The Aztec god Huitzilopochtli required the sacrifice of some fifty thousand beating human hearts every year. The Aztecs zealously provided them, knowing that failure to do so would result in all manner of disaster, from flood and famine to failure of the sunrise and even the collapse of the universe itself. In Memorial Service, H. L. Mencken observes that, despite the magnitude of these propitiations, Huitzilopochtli is all but forgotten. Yet the sun continues to rise.
Once a year, those of us who run businesses are likely to receive a visit from another profit of doom; the Yellow Pages rep. Like an Aztec priest, the Yellow Pages rep elicits sacrifice through the employment of fear, uncertainty and doubt. This is such a well known sales technique that it even has an acronym: FUD. Organisations employing FUD do so because their product can't be sold on its merits. It's an unscrupulous tactic but an effective one (just ask any politician).
While Yellow Pages advertising has always relied on FUD (think back to their TV ads portraying the dire predicament of those who missed the close date) it once had some basis in fact. Well aware of that, Yellow Pages (Sensis) charged fees so extortionate they made Aztec live heart extraction seem painless. While the charges have been falling as Google, and the web in general, erode Sensis' market share to the point of collapse, Yellow Pages advertising is still expensive. But every year, many businesses still fork over the cash, like they always have, just in case. Its time to stop. The sun will still rise.
The first month I started using Google advertising I was shocked to find it was precisely ten times more effective (in terms of people actually making contact) than Yellow Pages, at a fraction of the cost. A year or so on, the effectiveness of Google AdWords blows the Yellow Pages into well deserved oblivion, so much so that I limit, and frequently suspend, AdWords because it is too effective! Don't swallow the Sensis line that you need them for online advertising; you don't. A few hours spent learning about Google Analytics and other tools can not only save you a lot of money, but it gives you a lot more control over the targeting of your advertising. There's no reason to pay Sensis a cent when one can deal direct with Google.
Aside from the rapidly diminishing relevance and growing ineffectiveness of the Yellow Pages, on or off line, I will leave you with two more reasons to leave the dinosaur to fossilise. 1: The forest they cut down every year to deliver directories to our recycling bins. Most people, having tripped over the pile left at the front door, either file the directories (undisturbed in a dark place) for a year before they land in the bin, or drop them there on delivery. It's not only all that paper but the fuel used to dump directories at every home and business in the country. One can opt out of Yellow Pages deliveries and save a forest and an icecap here. 2: No more dealing with Sensis Drones. Sensis is infamous for being almost as fun to deal with as the Taliban. Every year that book was delivered, I'd hold my breath in anticipation of what they had managed to cock up this time. Almost every year they would find new ways to lower a bar that wouldn't daunt a centipede.
Thankfully, those days are over. Shares in Sensis now hold almost as much appreciation potential as those in Blockbuster. Many have predicted its final demise in as little as five years. Don't be there when that leaky boat goes down. Old Yeller's dead. And not before time.