Who Still Uses the Yellow Pages?

A few weeks ago, I saw something glistening in the snowdrift on my driveway. (Ok, maybe more than a few weeks ago. I’m behind.) By the glow of the porchlight, I saw a blue bag. I pulled, and discovered a Yellow Pages. Argh. At least this year I didn’t get two, I thought, since that has been the case every year I’ve lived here.

It was bitterly cold, so rather than trying to break the ice on the recycle bin to dump it directly, I carried the bag into the house, set it on the mat by my dripping boots, and forgot about it until morning. As I was straightening up the next morning, I looked and realized that the bag held two copies: a full size white/yellow pages combo and a smaller “fun sized” version that appears to just have some selected (higher priced?) Yellow Pages ads. Perhaps they think I’ll use the small one as a desk reference instead of a doorstop?

But the fun didn’t end there. Mere minutes later, I went to retrieve my newspapers from the end of the driveway/snowbank/neighbors’ yard. (I am consistently amazed that three papers, delivered by the same person at the same time, can end up so widely dispersed.) As I turned and walked back to the house in daylight, I saw another blue bag sitting on my front steps.

So apparently the legacy of this house being a two-unit continues? And they chose to leave one on the driveway and one on the steps? They also spammed the vacant houses on the block – I wonder how long their editions will sit before they disintegrate under the spring rain.

A recent HubSpot cartoon captured this nicely.

The whole yellow pages concept has outlived its lifespan. When was the last time you consulted the physical book when you need a number? I use Google, often from my phone, when I need to find a restaurant or business. Plus, I can read reviews rather than relying merely on a company’s own words. If I need a plumber or other contractor, I post something on Facebook and usually get a half dozen solid recommendations in a couple hours, which is far better than randomly picking someone out of the yellow pages.

And yet companies still pay for yellow pages ads. But who are they targeting? Scott Stratten of UnMarketing wrote a fantastic post about the phenomenon, examining the case that people use to justify the directories’ continued existence: “They work in some markets! People still use them! Like old folks, shut-ins and people who are still locked into AOL contracts!”

What do you think? Do you still see a use for the yellow pages? If you’re in marketing, is it part of your mix? As a consumer, when was the last time you cracked open the pages – or did it even make it indoors?

There are opt-out options, which I’ve now completed. Fingers crossed I don’t get more.

Hat tip to HubSpot for the spot-on cartoon


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