Despite the drumbeat about their demise the Yellow Pages still generate over $6 billion in advertising revenue every year. And customers in the older generation still use them. So they still do generate some calls.
The customers they generate will be for industries which cater to people mostly in the 50+ age range.
Make no mistake the Yellow Pages are a slowly dying business. Over the next 5 years they may disappear completely.
But the cool part about this tactic is it will keep working no matter if the Yellow Pages die out.
So how do you get a free ad?
Acquire old phone numbers of businesses in your industry. When a business in your industry closes down it’s a golden opportunity for you.
If that business had been around for many years they likely had a sizable customer list. Their products and invoices are still in people’s houses with the business phone number on them.
People don’t know the business closed because they only call when they have a problem. If you acquire this old number they’ll end up calling you. Just make sure you train your staff how to convert these customers of that old business.
Provide proper customer service and they won’t care that you’re a different business.
The phone number likely still has some juice in the current edition of the Yellow Pages and some people still have old Yellow Pages lying around with this phone number.
How do you find these numbers?
Dial all the companies in the Yellow Pages. See how they answer. This is fantastic market research. You may pick up cool tactics to teach your employees. You can also find out terrible things they’re doing so you can avoid those mistakes.
But the biggest thing you’re looking for is disconnected numbers. Make a note of those numbers so you can follow up with the phone company to acquire them.
Here are five steps to get that phone number courtesy of Steve Sorenson
“1- Call the phone company to see if you can get that number immediately. Some phone companies won’t give you the number until after it has been disconnected for 6 months to a year. Find out the exact date that it is available and mark it on your marketing calendar. Make sure you call early on that day to get the number.
2- If you can find the former owner, offer him some money to have the phone company release the number to you earlier. Consider offering him some money for his old customer records also.
3- Sometimes the phone number is connected to a huge ad in the phone book that wasn’t paid for. Offer the phone company a small percentage of the cost of the ad if they give you the number (20-30%). If you don’t get results from one phone employee, talk to another. Some employees don’t have the authority to make that decision. Any money is better than no money.
4- Train your call takers on how to properly convert the calls from the old business.
5- Treat these new customers like gold and that should take away most of the concerns they have.
If someone already has an old number and they are not the competition, offer to buy the number from them and pay all their costs to change the numbers. Ask them how many calls they get a week looking for the old business. This information should help you know how much to pay for the number.
If they don’t want to sell the number, ask them if they would refer the calls to you. Tell them you will pay a referral fee. Your highly trained call takers should be able to keep track of all referrals.”
Old business phone numbers are like gold. The customers you get from these will cost you a fraction of what it would take to advertise for them to come to you.
Also, when you find a disconnected business phone number follow-up with the previous owner. See if he’ll sell you his customer list on the cheap. If he’s been out of business for quite a while then any amount of money you offer him will likely be enticing.
Again this is a source of ultracheap customers you could get.
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