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Ding Dong the Phone Books Are Dead

Last updated 6 years ago

For over 100 years, those bulky yellow colored books with phone numbers of your local businesses were dumped on your doorstep, apartment building lobby or maybe even your office building.  And for the longest time, people used them because it was just what we did.  But with the invention of PC’s, the Internet, Smart Phones and Online Marketing, the days of the physical phone book are numbered and for good reason.

I met with a law firm who has owned the back cover on the 2 major phone book players in the Baltimore market since the 1980’s. For ONLY $15,000 a month, for each publisher, they get the privilege of ego buying that back cover because their rep keeps telling them their biggest competitor is next in line if they drop off.  It is all about personal ego and worst of all, they know it.  Every year they have a very candid conversation with both of their reps saying the same thing, “I can’t wait until one of you go out of business”.  They have decided to keep shelling out $360k a year on two books that are converting at a mere fraction of the results a decade ago because they are afraid some other “competitor” will show up where they have been for the past 30 years even though it is not working anymore.  Insanity!

So, why the shift from phone book to Internet?  ANSWER – Convenience!

The term “Google it” is mainstream and the Internet is where the vast majority spends their time looking for a local business.  Online marketing is the quickest way for business owners to get in front of consumers who are telling Google, Yahoo and Bing that they are looking for their type of product or service and want it locally, as close to their home as possible.  Whether your strategy contains pay per click advertising, search engine optimization, social media, online display or reputation management, online marketing is here to stay.

When was the last time you used a physical phone book?  If you are still a phone book advertiser, how torn are you on completely being gone from the book?  How much longer do you think the big phone book publishers will continue to dump their pound of yellow at your door?

About Alan Moore: Alan is an Internet Marketing Consultant with ReachLocal Baltimore.  His mission is to help you increase your revenues and decrease unproductive advertising expenses through proven, online marketing strategies.  He manages over $1.4 million in annual marketing budgets and has worked with local businesses, agencies, and the U.S. government.  Give him a call at (877) 655-3438 to schedule a free consultation.

The article that inspired this blog came from


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