Yellow Pages Still Fail Online Marketing – Look At Me?

Yellow Pages Look At Me On The Yellow Pages Website

Recently Yellow Pages announced they could help businesses get found by creating new online marketing services available for those needing help with their online marketing. The ‘Look At Me‘ slogan on the TV advertising was annoyingly clever which prompted me to take a closer look.

Note: If you're looking for the Yellow Pages Look At Me TV Ad and want to skip all the rest, scroll to the bottom of this page.

For years I've been convinced like many others that yellow pages advertising is dead. Even sales representatives would admit they were too in love with their book as it was their primary business for so long. They have however taken far too long to adopt a good online strategy themselves, and for other business advertisers. So it was refreshing to see a recent TV advertisement saying Yellow Pages had now woken up. They were now helping businesses build their online presence.

I visited the yellow pages website today to look for the service;

Yellow Pages Look At Me On The Yellow Pages WebsiteBut there wasn't any information regarding the ad or the service. Ok, Sensis manages Yellow so I went on there to find the services…. no luck. So I thought, I know, it was an ad on TV, they would have uploaded this onto YouTube right?

Yellow Pages Look At Me On YouTube

ARGH! No results in the first page on YouTube. I remember in the ad they said they'll help get found on the search engines – AHA! I'll do a Google search.

Google Yellow Pages Look At Me

Goole Yellow Pages Look At Me Search Results

Nothing on the first page of Google for Yellow Pages Look At Me – but this was the 6th result;

Look at me look at me! Yellow Pages ad

Looks like I'm not the only one searching for the ad they've seen. How cool is that? Creating an ad and having people want to watch it – it's got all the makings of a viral video, shame it's so hard to find.

At this point I gave up and went and had some dinner. As it turns out, the ad came on TV so I paid close attention to it to try to get the information I needed to find these services that my business needs to get found, because Yellow could ensure now that I would get found, a bit like their Look At Me ad… (detect any sarcasm yet?). The final snippet of the ad gave a phone number with a web address of yellowadvertising.com.au – HOORAY. Now I can find out what the service is about.

Yellow Pages Marketing Made Easy

Awesome – there's the little guy on the page and icon on the website relating to the new online marketing services Yellow Pages has to offer.

Lets click on the Search Marketing image and find out more about those online services;

Yellow Pages Look At Me Online Enquiry Form

OMG WTF? I clicked on the search marketing icon and I got taken to the contact page. So I go back and click on Website Creation – SAME FORM! Not only am I not getting any relevant information for the service but I'm being asked to fill in an electronic form which has 14 required fields!!! Funnily enough, while I don't have to nominate my business website address (which is fair enough as I may not have one yet) I'm filling out an online form but apparently might not have an email address! It's not required!

OK so Yellow Pages can help (apparently) with the following;

  • Yellow Pages – Can't find the ad?
  • Website Creation – Still, no ad?
  • Search Marketing – No ad found on Google, only others looking for the ad?
  • Coupons & Offers
  • Tracking & Reports
  • Social Media – AH! Social media – now I should be able to find the ad or at least ask where to find it!

I run a search for Yellow Pages Australia on facebook.com and Tada! Here's the ad, finally!

It's also interesting to note; Yellow Pages joined Facebook around the start of June 2011 – AFTER they launched their TV advertising campaign stating they can help you get onto facebook (see the bottom comment on the image below).

Yellow Pages Joins Facebook

So looking at the ad there's the explanation why I couldn't find it on YouTube – It's tagged as ‘Marketing Made Easy: Yellow Pages'.

Ok, back into YouTube to look at their tags and why I couldn't find the ad. This is the result;

Yellow Pages Marketing Made Easy Tags On YouTube

Not one of the tags shown above is ‘look at me' even though ‘look at me' is repeated over and over in the ad and easily the most memorable tag line!

So what went wrong with the Yellow Pages Look At Me advertising and their online services and how can you avoid making these mistakes?

Web Design

Co-ordinate any offline media campaign with your online campaigns and ensure they're optimised. I can't imagine what the TV advertising budget is for this campaign but it's a serious amount of money. Before launch ensure the website has plenty of complimentary information relating to the ad and that it's easily found from your home page.

While you don't have to mention pricing, it's good to give a thorough breakdown of any new service or any advertised product you're offering. Your website should be easily manageable with a really good content management system (we utilise wordpress on every one of our sites for this reason). Your receptionist could be given the task to make quick updates to the website on a regular basis.

Where Yellow Pages failed with the web design

  • Offline ad difficult to find
  • Not on their primary website yellowpages.com.au
  • Small amount of real estate given on the yellowadvertising.com.au site
  • Severe lack of explanation of each service
  • Only one option to find out more, which was by phone call
  • Contact form demands too much information. A simple name, email address and phone number field would be sufficient.

Search Marketing

While the overall business plan might be targeting business searches you have to keep in mind your potential customers and how they might be looking for you. This ad is highly unlikely to be searched by someone typing ‘marketing made easy'.

Even yellowadvertising.com.au hasn't been optimised for these phrases and the page itself

Yellow Pages Meta Tags

Ensure your website is optimised correctly and compliments any offline or online campaign you're running.

Where Yellow Pages failed with the search marketing

  • Poor optimisation on their web page
  • Poor optimisation off the web page
  • Lack of distribution over multiple web services
  • Incorrect tags in YouTube

Social Media

It's a good idea to use social media in various ways, natural conversation is fantastic and engagement with your audience is critical. Yellow Pages didn't have a facebook page until after the launch of this product, but if they did they should have pre-empted the TV ad with a sneak preview on facebook and also mention it in twitter. Exclusive access via Facebook is a really clever way of rewarding followers which in turn promotes your product and is likely to increase fans. Fans refer others to your product both through online social media comments, but also in coversations at their party, workplace, dinners etc… Give followers something to talk about and they will!

Now, for those that would actually like to watch the Yellow Pages Look At Me advertisement;

 

  • I couldn’t agree more.
    Not only is the ad annoying with the parrot-like “Look At Me” ditty, I also thought the ad failed because it claims to help businesses get attention through various strategies, yet has not one reference to the essential detail of what to do about the unwitting prospects who do go looking (and find the business listing)… there is no suggested strategy for capturing and converting from prospect to buyer.

    You pointed out some good challenges – and it would be discouraging to any small business owner to discover that the advertising service couldn’t successfully manage its own advertising campaign.

    (I am a start up business and I have a similar problem – but I am in the start up phase! Not a big business like YP/Sensis).

    Well done. Good Article.

  • I agree Terri – I think YP are way behind the 8 ball here and aren’t making the most of their opportunities.

    I’m sure if I had their big budget my sales would skyrocket through simple conversion strategies.

  • I have an existing Yellow Pages Online Ad, which I can re-activate from June to December.
    So the ‘Look at Me’ TV ad is was useful reminder to renew my ad.

    As Sensis customers can log in to their web site, to check your account and so forth, you’d think you would also have a login based facility to reactivate it, just as it was, same artwork, contact details etc.
    But NO, they insist you have book a meeting with the area consultant. As dumb as this is, this is just typical of Sensis.
    So, on their requirements, I contacted my area consultant at the beginning of June to reactivate it It’s been 3 weeks so far she hasn’t responded to book a time. But wait……it gets better.
    Believe me, that is normal.

    So after 2 weeks of no response I tried to circumvent these annoying reps by phoning the TV ad no.
    and as you’d guess I couldn’t find that no. anywhere on their website and thanks to your You Tube video I’ve got it.

    But I did try their boldly displayed 1800 no.on their website. That was on hold for over an hour, before I hung up. I left the phone on hold out of curiousity, just to see how long it would take them to reply. In my case never!

    So, not to be discouraged, I have since, emailed over 4 times, the customer service and still have had no response! My emails have definitely been received because I have recieved “auto replies”.

    So far I have contacted overall nearly 15 times to list my ad and there is no response
    So if you think the effort to find their contact information is impossible, I’d like see if you can contact them!

    Seriously….Maybe Sensis has experienced one of those once in a thousand year “Atlantis” type phenomenaes where everybody vanishes thru some intergalactic portal????? Maybe we should ring the police!!??
    Naaaaaa.. I reckon the “LOOK at Me”ad is a Sensis idea of an April fools joke to waste everybody’s time with a double laugh because you’ve fallen for an April Fools joke in June!!! Awwww… DUH!
    Ha Ha
    Suckers!!!!!!

  • Hi Steve,

    Great article! I had a good laugh at this. This is typical of big stupid companies with too much money and not enough brains on-hand.

    And, I HATE HATE HATE LOATH the ad & jingle – really annoying. I would have the ad agency who came up with that shot at dawn!

    These jokers just make your & our job selling & providing online marketing services 10x easier, due to their incompetence! 🙂

    Eran

    • For those of us in the know it’s pretty funny, but on the other hand I keep meeting with business owners who have dropped a lot of money on their online marketing only to find out the service providers did it all wrong and they’re getting $0 return on their investment.

  • LR

    When they said they had ‘Now Woken Up’ ….was this admitting they had been taking advertiser’s dollars for way too long!!!! Their book is dead and they still flog it!

    • I agree with the book being dead – even their online search algorithm is so bad I find the services better from Google than the YP online.

  • Hang on…

    I Google’d “yellowpages marketing made easier”, Google corrected me.. “yellow pages marketing made easier” and the first listing that appeared was a YellowPages listing…
    http://www.yellowpages.com.au/qld/pacific-fair/a-aabove-the-rest-websites-made-easy-12021705-listing.html

    Some girl called Mandy answered the phone on behalf of a company called “Aussie Click”?

    Upon further investigation, I found that the company is actually called OzeClick – ozeclick.com.au

    This is typical of YellowPages lack of data control !!!

    Moral of the story: if YellowPages can’t market themselves properly, then HOW on earth can they help ANY Australian business?

  • Danielle Horan from Sensis

    Hi Steve, thanks for your post and feedback. Learning you couldn’t easily find our new TVC ad online certainly wasn’t great to hear, but learning is all part of the digital journey isn’t it. We too, just like so many Australian businesses are going through huge changes to embrace the digital world. The opportunities with digital advertising are exciting and extensive but as there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution a key rule is to trial, test and adjust as you go. Our marketing team has today made changes on the back of your feedback to make sure our ad is found more easily online.

    Sensis works closely with thousands of SMEs every day discussing the different ways they can reach more customers in the new digital world. Although it’s a much more complex arena today, there’s a huge appetite from the Australian small business market and we’re pleased to be producing some fantastic results across multiple digital channels for them.

    I am happy to be contacted directly (my email is below) – particularly if any of our Yellow Pages customers would like to talk with one of our digital specialists about their marketing needs.

    Regards,

    Danielle

    Danielle.Horan@sensis.com.au

    • I agree Danielle that there are countless online opportunities right now for businesses to take advantage of and I’m glad this blog post helped Sensis understand some of the finer points of online marketing. I’ll be keeping an eye on the changes you mention and might write a follow up blog with the results.

      PS; If anyone in your team would like further training please don’t hesitate to contact me directly by using our contact form

      PPS; I wouldn’t normally let a competitor blatantly come and advertise themselves on one of our web sites for services that we provide but I couldn’t help but find the Irony of it all too funny not to allow.

    • Dave

      Interesting response Danielle…

      So, it sounds to me like you’re saying that Sensis is happy to take people’s money to do this stuff, and since YP/Sensis is still learning, they’ll get their experience & practise on their clients’ dollars??? 🙂

      Sounds like a bit of a stretch to me. If I was coughing up big bucks to your firm for these services but you guys weren’t already the pros and lived and breathed what you preached, I’d want my money back!

      If “a key rule is to trial, test and adjust as you go” is how your people work, then someone didn’t think this whole thing through very clearly when they went to air with a big bucks ad campaign to promote this service.

      Any decent, experienced REAL online marketing business (I could think of 20+ firms off the top of my head, NONE of whom have Sensis’ size & budget behind them, who would have got this right) out there would get all this stuff sorted ONLINE before going live with a big ad campaign.

      Still, I guess your people are still learning on their clients dollar, so that’s OK?!??! 🙂

      Good luck out there with that attitude.

    • Rob

      Hi Steve,
      The problems with the Sensis launch were basic. If Sensis managed to overlook these basic principles, I’m seriously concerned about the “thousands of SME’s” they run campaigns for.

  • Man this was funny – and then to come and plug themselves on your site! They really don’t get it. Digital journey? HAH! Great work Steve. @danielle it’s considered really poor form to leave a comment like that. I hope you don’t recommend that approach to your customers.

  • Janet Jackson

    Oh my is this the funniest! I am a former employee of Sensis. I worked there for many many years in production, customer service, complaints AND sales. I can tell you the following:

    1. People like Danielle are paid to trawl the net and “correct” negative articles about Sensis.
    2. The company is incredibly arrogant, and spends a lot of money blowing wind up its own bum.
    3. The “creative geniuses” behind such ridiculous campaigns as this are generally sheep with no original ideas of their own.
    4. Managers spend very little time in their roles before moving on to other roles internally with bigger pay checks. They NEVER know anything about the hands on work they are meant to be managing (this is simply left for the people at the bottom of the food chain to do).
    5. Yellow Pages and Sensis are an invaluably asset to our Australian Community – without them we would not have such a splendid example of stupid corporate idiocy to laugh at every 3 months.

    I’m so glad they continue to embarrass themselves. It’s an excellent example of how karma truly works.

  • Paul

    My business – AllSorts Secondhand Books – spends thousands on Yellow Pages ads. They won’t send me a rep, and they have no idea how to run the Yellow Pages on the internet. Madness!

  • Yellow pages, they took my money for years and years, now they don’t get one red cent out of me. Every business in Australia has been brainwashed for decades…”You must do yellow adverts”…Why?
    I am glad to be rid of them, who uses a stupid telephone directory anyway when a Google search will throw up what you want plus much with a targeted keyword search.

  • Jane

    Why anyone would spend money on a Yellow Pages ad let alone now go to Sensis to get them to create a no doubt overpriced website is beyond me – they have shown they can’t do their own and are slow to understand the digital age when that is their bread and butter! Glad they could learn the obvious from the smaller players(!)

    Maybe they will get by the time we’ve all moved on to the next wave of technology. At least their phone books can still prop up our monitors on the cheap. Although now they are thinner in 2012 even that’s not so useful 😉

  • I started advertising with Yellow when they released their first online directory in Australia. We were lucky we secured top of list in all categories we do business in and maintained that for over 10 years. The ROI in the early days was good however once Google came along ROI continued to go south to a point where the same spend in Google and even their major competitor, True Local, returned much better results.

    However we stuck with them despite many problems including their ridiculous billing systems and continuing promises that things would improve. Times have been very tough in business and we missed a couple of payments. They dropped us cold despite us paying the arrears.

    As it has turned out it is the best thing that could have happened. Had it not we would still have been overly cautious about losing our top of list spots and continued to pay stupid money for little return waiting for them to finally get their act together.

    We topped up our Google Ad words budget with what we were spending on Yellow and the results were immediate and many many times better than we ever achieved from Yellow.

    Let your fingers do the walking to almost any other major business directory and Google . . . you’ll very definitely get a much better ROI. I can’t imagine how bad it would be if your Yellow listings were below the fold or even worse and not on page one. You may as well burn your investment.

    Great article Steve.

    • Thanks Brad – I’m in the same boat personally. We cancelled a $12k advertising campaign in the YP printed directory and added $1k p/month to our online advertising. The difference is very noticeable!

  • Marketing Enthusiast

    I just googled “yellow advertising” and was auto-corrected to a search for “yellowadvertising.com.au” so I went with that…….. Then…… Magic happened.

    Google returned result number one – YP adv website. Great job google thank you.

    The second result that appeared has made my day. A site rich in content, with all the gems that Google’s algorithms loves… Great title text, clever URL naming protocols, user contributions and exactly the information I needed to make a determination as to the integrity of the YPA proposition. That site? Was THIS site.

    Proof that a true understanding of digital marketing techniques is to be valued more than any given ‘marketing budget’.

    Would you have your house painted by a dude who had paint flaking from his house?
    Would you trust a locksmith who couldn’t open his own door?
    A mechanic who couldn’t start his car?
    A digital marketing expert who clearly fumbled through his/her own digital marketing?

    Didn’t think so.

    YP are dying (google their results). Print is >30% down… And as per international trends SMEs are waking up to the hollow propositions of online directory propositions such as that of YP.

    Sorry, I’m ranting… But the sooner Aussie businesses start spending their marketing dollars on long-term online discoverability strategies that don’t tie them to a provider and data-driven customer relationship building, the sooner they’ll realize what their marketing dollars COULD be returning to their business.

    Great article. The tipping point is now.

    • Thanks ME – I appreciate the comments. I also agree that SME’s should be focusing more with their online efforts. Especially if they have been ignoring them.

      Yes there is a learning curve, but that’s what DD is for – to help businesses make that transition successfully and see a good return on their advertising and marketing spend.

  • Great article. I actually met with a YP rep last year who gave me a huge quotation to place my ad to their page. All I wanted was for my website to be shown on YP directory. All they had was for me to take up a huge package for their book which entitled me to have my website on their directory.

    Since then I decided just to use other on-line directories which allow me to place my business information along with my website details – for free.

    I cannot believe YP did not take advantage of the “annoying” factor and use it as their keywords.

    Thanks for doing your research and sharing with us.

  • Hi Steve,

    Lovely article and you’ve done really well as I was looking around as well for how much yellow pages advertising would be to include as part of my clients promotional marketing. I know that yellow pages is a total rip off but I thought that maybe they had something new / different to offer. They have absolutely missed the basics – unbelievable. Anyway just wanted to say great article and its not always the biggest companies that get the best results.

  • John

    Good post!

    • An oldie (now) but a goodie hey John 🙂 Thanks for your feedback.