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Welcome to Build Your Business. Each month, we will be contributing an article that provides some sound approaches to strategic business growth that have been field-tested for success by some of the most experienced home inspectors in North America. Whether it’s sales and advertising strategies, tips on making your business more customer-centric or how to evaluate public relations opportunities, our goal is to stimulate your interest to work on your business rather than just in it.
Last month, we explored the effect-iveness of advertising your home inspection business in the Yellow Pages and concluded that there are limited returns on these ads, but it can still be useful to have a presence in these directories. This month, we will look at some of the strategies that have worked for us. If you have not been involved in the Yellow Pages process before, this section will prepare you for what lies ahead.
In a large city, there may be more than one Yellow Pages book to cover the city. There will be an edition for central, east, west and so on. You have to pay to be in each of the multiple directories.
In the same way that there are different directories you can advertise in, there may be more than one location in any given directory in which to place your ad. For example, you may want to be located under “Inspection,” “Building Inspection” and “Home Inspection.” Each is considered a separate ad. You pay for each, but you may get a discount for multiple locations. You can mix and match—you can put a display ad in the home inspection area and have a single-line entry in the other two or three locations. In some geographic areas, home inspectors have gotten together to petition the Yellow Pages people to consolidate the listings into a single “Home Inspection” category, with referrals from other headings to this area.
We have a single-line entry ad in the Yellow Pages of nine different directories that span our territory. An entry is just a single line placed in alphabetical order. An entry can be boldfaced, or it can be more than one line if you are willing to pay more. A display ad is a box displaying your company name and can be any size you like. These ads don’t appear alphabetically; you pay for a particular location. You can pay for more than one color if you like. In fact, you can have a full-color photograph in many books.
Ask the sales agent about the circulation of the directory. If there are three directories that span your territory, you should find out how many books are distributed in that territory. The costs may vary with the number of people who receive the books. The cost per household is generally consistent within a market.
There may be a demographic difference between the different directories, too. Demographics give you useful information about an area, such as average age, average household income and consumer habits. Ask the sales agent if there are any identifiable demographics to a Yellow Page’s territory. You may learn something about your city that will help you in your other marketing efforts.
Yellow Pages are distributed to companies as well as households. You may want to determine the ratio for each book if you decide that households are your target. Many Yellow Pages directories are on the Web. You may want to check if a printed listing also includes an online listing. If it does not, you have to consider the value of being listed both in print and electronically because you may have to pay an additional fee to be included there. Multiple directories and locations in the directory are another consideration. Online listings usually have the option of including a link to your Web site at an additional cost.
If you are a new company, don’t forget that the Yellow Pages ad will not even reach the public until the next issue is distributed. This is typically done once per year. So, don’t wait for the phone to start ringing after you sign the deal.
The sky is the limit when it comes to how much you can spend on a Yellow Pages ad. Our recommendation is to proceed cautiously. Start with a single-line entry, which allows a prospect to find you. If you want to experiment more aggressively, do it in one directory so you can compare the results. For example, if you want to try a display ad, don’t enter it in three directories that span your area. Just try it in one location, then track its effectiveness compared to the entry in the other two directories.
This article is based on content from “Building Your Home Inspection Business – A guide to marketing, sales, advertising and public relations,” authored by Carson Dunlop and published by Dearborn Home Inspection. Carson Dunlop also authors the Home Reference Book, Essentials of Home Inspection, the Illustrated Home and most recently, HORIZON, a unique Web-based reporting system. See www.carsondunlop.com or www.dearbornhomeinspection.com for more information.
ASHI-Endorsed Provider Helps You Get the Most out of Yellow Pages™
Yellow Pages advertising may or may not be right for your community. To find out more about the costs and the reach of a Yellow Pages ad in your area, please contact ASHI’s endorsed provider, BV&K Direct, at 1-800-775-8444.
Ask for ASHI representative Jon Passman, who will be able to answer your questions. ASHI makes nothing off the sale of these ads, but BV&K can offer you the best prices on display ads and save you all of the legwork. Ask about trade ads featuring the ASHI logo for ASHI Certified Inspectors.