Big news story this week is that Verizon Communications has petitioned the state regulators in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Virginia to stop printing and distributing the white pages for residential customers.  All in all, if Verizon is able to stop distributing the white pages in the 12 states that the company operates in, it estimates that 17,000 pounds of paper will be saved annually.

As more and more people are moving towards online methods of finding names and phone numbers, the printed phone book is quickly becoming a relic. According to a Gallup poll, between 2005 and 2008, use of the white pages has slipped from 25% down to 11%.

Online phone number search does have its advantages. Since the phone is printed only once a year, you can be pretty sure that the information coming from the phone company databases should be accurate. Also, as more and more users are shedding their landlines and moving to cell phones, finding a phone number online may be the only method to reach some people. Printed phone books don’t list cell phone numbers, just landlines.

Unfortunately, the demise of the white pages also means that the business white pages and yellow page listings won’t be far behind. For the same reasons that people are giving up their white pages, they aren’t using the yellow pages either. A quick Google search brings more feature rich information about a business than any yellow page listing can give.

Businesses need to consider this: if you are spending money on a yellow pages advertisement, you may no longer be reaching your target audience. Yellow pages listings can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars per month. In essence, businesses are pouring money into a form of advertising that is no longer relevant to today’s consumers. The online savvy consumer of today will find your business with a Google search, not with a printed book.

Local businesses wanting to connect with local customers shouldn’t consider a large yellow pages listing as part of their marketing plan. As the demise of the white pages illustrate: if consumers aren’t using the white pages, they won’t be likely to use the yellow pages either. Instead, business needs to concentrate on refining their online presence. This can be done with an Internet Marketing analysis of your current online presence. Before you put money into an expensive yellow pages ad for another year, look at Internet marketing for your future advertising needs.