Let Your Fingers Do the Walking

All right, the Cubs are out of it after deciding to not show up for the playoffs. As the line goes, there’s always next year… Now my hopes and dreams are resting with the Bears. God help us. Now that the games are only once a week (versus the demanding baseball season), maybe I can get some work done, eh?

As I’m documenting the social networking relationships and processes, I thought I would share a few more traditional items over the course of the week. We are in the midst of a beta test to answer the more recent age old question, “Yellow Pages or Online?” Of course the quick answer to that is “it depends,” but we took it a step further with an existing client.

Yellow Pages have long since been the immeasurable marketing vehicle that would appear more like a crutch than an asset to most location-driven companies. In a 2004 blog post , Seth Godin referred to the Yellow Pages as the “Internet of its day.” Sure, the Yellow Pages got companies’ names out (and still do), but with advances in technology, business owners will opt for the medium with measurable results nine times out of 10. If most firms either doubled their Yellow Page spend or cut it in half, would they be able to tell me the difference? The typical answer is “no.”

Thus begins our little story. One of our clients has multiple locations and had a pretty big chunk of past marketing budget going toward Yellow Pages. When times were tough, they went from full pages to bold listings. This move had no rhyme or reason; it was based on somewhat of a gut feeling, with cost cuts leading the way. We wanted to bring some accountability into decisions like these by testing return. In order to do this, we set up five control locations in different regions of the US. With each location we ran a different size Yellow Page ad (to test placement size return) and IYP (or Internet Yellow Pages- to test online directory searches), as well as PPC (with Google Adwords- using our own system). For each of these tests we are running a RCF (Remote Call Forwarding) line to track calls coming from each vehicle. Once the results are in we can determine what works better and where, leaving room for regional differences. The next step will be taking the process nationwide. The test began in October and we should be getting the results later in November… stay tuned!

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