11th in Yellow Pages look-ups

SPECIAL TO CONTRACTOR BERKELEY HEIGHTS, N.J. Although "Plumbing Contractors" last year slipped out of the top 10 headings that people look up in the Yellow Pages, the category still ranks 11th out of more than 4,000 headings. The Yellow Pages Association in early May released research that shows the Plumbing Contractors heading had 250 million look-ups in 2004. That's down slightly from the 265 million

SPECIAL TO CONTRACTOR

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, N.J. — Although "Plumbing Contractors" last year slipped out of the top 10 headings that people look up in the Yellow Pages, the category still ranks 11th out of more than 4,000 headings.

The Yellow Pages Association in early May released research that shows the Plumbing Contractors heading had 250 million look-ups in 2004. That's down slightly from the 265 million in 2003 when Plumbing Contractors ranked ninth.

"That's not a significant difference; we always see a little difference from year to year," said Larry Small, director of researchfor the Yellow Pages Association. " What we try to hone in on with advertisers is that references are nice, but the key difference between the Yellow Pages and other forms of marketing such as direct mail is that when someone goes to the Yellow Pages they actually are there to make a purchase.

"Pizza is the only heading where people are more likely to make a purchase than Plumbing Contractors."

The research shows that 91% of the Plumbing Contractors look-ups result in a purchase, surpassing the 79% average for all Yellow Pages headings. The research further indicates that look-ups for Plumbing Contractors for emergency situations have fallen off since 1994 while references for bathroom remodeling has started to increase, Small told CONTRACTOR.

He noted that the Yellow Pages' unique selling proposition is return on investment. On average, plumbing contractors get $10 back in revenue for every $1 they spend on Yellow Pages advertising, Small said.

"Plumbing contractors have historically relied on print and Internet Yellow Pages to help generate business because-of the medium's high return on investment," Small said. "In fact, the average plumbing contractor Yellow Pages display ad generates more than $172,000 in revenue, according to industry research.

" As long as they get high ROI, Yellow Pages will continue to be a significant advertising medium for plumbing contractors."

The research indicates that people look in small Yellow Pages directories nearly as often as large ones for plumbing contractors, Small said. While the usual split between large and small books is 65% to 35% for other Yellow Pages headings, 49% of people look up plumbing contractors in small directories.

"People are trying to find a provider that is close to them," Small said. "Plumbing contractors who do not advertise is small directories might be missing business opportunities."

Researchers studied the content of Yellow Pages ads too. The findings showed that one factor that makes an ad successful is multiple phone numbers. Another point is that successful advertisers specify the area that they cover.

"Illustrations are very important," Small said. "When people look at an ad, they don't like to see problems; they like to see solutions. They prefer a positive image, such as a smiling woman shaking a plumber's hand.

"All advertisers' biggest problem is using their name as the headline in the ad. People want to see a headline that offers a solution. Don't use 'Joe's Plumbing' — they already know you're a plumber."