Yellow Pages v. Social Media Marketing: A Rebuttal To The Lazy, Lying Mainstream Media

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by andrewsho

From the Couldn’t Resist Department:

Tara Nelson of the, “the insider source for everything local”, wrote an article today called “Yellow Pages v. Social Media Marketing” on the subject of shifting your budget from print yellow pages advertising to social media marketing.  Now readers of this blog know I am all about positivity and sunshine, and I sure don’t want to knock Tara for trying, bit once you get past the catchy headline you quickly realize this is the insider source for, well, I am too much of a Christian to say what.

Tara’s argument is essentially that no one uses the print yellow pages anymore. To support this notion she reveals the following facts:

“AT&T has been allowed to cease delivering white pages to doorsteps in Missouri’s largest cities. Customers can call a toll-free number to ask for a residential book and it will be mailed for free. During similar pilot projects last year in Atlanta and Austin, it was noted that fewer than two percent of customers requested paper phone books.

Missouri Public Service Commission Chairman Robert M. Clayton III stated, “But we also have to recognize times have changed and many people aren’t even looking at these (yellow pages) anymore.”

Ok so first Tara, I believe the Missouri case is talking about eliminating white pages directories so not sure how you’ve made the case that no one uses the print yellow pages. And thanks for totally doctoring Chairman Clayton’s argument to make it look like he was talking about yellow pages when in fact here is the actual quote from

“I’m concerned that certain members of the community who use the white pages may be slightly inconvenienced,” said PSC Chairman Robert M. Clayton III. “But we also have to recognize times have changed and many people aren’t even looking at these any more.”

I think in journalism the technical term for this is “making shit up”.

Update: I just looked and they have removed the made up stuff from the article.  Good for them.  But just to make sure that they know that you and I know what they know let’s go to the trusty Google cache.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming:

And then there’s this gem:

“keep in mind that a vast number of (phone books) sit unused in a drawer or closet somewhere…This also makes tracking metrics and accurate conversion rates nearly impossible.”

Ok so let me get this straight – because most people don’t use their phone books you can’t track conversion rates of the people who do?

But wait, there’s more!:

Let’s say you were going to wipe off the dust and try to use one of those big, bulky phone books. Which one? Have you ever stopped to consider just how many different versions there are? Chances are high that your potential client will grab a book that you are not in. Building your online presence is infinitely more effective today.

Oh really?  Tara, have you ever stopped to consider how many local search engines, online yellow pages, SEM firms, SEO firms, web developers and yes, social media marketing firms, are trying to sell your reader a presence on their fabulous system?  Chance are high that your potential reader will drop his yellow pages ad, invest in a website, blow a bunch of money on Google ads before he figures out the ROI blows, forget the login to his Twitter account and angrily hit the spam button every time one of his buddies from fifth grade Facebooks him.  Oh yeah and then when his yellow pages rep calls him up he’ll be so desperate for leads that he’ll pay even more to get his “seniority” position back in the book.

Now readers of this blog know that I am not a cheerleader for print yellow pages, but the truth is that for certain categories the print book provides fantastic ROI.  “Boring” categories like assisted living facilities,  signs, bail bonds, etc.  But knowing that stuff would require a journalist to actually do a little research, wouldn’t it?

But let’s give Tara the benefit of the doubt and agree that the printed yellow pages are dead.  Again she lays a foundation of reason as solid as concrete bubble wrap:

“Social media allows you to arm yourself with more precise analytics.”

Really?  So x Tweets = y leads and x friends on Facebook = $y?  Like that kind of stuff?  Cool. Well, no actually this:

“TMP Directional Marketing indicated 61% of search inquires are made online as opposed to in print. Social media is the clear answer for standing out in the crowd and announcing your presence to the world.”

Oh, now I get it.

There are too many marketers out there trying to sell businesses on fuzzy, hard-to-understand stuff because it’s shiny and new.  Normally sane business people can succumb to the peer-pressure hype of this fabulous new world of social media marketing and the education can be expensive.

That said, there is a strong case to be made that many types of businesses can get a great ROI from social media marketing.  But to make that case, you actually need to make the case.

Some sites that make the case for social media marketing:



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