The invasion had begun. It was right out of “War of the Worlds. ” Hideous creatures with multi-legged covered torsos with shiny black exteriors and serrated mandibles that would crunch at anything in their path. It was a veritable army that I watched in horror as it moved at will toward all that I held near and dear. They must have been in the thousands, no, make that the millions. They stretched almost to the horizon in their relentless march of death and destruction.
I had done what I could to deter the plague. I set up innumerable barriers and obstacles, but they must have laughed in their alien communication at my feeble attempts. I stood helpless as one by one, my various defenses failed to prevent the onslaught. From sprays to swatting to using a vacuum, I tried everything at my disposal, but to no avail. The trek continued unabated. I stared as the swarm engulfed my kitchen floor, then entered the living room as the feasting commenced. Any slightest crumb or morsel was devoured without the slightest slowing. I was now hiding in my bedroom, sitting on the bed with the Yellow Pages open to “Pest Control. ”
The first thing that I noticed was the lead headline in most ads began with “Termites. ” That would not serve my purpose. Where were the “Ant” people when you needed them? Then they talked about “Home Inspections, ” or “Family-Owned” or “Expert Service” or finally, “Free-Estimates. ” Now I ask you, how would any of that solve my problem? I had Armageddon in my household and these businesses were talking about how the family runs the place. Great. My goose was cooked. I might as well let the critters have the darn house and move outside into a tent.
I was lying on my bed filled with self-pity when a shadow played on the ceiling. I sat up to see a rectangular object in front of the window. It was a large Yellow Pages standing on skinny legs and it spoke to me. “Don’t give up the old homestead just yet, ” it began. “Take a look at this. ” With that, he or “it, ” opened up to reveal a full-page ad. The headline read, “Any and All Pests Eliminated the Same Day or Your Money Back. ”
You didn’t need to be a mind reader to figure out what I did next. I grabbed the phone and dialed the number. Someone would be out with three hours to begin the eradication. I was a happy guy. When I turned to thank the character, I only saw a card on the dresser. It read, “Glad I could help. Wolley Segap to the rescue. ” The end… or is it?
This little story was designed to serve a purpose and illustrate the need for effective advertising. So, attention business people: Is your Yellow Page ad doing its job? If not, let this serve as your wake-up call. I’ve witnessed many companies that thought they had an ad that worked, while, in reality, it had a flawed headline, lousy copy, or pathetic artwork. How do I know?
I was a YP rep and consultant for nearly 25 years and, prior to that, had my own advertising agency. I also have a degree in marketing. I’ve been designing Yellow Page ads for the past three decades. So I have expertise in YP creation and have advised almost 7000 companies on how to put together the most effective YP ads. If you have a display or in-column ad, regardless of size, color or position, I can tell you it most probably needs improvement in the headline, artwork, body text, placement, book, or heading. You must understand the ROI or return on investment and learn how to track the results as well.
So consider getting some expert advice before you place your next ad. There are many good and inexpensive places to turn, some available on the internet. Make sure the consultant is well qualified with at least 25 years experience. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your own time and money. Then, hopefully, you wont’ really need Wolley Segap coming to the rescue after all.
Jeffrey Hauser’s latest book is, “Inside the Yellow Pages, ” which can be viewed at http://www.poweradbook.com
He was a sales consultant for the Bell System Yellow Pages for nearly 25 years. He graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in Advertising and has a Master's Degree in teaching. He had his own advertising agency in Scottsdale, Arizona and ran a consulting and design firm, ABC Advertising. Currently, he is the Marketing Director for thenurseschoice.com, a Health Information and Doctor Referral site.