Directories: Just Say, er …Why?

I see that some directory scammers have been criminally charged in Canada, the sort of news which always lifts my spirits. Why – or perhaps how – companies continue to sign up for directories, diaries, wallcharts and the like (online and offline), has always mystified me. But they do. And don’t get me started on the magazines which don’t exist.

If you’re paying money to appear in something, of course you check to see if it exists, don’t you? Judging by the number of these things about, it would appear that there are enough people who don’t even do that. However, the much bigger problem as far as I’m concerned is not the amount of money going to fraudulent publications, but the amount of money going to publications which are, quite simply, rubbish. Why do they continue to get away with it? Because advertisers can’t be bothered to find out if they’re value for money, that’s why. Directories trade on fear. They don’t have to prove they’re any good, just convince you that your competition will all be there and you’ll look bad if you’re not there.

But if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? If you don’t think anybody’s going to use this directory (and does anybody use a directory nowadays?), why should it matter if you’re not in it? And even if you’ve not got the courage of your convictions to take that step, at least set up a way of measuring the results you get from the directory – a dedicated telephone number or URL …whatever it takes.

What are your experiences of directories nowadays? And are there differences between printed and web-based directories in terms of effectiveness?