Do the Yellow Pages Have You Seeing Red?

Now posted on SSI‘s Web site is an extended version of the roundtable interview I conducted with four leading independent installing security contractors, who are highlighted on the cover of our January 2012 Industry Forecast Issue.

Held at the recent First Alert Professional convention in Scottsdale, Ariz., the wide-ranging discussion features Peter Allen, general manager of General Security in Plainview, N.Y.; Jeremy Bates, general manager of Bates Security in Lexington, Ky.; Larry Comeaux, president of Acadiana Security Plus in Lafayette, La.; and Stephen Wheeler, president of Holmes Security Systems Fayetteville, N.C.

You can read about how these executives are contending with the daily challenges of operating successful companies in their respective markets, as well the best practices and assorted maneuverings they’ve instituted to remain relevant to their customers in the face of so much industry change, both technologically and demographically.

So there’s my bald-faced plug to steer you to the roundtable, which I hope you find intriguing and useful to your own decision-making going forward. But now I want to broach a marketing topic that came up briefly during the aforementioned interview.

Comeaux mentioned that he finally pulled the trigger and ceased spending many thousands of dollars each year on buying into all the yellow-page advertisement books in his Gulf Coast market niches. It was not exactly an impulse he acted on overnight. He explains:

“It was something I was scared to do. For five years I wanted to do it and I finally did [in late 2010]. I was paying up to $70,000 a year for the yellow pages. Every time the guy would come in I would get mad because every time [the cost of my ad would increase]. Before you knew it, when he walked out it cost another $10,000 for that year and there were five different yellow pages in our area. So, I had five different books to buy.”

Fed up with the rising costs, Comeaux approached his business partners and informed them they would soon be exiting from yellow-page advertising altogether.

“I took a chance. I told them I was going to take that $60,000 to $70,000 and use it elsewhere,” he said. “So what are we doing? We stopped every yellow page ad [in November 2010], and I’m telling you I don’t think that it affected me one bit.”

Instead, Comeaux redirected that money online – investing in a redesigned, greatly enhanced Web site — as well as purchasing promotional spots on local television. Acadiana’s phone number still appears in the yellow-page directories, but the display ads are no more. So, I’m curious, do you continue to use yellow-page advertisements to support your marketing efforts? (Bald-faced plug No. 2: SSI has extended the deadline to enter the SAMMY Awards to Jan. 16; get those sales and marketing entries in!) If so, what has the outcome been? Good decision? Where did you put the money instead?

If you continue to buy yellow-page ads, have you recently calculated the return on investment (ROI)? After tooling around the Internet a bit, I came across a Forbes magazine article on this topic that might interest you. Not surprisingly, many small businesses struggle deciding whether or not re-up each year for their yellow-page ad. This article can help you determine if the cost is worth your while or if your lead-generation dollars are better spent elsewhere.

Rodney Bosch | Managing Editor


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About the Author


Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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