50 years of Yell!

yellow pagesEach year we watch the yearly doorstep delivery of the Yellow Pages get thinner and thinner. This years edition is no different and also proudly boasting 50 years ‘connecting buyers and sellers’.

There’s no doubt back in the day this was your first port of call when you needed something and also well supported by some famous adverts, but what’s gone wrong?

I’m willing to bet a small wager that most of you haven’t picked up a Yellow Pages in the past 5 years, I’m also willing to double or quits that wager with a prediction you used a web search engine, probably Google instead?

That’s why your business has a website?

When we were print designers before the internet existed we used Yellow Pages to advertise but found it expensive and a stressful journey with the reps and ad managers trying it on or building in mistakes. Yell.com (directory) also proved to be a very painful and expensive trip so we stopped using them long ago.

We were also victims of the ‘spin’ reps gave their directory – “it’s the biggest online business directory in the UK” one lady said to me during a sales call – no it isn’t, Google is!

There have also been some underhanded tricks by Yell.com to try and grab web design business from us local designers. About 4 years ago a client called to say he was very worried about a report his Yell rep had given him stating that his website was not working correctly, not on Google, not well designed and many more slurs in the 20 page document. I managed to contact the rep who said “it’s a standard report, not unique, they just changed the business name at the top of the page”  – a con. 12 local web designers inc OHM took Yell to the ASA for that!

On reflection there were also some good things that came from the Yell sales activity. For example they managed to convince many businesses that having a website was a good idea. After a year or 2 the owner realised the potential of the internet and having been let down by Yell’s appalling after sales service and ineffectual SEO, went off and found a real website designer. Many of our clients came down that route.

All in all Yell haven’t helped themselves with aggressive marketing, high prices and dubious claims – it was always going to end in tears at some time. The fruit bowl is now empty.