When you last had a yellow pages telephone directory delivered to your home, you likely noticed that it was the smallest directory you have received to date. With the Internet having become the dominant means by which business reach consumers, few businesses invest in more than a basic listing or a small in-line ad. Should your law practice abandon the phone book, or does it still make sense to purchase an in-line or display ad?
It should go without saying that you would consider the cost of any advertisement that you run in relation to your overall advertising budget. But you should also compare the cost of the proposed yellow pages ad to other things you might be able to accomplish within your budget -- it may make much more sense to use the money to expand your web presence or to engage in search engine marketing as opposed to purchasing a Yellow Pages ad.
Which practice area has traditionally relied the most on yellow pages ads? Personal injury, of course. That doesn't necessarily mean that their yellow pages ads will be profitable, but if you're trying to recruit clients where a small number of good clients can bring in large returns for your firm, the cost of yellow pages advertising may be a reasonable investment. If your competitors have abandoned the Yellow Pages, while that's not a guarantee that they're no longer cost-effective it's a pretty good indication that your money would likely be better spent elsewhere.
The demographics of your client pool may affect your decision. If you are marketing your practice to young adults, you will find that many have little conception of what the Yellow Pages are, let alone why somebody would use them. If you are marketing to senior citizens, some may still prefer or rely exclusively on a printed telephone directory.
If you are making an appreciable investment in your yellow pages ad, you should do your best to track the referrals you receive from that ad. Consider using a dedicated telephone number for the ad that forwards to your regular phone line, so that you can track the number of calls received. Any yellow pages ad above the most basic should include your website URL (the full website address). Consider using a special URL in your ad that redirects to the primary website URL, but allows you to track the number of people who reach your website by using the URL they find in your yellow pages ad. (If that's difficult to understand, ask your web designer -- it's cheap and easy to do).
If you establish a mechanism to track referrals and to establish your return on investment (ROI) for your marketing materials, you should quickly get a sense of whether you are spending too much in any given area, including your yellow pages ad.