A somewhat recent conversation I had with Ray, my administrator, went something like this:
Ray: “I think we need to reconsider our Yellow Pages advertising budget.”
Me: “Really? How much are we spending now?”
Ray: “About $30,000.”
Me: “$30,000? %$&@!! For Yellow Pages? How long have we been spending that much money?”
Ray: “Not long. It used to be $40,000.”
Me: “Seriously? Does anyone even use the Yellow Pages anymore?”
Ray: “Why the #$#%% do you think I am asking the question?”
I’m not an expert on marketing, but the following I know from personal experience. When I hung out my shingle (literally) back in 1988 in a small town in rural Tennessee, people knew I was there because of newspaper ads, maybe some radio, and certainly the Yellow Pages. Back in the day, if Ma or Pa Kettle was looking for an ophthalmologist, the easiest way to find one was to pull out the trusty YP, look under Physicians and Surgeons, find Ophthalmologists, (assuming the Kettles knew that word) and choose the doctor with the most appealing ad.
We spent much money on good-sized ads promoting our services, and I’m pretty sure it worked. As years went by and we got busier, we scaled back the size of the listings. But then a funny thing happened. Al Gore invented the Internet. And the rest is history.
Because I am a fair-minded guy, I looked up the Yellow Pages on the web. It has tips on increasing retail business using social media, branding and blogging. It has testimonials from all types of businesses, but no ophthalmic practices. Today very few people, research shows, look for a doctor by scanning the Yellow Pages. I certainly don’t: Just now I reached into a drawer at home where I keep both phone book and Yellow Pages and found them buried at the bottom under a stack of papers. I can’t remember when I’ve last seen that book; it certainly didn’t look like it had been disturbed in a very long time.
This whole interaction spurred me to contact the geniuses at Ophthalmology Management to ask them to find an expert in this convoluted marketing field so this person could shed light on how we should approach this issue. See the article by David Evans, PhD, and CEO of the Ceatus Media Group beginning on page 40. He has that research I mentioned.
I’ll let you in on the super secret, previously classified 2017 Yellow Pages budget for the Eye Centers of Tennessee: zero. Yep, we don’t know when the last patient came to us from the Yellow Pages, but even if it were yesterday I wouldn’t resume that ad budget. So what do we do with that part of the marketing money? Read David’s article for more. OM