Once upon an Era, Yellow Pages was king. That doorstopper of a Directory dropped on my parents' doorstep once every few months, Trade vans prowled the streets with Find us in Yellow Pages' on a bright yellow sticker on the back, semi obfuscated by 'Watford for the cup' and 'clean me' written into the grime.
Then a cat appeared on the scene. Thomson was his name, the cheeky upstart. The Virgin Atlantic to Yellow Pages' British Airways. Always thinner, but somehow trendier and more useful.
Then Tim Berners-Lee gatecrashed the game. His Internetweb thingy seems to have caught on. 'Google' is now a recognised verb and no-one uses Yellow pages any more.
Do they? Yellow Pages and Thomson are still around, but the tomes are thinner and - be honest - when did you last pick one up?
I cannot see why they still have a team of Sales Consultants to sell advertising space. OK, so they both have websites to complement the Directory, but why not drop the Directories and Sales Staff? You have to move with the times and as many a bookshop has found out, mainstream printed media is declining as fast as Google's Tax bill.
Drop the hard copy and concentrate on online advertising - even then, competing against the Google juggernaut is uphill. You've missed that window. If Yellow Pages or Thomson had realised the power of the Internet, they could have made a great impact before Google came along and spoilt the party. Too late now.
What should we do? Get someone in your Business to advertise on every site going - but only for the free ads. Some sites have their SEO sorted and appear in Google, others don't, but with so many out there (the 'long tail') there is no point finessing it with paid listings. Google has, what is it, 80% of the Search market? Pay someone to get you results in Google, get a Business Tour to stand out and, if appropriate, use Adwords (but use an expert to prevent too much money being wasted).
Everything else paid for is just a waste of time. Don't believe me? What happened to QXL, the British equivalent of eBay? The number 2 auction site. Type it in. www.qxl.co.uk. It's now Danish. Would you try and sell anything on QXL? Would you try and advertise anywhere but Google? If you're thinking 'yes', then turn it around. When did you deliberately go to a non-google search engine to look for something? For 'you', read 'your customers'.
Yellow Pages Call Centre Staff. Move on. No-one pays for advertising in your catalogue any more. Why should they?