The Yellow Pages and his brother, the White Pages. A standard of nearly one hundred years that is obsolete and largely forgotten. Yet for many businesses, inclusion in the phone book is tantamount to a badge of honor, and they believe it adds legitimacy to any business. In years past, if you didn’t have a business card and weren’t in the phone book, you must be some sort of fly-by-night operator that couldn’t be trusted.

Let me ask you a question is that advertisement in the Yellow Pages worth it for your professional service company?

I’ll preface that with another question when was the last time you looked up a number in the phone book?

That should tell you the answer.

Of course, there is a caveat to the demographics of your business. If you are old enough to remember the restaurant Steak and Ale, you might have noticed that they are all gone? Yep. Their guests all died, and the chain died with them. Sadly, that’s the state that phone books are in.

If you find that your area has loads of retirees or your particular practice takes care of a lot of elderly, then a large print ad might be a good business decision. On the other hand, if you are largely servicing a crowd that never watched The Andy Griffith Show, then chances are they do the same thing with their phone books as you leave them outside until they remember to pick them up and throw them in the garbage.

To be honest, even the companies that make phone books now largely sell online advertising, but the myriad of free search options and mapping software means that even an online ad for the Yellow Pages may never really bear fruit and cost you hundreds of dollars a year. A statistic from points out that only 22% of its books are used, and they even offer folks the opportunity to opt-out of receiving the free books.

Now if there ever were a bad sales move, it would be the idea of advertising in a free publication that nobody wants and it is free!

So pick your poison carefully, because the fact is, there are better ways to spend those hard-won advertising dollars. Of course, if you are handling older clients, then you may find merit in being in the book and advertising in it, but otherwise, the smart move may be to use one of the many other mediums to broadcast your message.