I worked as a Yellow Page consultant for 25 years in the Metro Phoenix area. This city has a unique set of challenges that many other big cities do not face. For example, the climate is the most severe in the country. Summers can average 110 degrees for an entire month. Therefore, air conditioning thrives, while tourist-related companies do not. Still, mild winters also involve Major League spring training, golfers, resort visitors and rallies. Anyone who wants to see the Grand Canyon usually does so via Phoenix. This desert city, the nation's fifth largest, is also the gateway to Mexico to the south, Los Angeles and Las Vegas to the west, New Mexico to the east and Utah to the north.
Snowbirds flock here from the colder Midwest from November to April. Restaurants and hotels are choking with gift shops in malls. The warm winter means more outdoor activities and low heating bills. The tourists fill airports and limousines. Each August, Arizona State University also brings in 60,000 students from around the world. So what does all this mean for the average year-round business trying to make a living? This means you need to be aware of the unique conditions they face when placing their ad in a library that only comes out once a year.
In my 25 years, I spent many hours discussing seasonal issue. Let me describe a typical example. One of the biggest accounts I consulted with was an air conditioner who lived and died with the seasons. Late in May, the warmer temperatures began, ending around mid-October. Although they offered heating, 75% of their business occurred during the summer months. Still, their yellow page ads were mostly for cooling off. They always complained about how unfair it was to be forced to show an ad that did them little good in the winter. Still, the ad listed "heating and cooling" and they got some business for stoves, but not much. I was sympathetic but couldn't do much to change their situation.
Any company that has seasonal loss of customers is in the same boat. But consider other cities. If you offered snowplow service in St. Paul, wouldn't that ad spill in June or August? Restaurants loved snowbirds to help fill their places, but moaned that the locals already knew them and would not look at the yellow pages to find them. I have always explained that the catalog is delivered to the new ones, year round, and it would help them with new customers who did not know them. This is a difficult topic to deal with. I worked every month and every change of temperature brought a new set of dilemmas. Auto-repair people loved the summer because it meant overheated radiators, blown tires and broken air conditioners. The winters caused more flu activity for doctors along with the older snowbirds who needed medication and care.
Sometimes I wish there were six months of books, but then it depends on when they were delivered. A distribution in mid-July or January would not make anyone happier. I’ve always just tried to design the best ad that could work in any season that was affordable in good or bad times. I still consult private advice and offer every Phoenix business the best in personal care. My advice to any area business is to plan an annual budget for their seasonal
advertising program and realize that the income will be erratic, but this year's total is what's important. Design an advertisement that draws both residents and tourists. Concentrate on goods or services that may work well all year round and hope for the best. For more information, go to my site and send an email. I am a year round resident and understand the frustration but have loved living here for over 33 years. And yes, I still used the yellow pages.