The Marketing Lesson from the Archaic Phone Book Skip to main content
Powered By Book That In

Toddle About Advertising Blog

The Marketing Lesson from the Archaic Phone Book

Main Image

Something rather unexpected popped through my letterbox this week...

It was a BT Phone Book! You remember those?

It was like seeing an old friend from the 90s. Honestly, I had to double-check the calendar to confirm I hadn’t somehow time travelled.

I was totally taken aback because I genuinely believed these chunky directories were extinct!

I mean, why on earth would they still be in print?

In the Freed household, we got rid of our landline a couple of months ago, and we haven't missed it. I’m pretty sure if you still have one, you rarely use it.

And if I needed to contact someone, my first instinct wouldn’t be find their phone number… even if I had a Phone Book to hand.

I’d look for them on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn and contact them there.

Would it be different if I were on the hunt for a local business? Nope. I'd be straight on Google.

The Phone Book wouldn't even occur to me.

So, flipping through the business listings of the Phone Book, I felt a twinge of sadness. It was like seeing hard-earned money fluttering away, thinking of all those businesses investing their marketing budget in something so archaic.

But then I realised I was making a pretty stupid assumption…

Sure, to the tech-savvy among us, the Phone Book might seem redundant.

But there's a demographic out there for whom technology isn't second nature. Many of the 'older generation' won’t be scrolling Instagram or Googling away - for them, the phone book is familiar, perhaps even essential.

So - before I tossed it in the recycling - I had a closer look at who was actually advertising in this relic of the past.

Sure enough, there was a clear trend: services tailored to older folks. Everything from stairlifts and drain clearances to home maintenance.

One that really caught my eye? A full-page ad from a funeral director. Morbid? Maybe. Smart advertising strategy? Absolutely.

It got me thinking – just how often do we assume what's best for our business based on our personal preferences?

It's so easy to get caught up in our own bubble and forget that our customers might be living in a totally different one.

It's crucial that we to step into their shoes. Or in this case, their reading glasses.

The Phone Book saga was a gentle reminder for me, and hopefully for you too, about the power of perspective.

True, the Phone Book probably won’t be the go-to advertising medium for businesses like ours - but it might not be Facebook or Google either.

The whole thing reminded me of a fundamental truth in business: 

Always, always think from your customer's perspective.

What magazines are they reading? What social media channels are they using? Where do they hang out (physically or digitally)?

That's where you need to be.

Till next time,