Let's get right to the answer. The only reason phone books still matter in marketing is in concept. Does anyone still have 15 pounds of Yellow Pages sitting around the office?
You see, the world will always need a place where our contacts are listed out -- some with more detailed descriptions than others -- but that place is no longer a book. It's the web. And as the formats of our information change, so too must the way we provide it.
Let me pick up with how this whole blog post got started.
We were talking with a client this morning, and part of our discussion was a year-over-year-over-year review of website traffic metrics. For this particular client, we experienced more than 70 percent growth in visits over a two year period, and it got me thinking.
The reason traffic grew is directly tied to the changing content we put on the website. The blog posts we created, the videos we published, those were our new "listings" in what is the modern-day phone book called the World Wide Web. There's a difference, though.
In the past, our listings might have been a simple phone number or address. For those companies willing to spend a bit more money, you could have an eighth-page ad with your logo and a tagline.
Today, our listings are actual pieces of information. It's content that helps answer questions about our products or solutions. It's a how-to video on cleaning our ice machines. It's a white paper on the money we can save from using the right kind of refrigeration compression.
Basically, we have to do more in 2018 than just provide our phone number and a tag line to expect people to pick up the phone and call us, to engage with us.
The question I have is this:
If you were willing to invest in a Yellow Page listing in 1998, why would you not invest in content creation in 2018?
I don't know what they were, but I'm sure there were metrics in the age of the phone book that directly tied the number of inbound calls a company would receive to whether or not they were listed in the book. And that company might have had data tying the number of sales to the number of inbound calls.
It's the same damn thing today, just a different format.
We can see a direct impact with the number of website visits we receive in relation to how much content we create (and how long we've been creating it). We can tie website traffic and digital engagement to sales. And we don't need a 15-pound book to do it.
Someone brought up an interesting point the other day about Superman. His question was, when Superman goes into the phone booth to change, where does he put Clark Kent's shoes?
I guess I never actually noticed or thought about it back then, but it prompted me to really think about the question from the perspective of today's Superman fans.
And they're probably wondering, what the hell is a phone booth?