Are Phone Books Dead When It Comes To Automotive Buyers?

Are Phone Books Dead When It Comes To Automotive Buyers?

        When it comes to marketing your dealership, do you feel like a fish out of water? Well have no fear, you’re not alone. Many dealers are struggling to find the balance between traditional media and the new world of digital media. Tried and true formats that once yielded impressive results are no longer delivering the same impact. This holds true, now more than ever, when it comes to phone books (you know… those thick books with the yellow pages and small black text…you’ve probably got one stuck somewhere on a shelf behind your desk, because you just never know when you might need it.) But, I challenge you to think of when you actually last referenced said phonebook. 
            The fact is, today’s consumers no longer turn to the phonebook as a reference. It’s pretty easy to understand the reasoning behind the decline of the phonebook industry. Why lug around a thick book that you have to muddle through pages and pages of company listings when you can just do a quick search on your mobile phone? Heck, now you don’t even have to type in the company name. Just ask Siri and she’ll find (and dial) the number for you!
            So what’s a dealer to do when that phonebook sales rep comes knocking on the door? It’s undoubtedly scary to turn away completely from something you’ve invested so many dollars in for decades! Rest assured, that the numbers will help settle your fears.
The Alarming ROI
            Despite phonebook usage being on a steady decline for the past decade the ad prices have remained extremely high. When you talk to your sales rep, ask them for the number of phonebooks delivered to households only. (A lot of times distribution numbers are high, because they factor in businesses that they auto deliver hundreds of non-requested books to). The ROI just doesn’t add up.
            So what about the senior citizens? It’s easy to justify spending money on phonebook advertising, because all the senior citizens still use them….or do they? The truth is, 82.9% of adults age 55-64 use the internet (Source: eMarketer, Feb 2016)! To add to this, Baby Boomers are leaning more and more on their children to help guide them in their purchase decisions. And we all know where those Generation Xers and Millenials are headed when it comes to finding a company – right to their smart phones and computers!
The Real Stats
  •       70% of the population say they “rarely or never” use the phonebook
  •       80% of consumers say they search the internet first when they are looking to buy a new product or service
  •       Several cities are pushing to stop the mandatory delivery of phonebooks due to environmental concerns. It is estimated that 650,000 tons of phonebooks are thrown away each year
  •       The average car shopper only visits 2 dealerships, because they have done all their research online beforehand
So, What’s the Verdict?
            The phonebook is becoming an afterthought for most people, and with all the information Google can provide, people naturally gravitate to online searches. So what do you do from here? We recommend taking those dollars once devoted to phonebooks and putting them where consumers are – online! Invest in Search Engine Optimization and Paid Search so that you can ensure your dealership is at the top of the search results when a potential customer searches the internet for their next car purchase! And most importantly, make sure your Google My Business listing is up to date!
            Now go dig up those old dusty phonebooks and recycle them! You’ll be amazed with all that space you’ll have on your desk now!