It’s that time of year – in the last month I’ve received 2 different yellow pages directories found lying on my doorstep. Yellow pages advertising used to be the primary focus of my marketing budget. About 5 years ago, our practice ran a full page ad in at least 3 different books and a smaller size ad in 2 additional books. Oh, how times have changed!
If you are trying to decide whether to keep or eliminate yellow pages from your marketing budget, here are some suggestions:
- Establish a tracking system – most yellow pages offer (for a fee) a unique phone number they place in your yellow pages ad that will track these calls and forward them to your real phone number. These serves not only identify the volume of calls, but also record them. The yellow pages company provides you an ID and password for their website where you can run reports to find how many calls came in to your office thanks to this ad – and that’s how you can identify the number of potential new patients your yellow pages ad is bringing in.
- Listen to the calls – If you already have this phone tracking service from the yellow pages, then go online and listen to each call. You need to know how your secretary is handling these calls. You need to find out how many of these phone calls turn into scheduled new patients.
- Determine your ROI – Once you listen to the calls, you can document patient names and find out if these patients actually came in for their appointment. You can check your computer ledger to see what production/collection you received for each patient and compare the total with what you’re spending on this ad. In general, you want to shoot for a return on investment of 5:1.
By using this system, I have eliminated all yellow pages directory advertising except for one book. In fact, I was surprised to see how well this one directory was performing for us! When we decided to renew our ad in this book, we made the assumption that most of the potential new patients using the book were most likely senior citizens – and we targeted our ad to this group directly.
We’re also using the yellow pages to gain feedback on our competitors. When I see a directory that we have dropped completely, I flip immediately to the ‘Dentists’ section to see which dentists in my area are still paying the money to advertise. I find it interesting to see which dentists are still investing in a full page ad when I tracked the book’s performance and I know it didn’t perform. This tells me which dentists are paying attention to their marketing and which are still doing the same thing they used to do in the past.