You’re a small business with a limited budget. Which do you choose: Website or phone book ad?
When you’re looking at the marketing budget it’s important to realize that comparing websites and phone book advertising is like comparing apples and oranges.
First and foremost, being listed in the phone book is advertising. A website is much more than advertising. Your options are pretty limited with a phone book ad. But the sky (or the budget) is the limit with a website.
Let’s look at a few specifics:
The cost of both a website and a phone book ad can vary wildly depending on what you want and where you live. You can get a site for free. Or you can pay loads of money. A phone book ad isn’t going to be free and it shouldn’t cost loads of money, but depending on where you live it will easily cost several hundred dollars and could cost more depending on what kind of extras you want.
Time & Timing
The time commitment for a website and a phone book ad also vary wildly. A phone book ad by its very nature is a do it and forget it type of proposition. You place the ad and you’re done. A website, however, shouldn’t be so static. A successful website will be constantly updated and that’s going to take more time.
But in addition to your time, you should consider timing. A phone book ad is static and at best you can probably update it once a year. But a website is constantly changing. You can update it multiple times a day if you like. A phone book also comes infrequently, while a new website can go live in a few days.
A final factor to consider is the audience. Websites are worldwide. Phone books are local. The phone book audience tends to skew older while websites tend to skew younger (but that’s changing). Websites obviously require Internet access (do you know what percentage of your audience uses the Internet?). Phone book ads are also beginning to create backlash among people who see them as wasteful.
All of these differences are peanuts when you consider the basic difference: a phone book ad is a directory listing. A website is whatever you want it to be. In the end you need to make a decision based on what works best for your business. If your business is primarily local and relies on an older audience, a phone book ad might make a lot of sense. If your business is worldwide or taps into a younger audience, a website is a clear winner.
If you really can’t decide, you can always have both. Pairing a website with a phone book ad gives you the best of both worlds.