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40 Reasons Why The CEO Still Uses The Yellow Pages And Not Social Media

I was going to write something completely different than what turned up below but somehow this article emerged.

Over the last 12 months I have come up against a lot of reasons and excuses to  not use “Social Media”, “New Media”, Digital Marketing” or embrace the “New Rules of Marketing“. It certainly doesn’t mean that you have to discard what is currently working in your marketing program and it doesn’t mean throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

This list is a bit of a “Tongue in Cheek” look at why the CEO still wants to use the Yellow Pages and not embrace the “New Marketing” of the 21st century. I came up with 40, but feel free to add more in the comments. Hey… have a bit of fun.

40 Reasons Why  The CEO Still Uses The Yellow Pages

  1. The “Yellow Pages” have no room for comments
  2. The “Yellow Pages” are easy to control (and they can be used to keep the door open)
  3. They look good on the bookshelf ( and I have very nice bookshelves)
  4. So what do you mean by “Kindle”?
  5. You can stack “em” high
  6. The grand children can use them for “Papier Mache”
  7. Very hard to measure  “social” or “community”
  8. It’s big and thick and comfortable (like my slippers)
  9. You can recycle them (you can’t recycle bits and bytes)
  10. Change is still a dirty word
  11. It’s hard to say “No” to the account manger from the yellow pages (she is very cute)
  12. It’s got nice pictures (and it’s in high definition)
  13. You can use nice safe corporate speak in the Yellow Pages
  14. It’s safe one way communication
  15. Like everything they will always come back into fashion “just you see, young man”
  16. Digital and Social Media is too trendy and “GenerationY”
  17. I am going deaf (I can’t listen to a webinar)
  18. I am going blind (I have trouble viewing a YouTube Video)
  19. The Yellow Pages don’t need batteries (like my hearing aid)
  20. Direct mail has worked for us for the last 30 years
  21. “Look, I can see our company name up in lights (TV)” – Ego
  22. When I started this company I started with the Yellow pages and a telephone, so start cold calling.
  23. What do you mean by “Blog” … I fell into one of those when I was hunting
  24. Facebook is for only for teenagers and it doesn’t fit our companies demographic
  25. They are old (sorry.. mature)
  26. Conservative is cool after the “Great Financial Crisis”
  27. They own a desktop and not a laptop
  28. “Tablet” is something you take before going to bed
  29. New means scary, I prefer comfortable
  30. They have one eye on the retirement plan
  31. They only have one eye
  32. Email is still safe (sort of)
  33. You don’t get sacked for doing what always worked 10 years ago (last century)
  34. Can’t spell “New Media” or “Social Media”
  35. Google is something that babies say
  36. You can’t measure the “ROI” for Social Media
  37. They haven’t worked out the costs of “Return On Ignoring”
  38. SEO, what does that mean?”
  39. Now we can’t have our competitors seeing what is in our catalog if we put it online,they might steal some ideas…Guess what, they already have it!
  40. “Mobile Marketing that sounds like a good idea, so where will we keep moving those mobile signs to”

So what exceptional excuses did you hear in 2009?

Jeffbullas's Blog


  • Love your list!
    Too bad that indeed people still try to find reasons to ignore social media, while they’re definately here to stay…

  • Great list. Sometimes I wish they’d just be honest and say “Look, I don’t get it and that makes me scared of it”.

  • Great list. I personally think it all revolves around the “afraid of change ” idea. All the other excuses are derived from this central point, fear. Seems to be a generational thing, as discussed in a recent book i read and reviewed called “social media at work” (not sponsored)
    as one of the younger generations, i embrace change and get excited by the possibilities.

  • I’ve heard #33 so many times this year! “You don’t get sacked for doing what always worked 10 years ago (last century)”

    It’s such a frustrating thing to hear that when it can offer so much potential return, especially when it works with their website.

  • 41. Developing our marketing strategy into the 21st Century is not a priority.

    42. I don’t or understand it, why would it be relevant to my customers?

    43. It doesn’t beat shoe leather and hard sell to contribute to the bottom line. Otherwise you’d be paid as much if not more than my sales people.

  • Very funny… you may also like my blog. It discusses everything related to Yellow Pages and Yellow Page CEOs! http://www.dallasGoogleguru.com or check out my new forum at http://www.YellowCrooks.com coming soon! CEOs that use the Yellow Pages are crooks……. or doomed……

    Just sayin!

    Mike Stewart

  • Echoing Lisa’s #42. “I don’t understand it, why would it be relevant to my customers?” – come up against this a lot.

  • Thanks Chandesh – I’ve realised I’d omitted the “use” out of that sentence – it was meant to read “I don’t use or understand it…”

  • C37

    I loved your list. In my experience the “giving up of control” or “fear of being real” is what scares many decision makers. I think the following items from your list come from that line of thought.

    – The “Yellow Pages” have no room for comments
    – The “Yellow Pages” are easy to control (and they can be used to keep the door open)
    – You can use nice safe corporate speak in the Yellow Pages
    – It’s safe one way communication
    – Now we can’t have our competitors seeing what is in our catalog if we put it online,they might steal some ideas…Guess what, they already have it!

    My favorite from your list was “Google is something that babies say”, very funny.

  • Love this list. I agree with you Jeff; companies can not ignore social media anymore. Thanks for sharing.

  • It is only a FAD and this too shall pass.

  • Great list! I for sure have heard so many excuses. By far the most prevalent:
    – People who do THAT get sucked in and lose a lot of time.
    – Our customers don’t use social media (and when you press them turns out they never really asked, just assumed)
    – We deal with businesses, not the public, so it doesn’t apply to us.
    – What if an employee quits and starts saying bad things on our accounts?
    – The best: I don’t want my employees wasting time playing on the computer. (clearly no concept…)

    Thanks for the laugh!

  • David

    I can’t recall the last time I looked in the Yellow Pages. It’s just that big fat book that takes up space in the magazine rack.

    That was until a few days ago when I was looking for a local shop that sold locks and that kind of thing.

    I found it much easier to find a local shop in the Yellow Pages than via a search engine.

    I think the broader truth for print advertising versus web (social media or not) is that print will remain ‘better’ to some degree so long as the people at Yellow Pages keep contacting potential advertisers while Google etc. are passive in waiting for businesses to notify them.

    As you say, you are not suggesting that companies throw out the baby with the bathwater, and for some uses the Yellow Pages is the better washing material.

  • Great list. I totally agree with you. Thanks for sharing.

  • #41: “They (Yellow Pages) give me everything I need and nothing I don’t.” For people just wanting a name, number and list of services–nothing more (no “noise”), I imagine the YP would be the preferred option.

    • Yellow Pages is for the 27% of American’s who want less information to make an informed decision on what local products and service to purchase from whom. The other 73% just get waste at our doorstep in truckloads.

  • I wonder how much of this is really tied into the thought that really senior people don’t use computers because they’re tools for functionaries – like assistants and accountants. They can’t get their heads around the idea that the flat organization has reached all the way up to them, and there’s really valuable information at their fingertips.

    The flip side is that we often make assumptions about CEOs that turn out not to be true, based on our assumptions of what people of a certain age are like. A friend and I were talking about “CEOs over 55 . . . ,” as he put it. I said he might want to think in terms of CEOs over 75. After all, I pointed out, he himself was almost 60 – and at the time I was 48!

    Nnot one of us is getting any younger!

  • I love it Jeff! I had a meeting with a CEO today who admitted he still uses a “blotter” as opposed to a PDA or even Microsoft Outlook calendar. LOL
    He admitted that his business coach thought it was ridiculous & that he was open to social media, but he still really needed to be convinced heavily!

  • Well done Jeff! I just completed an analysis for a law firm spending annually what it would cost to establish and continue an exceptional SM presence. They still trust “at&t” and cannot imagine how there could be a marketing vehicle superior to the traditional Yellow Pages. Time will tell!

  • Great list, funny and true! That said, until recently UK Yellow Pages USP used to claim a £33 return on each £1 spent, but I can’t find that sales page today… I don’t use YP myself but I know many tradies who do and are very happy.

  • Really great, but I’m a nit picker

    18- Blind doesn’t work for the yellow pages.

    33- Ten years ago IS this century (unless you got bit by the millennium bug that the rest of us avoided 🙂 .

  • I spoke with a marketing person from a top 100 company in the world at an event. She said that Social Media was silly and “that we don’t waste time on that stuff.”

    I asked her what the issues she was having and her response shocked me, “I’ve never tried it. I’m too busy to play around.”

    If you had the above quotes on your list some folks would think we were kidding around but this actually happened.

  • I wish that these social media uncomfortable CEOs would just invest some time into researching their options. Spend some time listening to what their customers, friends and even communities are talking about. Read the conversations that are currently happening. They could learn a great deal by just listening. Then working with a marketing professional to guide them in the right direction.

    Seems so counter productive that a CEO would not what to fully engage where customers are. Be like going to a tradeshow and hiding their booth behind a cloth. Then posting a 10pt font note in the bathrooms saying come see our products at the booth with the cover over it. PS. We don’t want to hear your opinions, experiences and we don’t want to talk about our business.

  • Just yesterday, a friend who owns a business in Miami told me that the Yellow Pages wants $30,000 for his Yellow Pages marketing plan. I told him, that’s nuts, just go online, do social media, blog, do an email newsletter to customers, register with Google maps, etc…

    • Mike, I am not surprised. Directory companies are still attempting to hold the axe over a clients head with a product that is far from performance based priced. They forget that print has declined over 50% in the last 6 years due to digital and that more and more phone books exist today. Saturation distribution methods mean that pricing does not decrease. They sales model and commission structure requires high ad costs and profit. One of the reasons that when Verizon saw a drop they quickly unloaded “Idearc Media” with debt and spun the directory business off. Unfortunately AT&T has yet to offer real numbers on its own decline of print.

      I have seen 30k in a phone book ad result in 300k in business… so it is not terrible idea. It just requires analytics or call metrics to validate responses and careful measurement. If the client was a previous advertiser or purchased the placement of an existing advertiser the risk might be reduced enough to make an informed decision.

      But don’t take my word for it, I am a disgruntled former Yellow Pages sales guy who has never used the phone book other than calling for leads. I have always studied and preferred search engine marketing vs traditional media.

      Mike Stewart
      The Dallas Google Guru
      Webformance Inc.

  • Jon

    36. You can’t measure the “ROI” for Social Media

    In all fairness, you can’t with YellowPages, either (unless it’s your ONLY source of getting clients; same could be said about Social Media marketing).

    Let’s face it, YellowPages are going the way of the dinosaur, search engines like Google are replacing the phonebook because of accessibility and availability.

    Companies concerned about ‘bad reviews’ online: Well, if you were running a decent company that actually serves your customers instead of trying to focus on fattening your pockets and skimming your customer service and product quality, you wouldn’t have this issue!

    Nevertheless, entertaining article! 🙂

  • Two things spring to mind here #1 – Whatever got you to where you are today is probably not enought to get you where you need to go to, and probably more relevent #2 – Survival is to the most ADAPTABLE (Charles Darwin). Either way, I believe change is inevitable – you need to embrace and learn that which you do not understand

  • crystal

    19.The Yellow Pages don’t need batteries (like my hearing aid)
    LOL!! Great list you made. =p

  • Randy Clark

    Oh…I hate to admit how many I have heard. But, let’s objectify the count.
    Are you the SM leader at your organization?
    How many reasons from the list have you heard?
    1-5 – Your CEO closer than you think to coming on board with SM
    6-10 – Don’t give up – a corner has been turned
    11-15 – They’d probably give you more, but it’s not worth their time
    16-20 – Keep that resume up to date
    21-25 – Have you sent the resume out lately?
    26-30 – How much id unemployment a week?
    31-40 – Your already gone, they just haven’t told you.

  • Wurzelofoz

    While its undeniably true, that today business’s have more options than ever before on how to go market, I don’t believe we are at a stage yet when one has completly replaced the other. For many business’ directive marketing with mediums such as Yellow Pages can still produce a strong return on investment. There is also the assumption that Yellow Pages is a still a predominately print based business which it isn’t. You might be suprised how many times you have used a Part of the yellow network, even if you havn’t picked up a book in donkeys.

    For many years, when it came to getting the advertising $ from SME’s Yellow Pages has been the Elephant in the room, so it should really be no surprise that the changing landscape is being used as as an opportunity.

  • Postoffice

    Funny, and some items relevant here on this list 🙂

    My reaction was “I’m not sure it matters what the CEO thinks… especially if it’s my clients competitor’s CEO?”

    If I’m trying to sell client services to that CEO, and he’s a “hard no”, I just discovered a great reason to sell to his competitor…

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  • You forgot one.  Retweet that’s what cowards do!

  • Great post Jeff. Luckily I work for myself and don’t have to deal with backward CEOs. LOL. I do run into this problem through frustrated friends a lot. When it comes to my competitors, let’s hope they keep using the Yellow Pages! 

  • Clark Bateman

    There are some valid points here, but CEO’s that can’t navigate a digital world aren’t going to be the ruling CEO class for long. At least use the digital form of yellow pages like tapyellow.com or something. But I guess they still make some of the decisions for now.