I've eliminated my phone book ads. I have run them for the past 9 years, and they did somewhat of a good job. But, what I have noticed, is that they have become a non-factor. In my business, anyway.
Problem is, where I live, I was running a smaller leader ad, (first on page and another one last on page in same book) - others run 1/2, 1/4 page ads. We had 25 ads. It's easy to get lost in the shuffle. I was getting less and less from the phone book. My word of mouth has become so good I decided to eliminate the ads (ran them in 2 books, ran a combined 800 a month at one point. ).
I had other guys telling me I was commiting suicide. But, in fact, the opposite has happened. I have more business than I can handle. I get new customers from many sources. #1 is word of mouth. #2 is networking. I network with several groups, and get very good results. #3 is internet. Get lots of people who find me on google. #4 is many FREE (yes, I said free) advertising sources. To name a few, Cards on corkboards at Supermarkets, banks, restuarants. My cards and a little display ad sit at 14 locations. Also, enlist handymen, other trades guys (plumbers, electricians, remodelers) to throw you jobs. (this is all part of networking).
End point........................... Phone book ads may be necessary evil in most locations. Especially when starting out. I definately needed them and I got a lot of business from them. You need a customer base. But.........................as your customer base grows, you may find the phone book ads not worth the money you are paying for them. I just grew tired of sending them checks for 835 a month (that's a LOT OF BEER, JW) without enough of return. People all have smart phones now, and would rather google you than turn pages of a phone book. We're in a different time now.