Are Phone Books Going Away?

Over the past several years, I have noticed what one might call a interesting phenomenon. The big thick phone book has shrunk. I can remember using the phone book as a booster seat for my kids and it was always handy. When I decided to clean out the old phone books, I decided to use as a back stop for rifle target practice 30 or so years ago.

Today, the phone book resembles a smaller thick pamphlet and target practice would take more than three phone books as the thickness, height and width have reduced as well.

As far back as I remember, the phone book has been the “go to” place for finding businesses’ and individuals’ contact information. Need a plumber? Go to the phone book. Need to know what Betty Sue’s phone number is? Go to the phone book. The phone book was the “Holly Grail” of personal or business information.

The businesses listed in the phone book showed legitimacy. Otherwise, the business could be considered a “fly by night” company. The phone book was the number one external sources for locating a business in the community.

All individuals were published in the phone book. Why? Because every home had a big heavy desk phone tethered to the wall. Many phones had the round dial dialing one number at a time.

If you knew a person’s name and the town, the phone book listed the phone number and address.

Recently, I have investigated, and there is a perfectly logical explanation for the overall phone book content reduction. In a nut shell, the phone book is phasing out.ayer, the smart phone. So what happened? The internet.

Now all I do is “Google it.” Or use some other search engine or directory ap for the number and/or business address. Need an industry rated? Simply look at the reviews, testimonials, rankings, in depth editorials, and analysis of the business or businesses.

So is the phone book gone completely? Well, no. The reason might even surprise you, or maybe not. In some areas, printing phone numbers is a required service even though costly and unprofitable. Other areas, the printed yellow pages or business pages are profitable though advertisements and businesses realize a return. Over 80% of the phone books are delivered to homes while other statistics show that fewer than 11% of the households ever open the phone book.

I’m not here to advocate for or against the phone book. I am simply giving my observations as a long time business owner. In my experience, the phone book as an advertising tool is dead. It took me many years of throwing money away to come to that conclusion. Once I redirected the advertising money, I my response and profit grew. In one of my businesses I saw a 3000% ROI from online advertising. O was surprised! I had never seen that kind of response from the phone book.

*Corey and his wife Jennifer developed VVA Chapter 952 website and support veteran organizations.

Corey Harrison

Founder and President
Harrison Marketing Systems


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