Apparently internet marketers like us aren’t the only ones who wonder why you still get a new yellow pages book every year even if you don’t ask for it. In San Francisco, a town often noted for being the first place to pass interesting legislation, the Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 in May to prohibit the distribution of yellow pages except to residents or businesses that want them and have “opted-in.”
Did California get it right this time?
Let’s be honest, it’s 2011 and with the strain on our global resources doesn’t it make sense to limit the unnecessary use of large quantities of materials unless they are really needed? So while California takes their “green” living a little more seriously than a lot of areas, we have to at least applaud the effort to curtail businesses from handing out huge books that a lot of people don’t want or need anymore.
NEED is probably the operative word in this movement. I remember a few years ago having a smaller yellow pages book in my truck and thinking it was a cool idea to make the book portable so I could find something while on the road. But after the last 2 years who DOESN’T have a mobile friendly phone with the ability to “Google” anything you want from the intersection of your choosing (hopefully while at a stop light)?
This trend toward being digitally mobile will have greater effects than just limiting the distribution of the yellow pages. But the reality is many businesses will have to face what they’ve probably known for years – that relying on advertising in print publications isn’t going to be enough to effectively market their businesses.
The yellow pages have historically been a tool for driving local marketing efforts. So what can businesses do to replace that type of exposure? Here are a few tips for the digital age:
- Claim your “local” business listings on Google, Yahoo & Bing
- Participate in other local directories such as Merchant Circle or Insider Pages
- List your business on review sites like Yelp or Angie’s List
- Optimize your website for local areas and phrases
- Invest in a mobile friendly website
- Learn about new trends in text message marketing
Is the newspaper next?
Every Thursday the local newspaper throws a “freebie” paper in my driveway even though I’m not a paying customer. I guess they are hoping that I’ll see it, flip through it and maybe become convinced enough to become a subscriber. They had better not do this in San Francisco or the newspaper might be next on the list!
Over the weekend, I had an interesting discussion with my 53 year old neighbor who still “takes the paper.” The topic was the newspaper, and how long we thought newspapers would still be tossed in driveways across America. Watching what’s happening with the internet and mobile devices, it’s hard to imagine that newspapers in their current form last more than another 20 years or so.
And while I have no doubt that the news organizations behind them will last longer than that and serve a critical role in each local community, I’m convinced that the process of delivering their news via paper, trucks and people will evolve sooner rather than later.
We’ll just keep an eye on San Francisco to see when they make newspapers illegal next!