Yellow Pages(R) advertising tip: What is your customer’s state of mind?

Auckland 2004 Yellow Pages books
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It’s rare that I use the Yellow Pages® at all, but today I needed to use them twice. It’s interesting to note that the difference in my own state of mind between these two circumstances dictated what content I was looking for in each ad.

The first time I was in the Yellow Pages® today, I was looking for a coin dealer who might buy back some of the British pounds I still have from my vacation (because the currency exchange place took my bills but not the coins).

My state of mind while looking for coin dealers in the phone book was pretty relaxed. It’s not a huge priority, I just want to find a dealer who will be conveniently located and who deals in the currency I have (because some places only deal in gold or collector’s coins). Consider what my “buying factors” were at this point: Convenience and scope (of coin acceptance).

The second time I needed the Yellow Pages® today was after I received a frantic call from my wife that the keys were locked in our running car, which was parked in the fire lane at the mall (where she had jumped out to mail letters). I didn’t think that I could get to her in a reasonable amount of time so I opened the phone book for a locksmith.

My state of mind was way different! My wife was upset and the car was running and in a ticketable location. I ended up weighing a whole different set of “buying factors” that ultimately boiled down to whether it was going to be easier / faster / cheaper for me to solve the problem or for a locksmith to do so. The content I was looking for in the locksmith ad was: A phone number, a price, and a speed-of-service estimate.

The locksmith I chose had an ad that rose above the rest because it clearly addressed my three buying factors. The ad’s content included: “24 hour lock out service”, a big, bold phone number, an indication of what areas of the city they served, and they even listed their emergency lockout price right in the ad. They addressed the buying parameters that were based on my state of mind and I hired them.

Interesting personal observation
I was surprised at just how big of a buying factor the published price was for me. I never realized it until I was making my decision. The reason is: It quickly indicated to me before the call what the value of calling that locksmith was, and helped me to determine that it cost less to call them than for me to stop working and go myself. Seeing the price made a difference for another reason, too: It mattered to me that they published the price so that when I called, I knew what the price was and some salesperson wasn’t trying to see how much they could get out of me in my emergency. (“Your wife is stuck in the fire lane AND your car is running? Well, Mr. Hoos, let me just get out my calculator here…”)

Remember your customer’s state of mind
Businesses creating Yellow Pages® ads should consider the state of mind of the customers who are calling them. Most businesses obviously include the basic information needed by the majority of their customers… but smart businesses know that customers are calling in different states of mind — “just curious” or “dire emergency” or something like that — and they can increase sales with appropriate content.

Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and he's a real estate investor and a copywriter for real estate investors.

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