March 6, 2017 - Lowcountry Phone Directory on its way to your mailbox; here’s why you might have a hard time putting it down
Lowcountry Phone Directory on its way to your mailbox; here’s why you might have a hard time putting it down
BEAUFORT, SC, March 6, 2017 — Brent Cooper might publish the only phone book in the world that has a plot.
When the 23rd edition of the Lowcountry Phone Directory arrives in mailboxes in Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton and Colleton counties this week, residents will receive far more than listings. Cooper likes to think of his work as part coffee-table book, part local newspaper and part welcome wagon, too.
“We print our Yellow Pages on magazine-quality stock, and our photos turn out great. Nobody else does that, but we’ve been doing it for 20 years,” said Cooper, owner of the CPC Yellow Pages, which publishes the directory. “We have profiles all throughout the book, too, so when you think of the whole package together, it’s like a little encyclopedia of Beaufort.”
The Lowcountry Phone Directory features pictures submitted by several prominent, local photographers, including Eric Horan, whose shot of the Gay Fish Company docks on St. Helena Island graces the cover. Profile articles of longtime Beaufort residents are mixed throughout, as well. Book sections are devoted to information for newcomers, tide charts, and hurricane tracking and evacuation maps.
The local touches and variety of content are nods to Cooper’s former career in newspapers. His father, the late Howard Cooper, spent 17 years at The Beaufort Gazette — all but the first few months as owner and publisher. From his father, Cooper learned every aspect of the publishing business — reporting, photography, ad sales, typesetting, printing. For a while, they ran a newspaper in Florida together before returning to Beaufort.
“I saw how hard my father and mother worked, and I decided I didn’t want to work that hard,” Cooper recalls with a smile. “To tell you the truth, though, I work pretty hard at this, and I’m proud of what we do.”
The book’s mix of aesthetics, readability and utility explains why the 22nd edition was named the 2016 Directory of the Year by the Association of Directory Publishers. The Lowcountry Phone Directory beat out books from around the U.S., Canada, Germany and the Virgin Islands for the association’s top honor.
The content also explains why Cooper’s locally owned company, with just three full-time employees, still thrives, even as larger Yellow Pages publishers retrench in an increasingly digital marketplace.
Cooper admits he has had to do business differently, too, in the age of search engines, smartphones and artificial-intelligence assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Echo. For instance, many advertising clients demand data that verify the return on their Yellow Pages buy.
Ironically, Cooper turns to technology to prove the value of his legacy-media phone book.
For Yellow Pages advertisers seeking proof their customers still use a phone book, Cooper swaps out the company’s phone number for a unique tracking number. Much like when using a URL shortener for an internet address, the tracking number redirects calls to the company’s line. The caller never knows the difference, but their calls can then be tallied by the tracking service.
That service also allows Cooper to provide advertisers with monthly reports about the volume and duration of tracked calls. Cooper can also calculate the number of calls the business must receive to make its money back on the phone book ad, as well as overall return from the ad.
That service doesn’t come cheaply — the tracking service costs CPC Yellow Pages 15 cents per minute.
“It’s worth every dollar invested because it proves that CPC Yellow Pages still work-- many times to previous non-believers. Our tracking lines show two to five times the national average usage and ROI”, Cooper states.
Cooper figures his business remains viable precisely because he spares little expense to make his phone book something special. That’s why he prints on thick stock. And that’s why he also mails 82,000 copies from his press run of 94,000, rather than risk damage by tossing them into driveways. Over 90 area distribution locations provide extra copies of the directory throughout
“I just really enjoy publishing something people want to look at and hang on to,” Cooper said.
LOWCOUNTRY PHONE DIRECTORY BY THE NUMBERS:
4: Tractor trailers needed to transport the press run of 94,000 phone books from the printer.
1948: The year the Gay Seafood Company dock was built. The St. Helena Island landmark is featured on the cover of this year’s phone book, in a photograph by Eric Horan taken before Hurricane Matthew damaged the structure.
18,195: Yellow-page listings in the 2017 Lowcountry Phone Directory.
64,121: White-page listings in the 2017 Lowcountry Phone Directory.
$100,000: Average sales revenue generated by $3,000 in Yellow Pages advertising, according to a January 2016 study by the CRM Associates research company, on behalf of the Association of Directory Publishers.
207,000: Population that receives the Lowcountry Phone Directory. The directory serves all of Hampton and Jasper counties, most of Beaufort County and a portion of Colleton County.
ABOUT CPC AND THE LOWCOUNTRY PHONE DIRECTORY
The Lowcountry Phone Directory is published annually and circulates 94,000 copies in Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton counties. The 2017 edition, printed by Fry Communications Inc., is the company’s 23rd consecutive. The company is owned and operated by its founder, Beaufort native Brent Cooper.
The cover of the 2017 Lowcountry Phone Directory features a photo of the Gay Fish Company docks on St. Helena Island, shot by Beaufort-based professional Eric Horan and picked after a contest that drew 360 entries from 25 photographers. An image shot by Horan, featuring Chechessee Creek marshlands, also was featured on the cover of the 2016 directory, which was named Directory of the Year by the Association of Directory Publishers.