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Archive for February, 2011

Print Directories: Yellowing with Age

Ever seen an old, outdated book? The pages are yellow, crackling, and faded. They’re sometimes cherished, perhaps even immortalised in some library where people can gasp in wonder at all that it represents. But no-one turns its pages, except perhaps some specialist bibliophile. And those are the lucky books; the rest become landfill, or unvisited – even embarrassing – monuments to dead trees.

Such is the fate of the traditional yellow page directory. Why? In an age of online directories, print directories are like clay tablets: large, cumbersome, limited, and unwieldy.

Even then, the comparison can’t emphasise just how obsolete they’ve become, all over the world. If you’re a business owner, you normally can’t get your details printed in them without paying a regular fee. You can’t easily edit the information without calling up the publisher. And even if you get your details in there, that’s it: you’re in a single publisher’s directory, viewable only to people who get the printed brick dropped outside their door. And what if there’s a mistake in the book, or your details change? No fixes will be forthcoming until the next print run.

Compare that with something like Bizwiki, for example: anyone can submit their business details to it, covering a wide range of information – information about your company, your email addresses, website addresses, and phone numbers – far beyond the traditional few words you’re limited to in print. Anyone can edit the business information as well, which makes it exceptionally easy to keep the information up-to-date and current. Best of all, it’s completely free. There’s no pushy sales people to deal with trying to sell you extras; it’s completely in your control, and that’s the way it should be.

On top of that, anyone using a search engine like Google looking for “Plumbers in Aldershot” or “Attorneys in Austin, Texas” is a potential customer. (Not to mention that, depending on your business, your potential customers could now be located anywhere in the UK, US or even the whole world, instead of being limited to a particular geographic location). Plus, if you add your details to Bizwiki UK, for example, you’ll appear in other directories on-line, like, increasing your exposure.

Then, consider the user, or customer, who wants to find a business. Printed directories have one method of organisation: dumping everything into categories, and organising them alphabetically. You can’t search by postcode, zip code, state, town or city. You can’t search for a particular business name. In short, with on-line directories, the customer is not limited to one particular method of finding business information.

Then, there’s the issue of portability. Mobile phone usage across the world has sky-rocketed. If you’re on the train, and want to find a nearby restaurant, tome-like yellow page monstrosities can’t sit there conveniently in your back-pocket.

Realistically, the only thing yellow-page style printed directories are destined for is the recycling bin. Alternatively, you could have a bit of fun and collect them from your neighbours, dump them on the doorstep of the publisher, and get scolded for creating a fire hazard. But, the point is, we simply don’t use them anymore, because they’ve been superseded by a new medium that is more current, accurate, and easy to use, for both business owners and customers. Plus, digital content isn’t made of dead trees, and that can only be a good thing.

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