| Two former General
Telephone Co. employees say many businesses spend too much
on Yellow Pages advertising.
So, they've formed a consulting
firm to show companies how to spend less and get the same
"The theory is the bigger
the ad, the better off you are, but that's not necessarily
so in the phone book," says Matt Tonning, Jayco
Agency sales manager and former Yellow Pages salesman for
G.T.E. in Spokane. "We find many advertisers do
very well on less than half what they are spending with
the telephone company."
Tonning is in the Seattle area
this week pitching that message to local businesses at the
same time Pacific Northwest Bell and General Telephone
sales forces are out drumming up advertising for next
year's phone books.
"Obviously we're not popular
with the phone company," he says.
Since Tonning and his partner,
Jay Valiquette, quit General Telephone's Spokane sales
division to form the Jayco Agency last January, they
estimate they've cost phone companies $1 million in lost
Yellow Pages advertising --money they say businesses can
spend better on other types of advertising, Tonning says.
Jayco charges a fee of 15 to 35
per cent of the amount a business saves by reducing its
Yellow Pages ads.
Tonning says companies often run
ads that are too large, list their names under too many
classifications and advertise in the wrong phone books for
Studies show most people who turn
to the Yellow Pages have already made up their mind to
buy, he says. People want phone numbers and
locations, not a fancy sales pitch, he adds.
"They're not knocking the
Yellow Pages, they're just saying an awful lot of money is
spent on Yellow Pages advertising that maybe isn't
necessary," says Bruce Angell, president of the
Fuzzy-Wuzzy Rug Co., in Seattle. Angell hired Jayco
to plan his phone-book advertising this year after he
decided on his own he wanted to reduce the size of his
"Bell had a big push on last
year for half-page ads and my feeling is it's a terrible
waste of money," Angell said. "We simply
didn't want to repeat it. I essentially gave Jayco a
budget and said that's what we're going to spend. They
accomplished what we wanted : a much lower
Jayco usually advises businesses
to reduce their ads from half-or quarter-page vertical ads
to smaller horizontal ads. These ads are cheaper and
usually end up in the middle of a classification." We
know that most people open the phone book from the back
and end up somewhere in the middle of a classification
rather than at the front," Tonning said.
There are some types of
businesses that benefit from big ads, Tonning admits.
"The size of the ad will
make a difference with any type of emergency
service. The bigger the phone number, the
better and you need a big ad for that."
On the other hand, he says, large
display ads do beauty shops little good because few people
select a hairdresser based on an advertisement.
General Telephone has countered
Jayco's tactics with letters telling its customers they
may risk a preferred position or page if they reduce the
size of their ads.
"We've been informed by
letter to stay out of all G.T.E. offices," Tonning
says. "G.T.E. has taken it personally because
Jay and I used to work for them."
Jayco has had no problems with
Pacific Northwest Bell," Tonning said.
John Ferguson, G.T.E.'s Spokane
divisional sales manager, refused to talk to a reporter
about Jayco's practices. He asked for questions in
James Moznette, spokesman for
Pacific Northwest Bell, says salesmen review their
customers' ads each year to make sure they are buying
space that will do them the most good..
"We don't try to oversell
and we don't try to undersell," Moznette
says. "The customer has the final say
about the size of his advertisement. If he wants to
reduce his advertising, he can come to us and we don't
charge a thing."
Moznette said Bell's Yellow Pages
advertising has grown steadily in the past few
years. He declined to say how fast it has
grown or the number of customers who increase the size of
their ads each year.
Yellow Pages advertising is one
of Bell's three largest sources of profit. Long-distance
calling and special equipment are the others.