Things That Disappear Into the Night-
The dinosaurs, the Steam Locomotive, the Yellow Pages….
Unlike the first two we will have no fond memories of the yellow pages. As a reference guide they have failed not only in a technology sense, but also in their core function. In the beginning the Yellow Pages were a viable source of information. They contained the basic function of providing the pathway to communicate to a business or professional by phone. The phone number was the essential glue that held the public to them.
Over time to increase revenue they morphed into an advertising media and a poor one at that. As they were a reference guide they did not enjoy the secondary readership of magazines. Contrary to the myth they foist into public consciousness, they are in most cases put in drawers, hidden away to be called upon only when reference was needed, and then put back. Front Cover Value? Back Cover Value? These are not coffee table books to be proudly displayed for guests to pick up and peruse.
This weakness is exasperated by the method of selling that became the standard for YP sales reps. Fear!
Instead of selling from their value, most sales approaches revolved around the fear of having your competition outshine you. Buy bigger, and bigger, and bigger. Yet distribution fell to smaller and smaller as costs rose. To overcome this weakness more and more books were printed so as to give the impression of growth, yet multiple books were given to the same household. In fact only costs went up, not “eyes on”.
The final blow is not the internet as many believe. While it is a contributing factor, it is because of the cell phone. When the cost of phone service moved from cost per line to cost per usage, users did not publish their numbers for fear of increased usage costs. With multiple providers and no CENTRAL public record of cell numbers the phone book as a device is irrelevant. It has lost its function.
You can search the internet and sometimes find your target and sometimes not. The yellow Pages as a phone book atrophies. So long old friend. Off to the recycle bin.
Will there ever be a credible replacement? Someday for sure. When it comes look me up and call me.