The headline of this blog isn’t meant to scare you away from skydiving: in general, skydiving has become so commonplace that it’s actually safer than ever. There was only one fatality for every 133,333 dives attempted in 2013 (less than .0001 percent). In fact, even wheelchair-bound former President George H.W. Bush jumped out of an airplane to celebrate his 90th birthday this year.
But despite its safety record, jumping out of a perfectly good airplane is still a pretty dangerous idea – safety is definitely not guaranteed. And renewing your Yellow Pages contract can be equally dangerous for your business.
The Yellow Pages are a sales-based business: they make a lot of their money from making sales to you, the business owner. And because they used to rely so heavily on that thick yellow book, it only made sense for them to offer 12-month contracts; they wanted you on the hook until the next version of the Yellow Pages came out.
The problem is, that book is becoming virtually obsolete. Recently, our CEO went looking for a copy of the Yellow Pages. After a visit to three Safeway stores and an AT&T office, he came back empty handed. Think about that for a moment: do you even know where you can acquire a copy of the Yellow Pages? If you still have a copy in your house, what year is it from?
But the Yellow Pages still want to sign you up for those 12-month contracts regardless. And once they have your name on the dotted line, you’ve lost most of your control. They can promise you all manner of things, but if they fail to deliver, your leverage is minimal.
The 12-month contract also protects the Yellow Pages in case you discover their dirty little secret: you don’t need them anymore. The Yellow Pages had a monopoly on print ads for local businesses; but print is dead. They might promise you help in the internet realm, but you don’t need them there, either.
Digital consumers are savvy, and they’ll look online for local businesses themselves – 74 percent of internet users do. They don’t need YP or anyone else to lead them to your site. So if you do re-up with the Yellow Pages, you’ll end up asking yourself a terrifying question: What, exactly, am I paying for?
In summation, renewing that contract is a lot like skydiving: Will it cause death? Probably not. But it will be a frightening, possibly sickening ride that could feel like freefall.
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