Keep ‘Em Out Of The Yellow Pages

November 9, 2009

By Matt Michel

I have a picture of a service truck with decal instructing people to look for their ad in the yellow pages.  Why would anyone send a current or potential customer to a book featuring ads from all of his competitors?  Don’t send people to the yellow pages.  Keep them out of the yellow pages.  Here are nine ways…

1. Sticker Everything
When you’re in the home, place stickers everywhere you can.  Make it easier to find your number on a sticker than in the yellow pages.  Electricians should sticker the breaker box.  Air conditioning contractors should sticker the furnace and disconnect.  Plumbers should sticker water heaters and disposals.  Landscapers should sticker the sprinkler control box.  Everyone should consider placing stickers on the inside of the cabinet door under the kitchen sink.
2. Give Customers Magnets
Recently, we were looking for the name and phone number of our t-shirt vendor.  Janet Thomasson, the Service Roundtable’s Chief of Staff, was telecommuting.  I called her for the information and while she couldn’t remember the name off the top of her head, she did know how to find it. 

“Look for a magnet on the freezer door in the office,” she said.

Some of the most valuable real estate in the customer’s home is the refrigerator.  It’s at the center of the home and is one of the most visited appliances.  The refrigerator is usually a family bulletin board with notes, lists, drawings, awards, and pictures all held in place by magnets.  Make sure your magnet is one of them.  Make sure your number is available at kitchen central.

For a complementary, illustrated, digital book featuring dozens of innovative ways to use refrigerator magnets, contact Liz Patrick by email at

3. Provide Valve Tags
Valve tags are used in industrial operations to help identify piping circuitry.  Legendary plumbing contractor, Frank Blau, took the concept and added a marketing spin.  Frank created residential valve tags to use for marketing purposes as well as informational.  The tags provide useful information to homeowners as well as full company contact information.

Valve tags aren’t limited to pipes and valves.  They can be used for electrical products, control products, and so on where you can use a tie to attach a tag.

You can easily make your own using a luggage tag or ID badge lamination kit from any office supply store.  Design the cards you laminate to include full company contact information and punch outs for to identify the valve or pipe for plumbing, voltage or circuit for electrical, and so on.

4. Provide Logoed Equipment Covers to Service Agreement Customers
Air conditioning contractors in colder climates can provide winter condensing unit covers with the company’s logo as a benefit for service agreement customers (and the service agreement helps cover the cost).  Plumbing contractors can offer water heater blankets with the company logo.  Pool contractors can offer covers for pumps and filters.

5. Co-Brand
Walk around your own kitchen and count the visible brands.  In my kitchen, manufacturer brands are visible on the faucet, sink ring, dishwasher, refrigerator, microwaves, oven, stove, vent hood, coffee maker, can opener, toaster oven, cutlery, phone, answering machine, and soap dispenser.  With the exception of the soap dispenser, I can’t find the brand of the store that sold the products or the contractors who installed them.

If people are willing to accept everyone else’s brand in their home, why not place yours?  Few things are as personal to people as cars, yet car dealers show no hesitation sticking their logo on the back of the cars they sell.

Co brand by including your logo and website or phone number on the products you sell.  Air conditioning contractors can get their logo and phone number tastefully silk screened on thermostats and supply registers.  Plumbers can replace sink rings with one’s that carry their company website and phone number when they replace disposals. 

Anyone can order domed case decals like off-brand computer assemblers use or plastic or chrome trunk decals like the car dealers use.  These can be attached to furnaces, breaker boxes, control boxes, condensing units, water heaters, pool equipment, and more.  Raised plastic or chrome trunk decals have the advantage of permanence.  Your competitors cannot use a sticker to cover up your logo.

6. Leave Reports
When you perform work of any type, leave informative reports.  The reports should document system conditions.  On the report include the following…

Keep This Report
This report documents system performance and may help
future troubleshooting.  We recommend that you keep
copies in a file, available for review by future technicians.

The report does provide useful information to future technicians.  It builds the value of the service you provide.  It also provides another place outside of the yellow pages where your company contact information can be found.

7. Provide a Report Holder
Provide a clear plastic envelope to hold the reports that can be attached with double stick tape to a product, such as a water heater, furnace cabinet, and so on.  The idea is to make the reports readily accessible by the technician and the homeowner.

8. Make Sure You Can Be Found On The Web
There’s already an entire generation of consumers who will not use the yellow pages, period.  They never even consider it.  They’re web oriented.  If they cannot find you quickly on the Internet, they’ll call the company they can find.

Make sure you’ve got a website that uses your company name.  Use Google Ad Words and other search tools so that your name pops up when someone searches for your product or service words in your target zip codes.

9. Use a Last Resort Discount
After everything you’ve done, someone might still find their way to the yellow pages.  If you can’t keep them away from the yellow pages, try and keep them from opening the book.  At the end of a call, give the customers a yellow pages discount sticker.  When the customer shows a technician a yellow pages directory with the sticker on the cover, the customer saves an extra five or ten dollars.

An alternative to the yellow pages sticker is a business card sized discount card that can be inserted at the start of your trade listing in the directory.  The card works on the same principle as the sticker.

Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
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Copyright © 2009 Matt Michel

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