Recently, I was thinking about how tough it must be to be a business owner. They start a business because they have something they are really good at, a specialty, a niche, a gift. But how will people know about them? Believe it or not, some business owners will never advertise. This always amazes me. A brand new business opens and they just think people are going to show up at their door. They don’t put an ad in the paper, list in the yellow pages, don’t’ have a website. I am never surprised then, when an “out of business” sign appears in their window soon thereafter.

So what about the businesses that succeed? What are they doing to bring people to their door? A new business may have been fortunate enough to open its doors, and they now have a couple dozen advertising companies calling them with the next best thing. Whom do they believe? They all say their ads are the best, but how do they know what really works? Very rarely does a business owner have unlimited funds to try every form of advertising out there. So they have to choose. And they need to choose wisely.

When it comes to advertising, there are basically two types: creative and directional. Creative is something like radio, television, billboards, newspapers, magazines and flyers. They create the desire for a product or service and help create brand awareness. But the user may not be ready to buy at that time. That’s when directional advertising comes in. Directional advertising captures the buyer when they are ready to take action, when they are ready to spend money and do business. This form of advertising has got to be the first priority when it comes to an advertising budget.

Ten years ago almost all successful businesses found it necessary to advertise in the yellow pages. But these days, there are so many other options to find products and services, I wondered if anyone still used those books. I have heard that “the phone book is dead,” and “the phone book is a dinosaur, completely extinct.” If this is the case, why are business owners still giving these yellow page companies a good chunk of their advertising dollars? I decided to find out for myself.

According to statistics, announced by searchengineland.com (link to source), yellow page usage has been steadily decreasing. In 2002, there were more than 15 billion references to the printed yellow pages in the United States. Last year in 2011, that number had dropped below 11 million.