I just received the annual call from Yellow Book trying to sell my business advertising space, to which I quickly replied “no thanks”. Which the next response in the sales pitch was “May I ask why not?” To which I replied, “because I don’t need it.”
In this context (local phone book ads) that response is a honest one, as almost anyone who has been in the tech consulting business on a “small shop” scale for a while will probably agree. The cost-benefit just isn’t there until your company is a certain size AND when/if you have a service that a lot of people locally need and/or want. And personally, I’m not all that interested in running a large company just yet. (I’d rather enjoy my time with my children, thus staying a “small business” is the easiest way to do that.)
When we first started out we ran ads in a few places around town to get our name out in front of thousands of people. After two years of that without a single nibble, we have ditched that almost entirely and have focused on what has consistently brought people “in the door”. Word of Mouth (WoM) referrals (referrals from clients, references on blogs and websites, etc.), our website (via search engines), our open source WordPress plugins and of course happy, repeat clients.
The business that we’re in, and our specialty in particular, is still a pretty niche market overall. Thus the vast majority of our clients are out-of-state or out-of-country, which makes perfect sense given that most of what we do is focused on the “online community” and not a geographic community.
So, yes, we honestly don’t need traditional advertising and any local traditional advertising that we may do will serve some other purpose as well. That way, at the very least it helps others’ in the community (like supporting the arts or childrens’ sports leagues).