10 ways to pop out of the phone book

10 ways to pop out of the phone book

Sep 23, 2005

The biggest share of practice advertising dollars is spent on ads in the Yellow Pages. The following are practical guidelines to help you think through your Yellow Pages strategy, improve your ad's efficacy and reduce costs:

1. Always keep the user in mind. Ask yourself: "Who will be using the Yellow Pages? What will they be looking for?"

The answers are: Newcomers or new pet owners, and they are looking for location, location, location - or, special services for their exotic pets or emergency services.

2. The most important information to have in your ad is:

  • Hospital name
  • Hospital phone number
  • A directional guide, such as "located at the corner of Main and 5th streets."
  • Anything special or different about your hospital, such as grooming, boarding, exotic pets, boarded specialists, avian care, puppy programs or emergency care.
  • Your logo, if applicable.
  • Your hospital Web site.

3. It is always better to say "convenient hours" rather than list the hours or days you are open. This strategy allows you to change your hours, and your phone book ad won't be confusing or obsolete.

4. Keep is short and simple. Think about your Yellow Pages ad as if it was a mini billboard. It should be clean and uncluttered. It must be attractive and communicate vital information.

When considering whether to include extra information or photography, ask yourself: "Will this clutter my ad? Will pet owners know what this means without an explanation?" The rule is: When in doubt, leave it out.

5. It is not usually beneficial to print the names of doctors in the Yellow Pages. New people are the heaviest users of the Yellow Pages, and they are looking for a nearby practice. Or, they might have seen your hospital sign and are looking up the hospital's name, not a doctor's. Also, excluding individual doctors means that you will not be advertising for a doctor who might have moved to another clinic.

6. If you are in several telephone books, why not put the books out on your counter and ask every client that comes into the hospital to indicate which books they refer to at home? If you keep a running tally of 50 clients, then you'll know which books you should advertise in. You might learn that people in your community use online listings, which means you need to have one of those, too.

7. Make your ad easy to read. Light type on a dark background is harder to read than dark type on a light background. If you use a dark background, use it sparingly and with large, bold type. The same rules apply to using ALL CAPITAL LETTERS: use them sparingly or not at all.

8. Color ads and overly large ads are more expensive than simple ones, and there is no guarantee that they are more effective. A good strategy is to try to look different from other ads so your message will stand out.

9. To gauge the cost/benefit ratio of your ad, make sure to track how many clients come in because of it. Multiply the number of clients by your average transaction charge to see if the ad is generating enough revenue to pay for itself. If not, then change the ad.

10. Make sure to proof your ad, even if you are rerunning last year's ad. Mistakes, once they are in print, cannot be corrected for a full year. They can be a source of embarrassment and lost business, especially with an incorrect phone number.

Ms. Gavzer, MBA, CVPM, is a veterinary business consultant and internationally known writer and speaker. She says her job is to help practices "go and grow" with training, marketing and new ideas. Gavzer has more than 15 years experience in the veterinary industry. She has created public education campaigns for practices, associations and industry.