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Yellow Pages

Adapted from content excerpted from the American Express® OPEN Small Business Network


If you have a business phone line, you are automatically listed in the Yellow Pages. In addition, many small business owners also take out a display ad to enhance their message and drive people to their business. You might also want to place your message in Yellow Pages directories in other regions.

No matter what you decide, you can use these tips to help you create an effective ad.

  • Do you need to advertise in the Yellow Pages? Only if that's where people look for a business like yours. Retailers, for example, need to be there. Some service providers (plumbers, lawn services, diaper delivery, hotels and inns, for example) need a presence as well. However, if you get most of your business through referrals, networking or other media, then you might want to just stick with the one-time listing that comes with your business phone service.

  • If people look for your product or service in different sections, then you need to be listed in different sections. Go where potential customers will look for merchandise or services like yours. If you run a bed & breakfast that also serves dinner, you will need to be listed under "Bed & Breakfasts," "Hotels," and "Restaurants."

  • People that consult the Yellow Pages are actively looking for information. For this reason your Yellow Pages ads should be information-driven, not image-driven. Provide as much information about your business as possible in an easy-to-read format.

  • Because your ad will be listed along side your competitors, you must find a way to stand out. If color is available, you might want to consider it (even at the additional cost). If your competitors run large ads, your ad needs to be the same size or larger. Otherwise you'll get lost on the page.

  • Consider beginning your Yellow Pages ad with a bold headline that grabs the reader's attention. If you had an auto rental company, you might use something like "Need to Rent a Car This Weekend?" The answer, of course, would be yes (otherwise the reader wouldn't be consulting the phone book).

  • Display the name of your company prominently, in a larger type size than your body copy. Also, be sure to identify the area you serve. For the car rental company, it might say "Acme Rent-a-Car....3 Convenient Locations Serving Anytown."

  • Briefly state what your business is about - be sure to highlight your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) to set yourself apart from your competitors. (For Acme Rent-a-Car: "Short-term and Weekend Rentals Are Our Specialty"). Then go on to list your benefits - key services, and any incentives you might offer (late model sedans and vans; corporate discounts available; free pick-up and delivery; all major credit cards accepted; money-back guarantee; etc.). Consider setting them apart by using bullets (•) and short phrases, which allow people to pick up the information in a short time.

  • Don't forget to make your phone number stand out. It should be in a larger point size than the body copy, and in a second color if you decide to go that way. Remember, that's what readers are looking at the Yellow Pages for. And include your address set apart from the body copy, along with any other pertinent contact information.

Back to Copywriting Basics


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