Just got polled by the Gallup organization on which Yellow Page product I use.
I spent 25 minutes on the phone with a young woman who had trouble finding the “e” key on her keyboard who asked me repeatedly about my yellow page usage. Obviously “the binding has yet to be broken on my 6 month old Yellow Page Directory” isn’t an option.
“Do you use it at work?”
“No, I use the internet.”
“Please ma’am, yes or no answers. When was the last time you used the Yellow Book Yellow Pages.”
It went on like this for 25 minutes.
Since the third question required that I go retrieve all the yellow page products in my home, I began to question how “objective” the survey could be. She was surprised [and let me know that she was surprised] when I retrieved my collection of 3 Yellow Page products quickly. I keep mine in a bookcase in my office. My neighbors two doors down obviously don’t keep theirs at all. As soon as a new product arrives, I will see the latest edition sitting on top of their garbage can on garbage pick up day during my daily morning walk. Obivously, if the nice Gallup lady had called my neighbors, she couldn’t have included their answers about their use of the yellow pages because they don’t keep them around. Requiring that I have quick and easy access to the directories is a tactic that clearly states, “Skew the results please!”
While her reason for requiring me to locate a copy was to read her the code from the book…. that code didn’t provide ANY information for her. I still had to tell her the date of publication as well as the city listed in the largest print on the front. If the special code I read didn’t tell her that, what did it tell her? I’ll tell you, it told her that my yellow page directories were easily found in my home. THAT is one of the characteristics of a heavy yellow page directory user.
The only Yellow Page product I have used in the past 6 months is the local directory we got just before we moved from Indiana. She definitely didn’t like that answer and tried like heck to tie the copy of Yellow Book I have sitting here with the binding intact to my answers about my last use of the Yellow Pages.
As we finished the call, I reflected on the “accuracy” of the poll. I kept coming back to the “screening” tools built into the poll, clearly designed to provide the results for which they were seeking. This was obviously a poll commissioned in the name of “mining for marketing material”. I mean, how many people who DO NOT use the Yellow Pages keep them around? If you can’t produce your copy of the yellow pages quickly, then the call ends and she moves on to the next “victim”.
So the next time you encounter a yellow page directory’s ad which claims that 90% of homes use their product on a regular basis, just remember how those results were obtained. Oh, and if you’re comissioning your own poll in the name of “mining for marketing data” try not to be so transparent about your efforts to skew the results.