IS possible to make it work in some situations.
If you think Yellow Pages/other phone books are worth testing for your market, be sure you include the following elements in your ad, so that it is effective, and so that you can track its results. Then, be sure to track all your inbound leads, including phone book ads, and compare not just the sales to the cost of the ad, but the profits from those sales. Remember, we're in business for profits, not topline sales.
Elements to include in a phone book ad:
* Clear headline that attracts your exact target market and compels them to stop and read your ad
* A compelling, exciting offer that is only offered to phone book readers, AND which is described as being only for phone book users (this allows you to track the ad performance/ROI, and also gives readers something "special/unique" they can not get anywhere else)
* Clear instructions on how to respond to the offer - email, phone, website, mail, physical location, etc.
* Testimonial from a happy customer, preferably with that person's full name, city, age, occupation, etc. (makes it more credible - make sure you have the person's testimonial release signed and on file so you don't get in trouble)
* Make your ad about the customer and "What's In It For Them". Don't make it about you, your company, or your product/service.
Phone book ads are not the "must have" for all businesses that they were 20 or 30 years ago. But, they can be effective in certain industries and for certain demographics. Don't rule them out totally until you have measured the ROI against other marketing you are doing... (That goes for anything you are considering in advertising/marketing.)
The bottom line message is this ....
It depends.... on your target audience!!!! For example the 60+ audience in some markets tend to use traditional "old school" media outlets; therefore, the Yellow Pages, bill boards, print newspapers should still be considered. Social media doesn't reach all audiences.
Point - successful marketing campaigns need to reach your target customer ... where they are ... not where you are.