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Mellow Yellow

You can create a great Yellow Pages ad . . . but you may not even need one these days.

Q: Should I renew my ad in the Yellow Pages? The small ad I currently have isn't working for me. I'm considering reducing my ad to just an in-line listing with the business name and phone number.
Rita Fisher
Columbus, Indiana

A: Before you decide to change your ad, realize there could be several reasons your Yellow Pages listing isn't working. Most important is the name of your business. Our own research indicates that your business's name is more important than the size of the ad. So a name with appeal, particularly if it's in boldface, can be more effective than a larger ad with a mediocre name.

What makes a name appealing? We find it's emotional appeal-not logic-that makes a name work. You can learn this only by testing out a variety of names on potential customers.

Another reason might be that the way people look for businesses is changing. Recently, we asked a Phoenix audience how many of them looked on the Web for local services before or instead of opening the Yellow Pages. About one-third of the audience members raised their hands. That proportion is only going to grow.

Increasingly, business will most likely come via the Net-so invest your money and energy where they're most apt to get you a return.

Paul and Sarah Edwards' most recent book is Changing Directions Without Losing Your Way.

This story appears in the September 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »