Three Deep spends a lot of time talking to home improvement business owners at roundtables and dealer meetings across the country.  When we explain our service offerings to potential new Clients, particularly around Paid Search (PPC) a common response that we hear from contractors is "We tried paid search before with our Yellow Page company and it doesn't work."

Why Home Improvement Contractors should avoid Yellow Pages PPC

In these cases, paid search gets a bad name not because it is not an effective means of advertising (it should be among your most cost effective), but because  they hired the wrong people to get the job done. The truth is that hiring the yellow pages to manage a paid search campaign makes about as much sense as hiring a plumber to fix your roof. They just don't have the expertise needed to make search advertising effective.

It's no secret that advertising in the yellow pages is an endangered species. Due to the growth of the Internet, fewer and fewer people let their fingers do the walking in the old book.  In fact, millions of dollars worth of advertising goes right into the garbage or recycling bin the minute the book is delivered to homeowners' doorsteps.

In an attempt to build back declining revenue, yellow page advertising reps now sell "online click packages" to their customer base - to the point that directory companies are giving yellow page ads away for free when they accompany an online click package order.  The result is a commoditized and inferior product being delivered to companies who frankly aren't educated enough with online advertising to know any better.

Many contractors advertise with the yellow pages because they always have, and trust that these companies will lead them into the 21st century. We don't blame them - the marketing materials from the yellow pages promoting their online services are slick and present their solutions as a high quality offering; a bridge onto the information super highway. But in reality these products rely on a "cut and paste" template that does little to differentiate one business over another, doing a disservice to both the advertiser and the end user.

Want proof?

If you do a search on "roofing contractor minneapolis" you will see the following paid results.  7 of the 8 paid listings are run by the local yellow pages:

The strategy deployed by the yellow pages on behalf of these roofing companies is extremely simple:

  1. Load company info into a standard landing page template
  2. Swap out an image and logo here and a little contextual text there on those landing pages.
  3. Launch the paid search campaign across the exact same keyword lists, using essentially the same ads, with a different phone number.
  4. Collect a check each month for the negotiated monthly rate for the "guaranteed click package" the client company was swindled out of sold by the sales representative.

As you can see, the ads written for each of these companies really don’t differentiate one company from another at all.  If you were a Minneapolis consumer looking for a roofing company, which one would you click?  Do any of them really stand out to you?

The template strategy really becomes obvious when you compare the landing pages to each other.  Conduct a search for "roofing contractor minneapolis" and you can see what we mean. Or just compare this one to this one.

If the first rule of marketing is differentiate yourself from your competitors, how well are the yellow pages helping set these companies apart from each other?  Again, if you were a consumer looking to choose a roofing company, who would you call?  If none of these landing pages immediately grab your attention -- the answer more than likely is none of them.  Leading to the dreaded words:

"We tried PPC from the yellow pages and it didn't work"

It's not Pay Per Click programs that are the problem. It's your choice in providers.

In part 2 of this post, we will explain how to get the most out of pay per click advertising.