Op-Ed & Periodical Article

Power of Yellow™ Op-Ed & Periodical Article                                      

Included as part of the Power of Yellow™ Media and Marketing Plan is a research-based article written by Dr. Dennis Fromholzer, President, CRM Associates, Boulder, CO.  Dr. Fromholzer is widely considered the world’s leading expert on Yellow Pages usage, advertiser value, and the factors that influence consumer buying habits.

The article is intended for placement on the editorial, news, and opinion pages of your local newspapers, in free-distribution periodicals, business journals, Chamber publications, you name it – anywhere the truth about Yellow Pages is accepted.

The source is impeccable.  The facts are data-supported.  Help trumpet the Yellow Pages value story.  Hail the Power of Yellow™


Yellow Pages – Still Alive, Well, and USED!

By Dr. Dennis Fromholzer


Surveys of tens of thousands of consumers consistently show that roughly two out of three adults use print directories at some point in an average year.  In small and mid-size markets, the number can be as high as nine out of ten.

With the cutbacks in purchases over the past several years by consumers due to the poor economy, Yellow Pages usage dropped correspondingly.  That drop in usage does not mean Yellow Pages are going away.  When people don’t shop, they don’t use the Yellow Pages.  No one uses Yellow Pages because they love it – Yellow Pages ONLY get used by those that have money and are ready to spend it.

The Yellow Pages industry tracks responses to hundreds of thousands of ads.  And the tracking data show that as consumers and the economy recover, consumers continue to find Yellow Pages a useful shopping tool.  Calls to Yellow Pages ads increased by about 17% in 2011 compared with 2010. 

The typical business will receive over a hundred calls per year from their Yellow Pages ad; some receive thousands, and a few receive over ten thousand calls. Based on estimates using tracked responses, Yellow Pages outperform virtually all other media in terms of return on investment. The reason the returns are so high is that roughly nine out of ten people that pick up a directory will follow through and make a purchase. That makes Yellow Pages one of the most targeted advertising media. Where else does a business have an opportunity to reach a group of people that have an 80-90% chance of responding with a purchase?

A recent survey by Market Authority sheds insight into the perceptions of Yellow Pages use.  In a survey of over 21,000 consumers across several major cities in the US, the survey found that, while 72% reported using the print Yellow Pages in the past year, only 22% think others use the Yellow Pages.  The remaining 78% think everyone else is using the Internet.  So why do so many people and businesses believe no-one uses the Yellow Pages? 

The most important thing to understand about Yellow Pages is that eight to ninety percent of Yellow Pages usage is driven by life events or major out-of-the ordinary purchases.  This has dramatic consequences.  It means that there are few "routine" users of Yellow Pages.  Rather, usage is episodic.  A person may not use Yellow Pages for months, then, in response to a life event, they may use it a dozen times in a week, after which time their usage goes back to zero. 

Thus, the fact that Yellow Pages only gets used when people have a major need - the major selling point for Yellow Pages - has become a source of perceived weakness because Yellow Pages is not used every day like its online competition or like mobile devices. The common press confuses "not used very often" with "not very useful".  Yellow Pages are extremely useful - it's just not a medium that is used every day. 

Here are key insights to understand about Yellow Pages:

  • A major consequence of the event-driven nature of Yellow Pages is that the majority of customers obtained through Yellow Pages will be new customers.  Users come to Yellow Pages to find businesses or products and services they don't normally shop with.  The Yellow Pages ad is ultimately a business’s "sales person" to consumers who know nothing about the business and probably very little about the business's products and services.
  • Yellow Pages users are valuable customers.  They are not driven to a purchase by a discount or promotion.  They have a need.  They want the product or service now.  They are willing to pay to get it.  The “typical” amount spent by Yellow Pages users is over $500.  
  • Many people think the younger generation doesn't use the Yellow Pages.  Well, the only people that use Yellow Pages are people with money to spend.  Young people have been hit hardest by the recession and its aftermath.  They don't have much money to spend.  They do begin to use Yellow Pages when they begin to experience major events (getting married, having kids, etc.), but many have been deferring those events because of the tough economic times.  Currently, about 47% of 18-24 year-olds and 62% of 25-29 year-olds report still using Yellow Pages.
  • The baby boomer and senior generations have the most money to spend.  They are in their peak earning years. People over the age of 50 own over 80% of the nation's financial assets and earn half of the nation's disposable income.  These generations grew up with the Yellow Pages and continue to use them the most.  These generations are the primary target audience for most service-related businesses, which constitute the majority of advertisers in Yellow Pages.

The most successful business strategy ever discovered is a simple one called "follow the money."  Yellow Pages allow a business to reach the people with money - because only those with money to spend come looking for information about businesses in the Yellow Pages.


Dr. Dennis Fromholzer, President of CRM Associates, is the world’s leading researcher, analyst, and expert on Yellow Pages value.  He annually conducts the industry’s annual Metered Ad Study, which now consists of over 300,000 separate Yellow Pages ad studies.  Dr. Fromholzer also produces research about who uses the Yellow Pages and what drives their usage.

Dr. Fromholzer has an extensive experience working with several other industries:  he was Director of Operations Research for United Airlines, Executive Director of Strategy Development for U S West Communications, and Project Manager for the Electric Power Research Institute. 

Dr. Fromholzer received a Ph.D. and M.S. in Engineering-Economic Systems from Stanford University and a B.S. in Mathematics from MIT. He has worked at Stanford’s Department of Economics, Harvard’s Kennedy School for Public Policy, and the University of Colorado’s College of Business Administration.