Seriously Effective Print Advertising
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What advertising media should you use to promote your business? Simple. Use the one that is most influential and believable, and that comprehensively reaches the highest percentage of your target audience for the lowest cost.
Is that easy? No.
There are many
advertising media options for reaching your target audience. This chapter covers
the relative strengths and weaknesses of different types of advertising media,
and specifically explains how to choose the most effective printed advertising
is a long chapter with a lot of important content. The information will help you
to plan your advertising and to get better results, even if you are only
choosing what local paper to run your ad in. Thatís what Professional
Advertising is all about.
An Advertising Media Category
The first decision to
make is what category or combination of categories of advertising media to use
[newspaper, magazine, radio, direct mail, television, telemarketing, direct
sales, yellow pages, outdoor, etc.]
Note that we did not
say that the first decision was what the company could afford. It is a
fundamental mistake to buy any advertising media that you canít afford to use
effectively, or that will not generate the volume of sales you
need to stay in business.
companies decide what advertising media to use too fast, and they base the
decision on too little information. Donít make assumptions about what you
should do until you get some information. And you absolutely do not want to make
media decisions based on what media sales rep knocks on your door.
clearly defined set of goals for your advertising campaign will help you to
choose the best advertising media available. Know what you want your advertising
to do, so that you can measure the results and make decisions accordingly. [For
more information on this, please go to myprofessionaladvertising.com].
A realistic budget
should indicate which advertising media could be effectively used for your
campaign. And understanding the relative strengths and weaknesses between the
different advertising media will help you to deliver the right message to the
right person at the right time.
Advertising Media Strengths & Weaknesses
different advertising media are better at doing different things. Depending on
your type of business and your target audience, one advertising media will be
better than another for effectively conveying your message.
For example, photo reproduction quality may be critical to your products. Or information content might be critical. Having a personal conversation may be important. Offering a coupon or a sale price may be the key to success. Timing may be critical. Receiving information from an expected and credible source is hugely important.
Newspapers As An Advertising Media
Radio As An Advertising Media
Television As An Advertising Media
Direct Mail As An Advertising Media
Magazines As An Advertising Media
Outdoor As An Advertising Media
Yellow Pages As An Advertising Media
Effective Frequency In Print Advertising Media
Reach is the total number of different households or individuals that
see your ad enough times to be aware of your message during a specified time
period [normally four weeks].
Frequency is the number of times a household or an individual needs
to be exposed to your message to notice and understand it.
estimating what effective frequency you need to achieve to get your message
through is very important. After all, if you pull or change your ads before your
customers get the message, you will be wasting your advertising budget.
guidelines for print advertising suggest that you give your prospects at least
four viewings within a four week time period to achieve an effective frequency
rate. But if you are a small, local advertiser, you will be playing the game a
There is nothing
wrong with the traditional guidelines, but if you are running your ad only once
a week, about the best exposure rate you can hope for is three viewings in four
weeks. So for your print ads, you want to take a slightly different approach to
achieving an effective frequency rate.
You want to aim to
get five to eight customer viewings of your ad over a longer time period. You
can achieve an effective frequency rate, and make sure that people see and
understand your ad, by letting it run for a longer time period.
So, how long should
you run your ad, and when should you change it?
If you are running a
1/16th page ad, you probably want to let the same ad run for a long
time [indefinitely]. If you want to make special offers with a 1/16th
page ad, then you probably want to let each special offer run for at least a
month to make sure that people see it.
Letís see how we
got to this answer.
This is about the
effective frequency that your 1/16th page ad will achieve. Here is a
rough estimate of what happens in the real world when people read the newspaper:
If you ran a full-page ad one time, you would get about 75% of the people to notice it. A half page would get you 50% of the people. A quarter page ad would get you 30% of the people. An eighth page ad would get you 15%. A sixteenth page ad would get you 8% or so.
1/16th page ad would be seen by only 8 Ė 10% of the people each
time it runs. If people need to see your ad four times, that means you need to
run your ad every week for forty weeks to get all of the readers to notice it
four times. If you were running a quarter-page ad, you would accomplish the same
thing in about ten weeks' time.
So by the traditional definition of effective frequency [four viewings in four weeks], you would never get there.
you have accomplished your goal through sheer determination. You have kept your
ad running long enough to get noticed. Thatís why persistence, budgeting, and
patience are so important in newspaper advertising. You have to be prepared to
stick it out long term to get the results you want.
But 40 weeks?
depends on what you are selling. If you are selling products that people are
interested in [like diet products or newly released music], you may only need to
show your ad a couple of times to get your message through. If you are selling
complicated or expensive services, you will have to run your ad longer.
If you are
a consistent advertiser, people will notice and understand your ad much faster
Ė often with only a single viewing. People will also know to reference your ad
when they are ready to buy what you are selling.
that in the newspaper [and in all print media], your audience will build very
fast. In other words, you are likely to get the majority of the audience to see
your ad within the first few weeks.
implications for your promotion strategy. If you are running larger ads [1/4
page] with special savings offers, you will need to change your promotion on a
regular basis [probably every few weeks] to keep it fresh.
But your main strategy should be to have your ad there when the people are ready to buy what you are selling. Being a consistent advertiser will insure that people will see your ad when they are ready to buy. So maybe running the same ad for 40 weeks is not the answer - you may want to run it forever.
Effective frequency also should be considered in your other marketing activities. If a hot prospect asks for a brochure, then you probably want to send it to them Ė twice. Then you want to send them two follow up post cards, and maybe give them a call. You need to achieve an effective frequency with all of your marketing materials.
golden rule for running your ad is to pull it when response declines. No matter
the theory or the plan, you need to get rid of ads that donít work.
Pick Your Newspaper: Comparing Print Advertising Media
1. What are the demographics the newspaper or magazine is offering? The publisher will send you a complete description of their market. How well is your specific target group represented? Compare different local media against each other for better coverage of your market. Itís well worth the effort.
What media will allow you to best target your trade area? Does the small
community newspaper cover your trade area better than a larger regional paper?
Does the small, local phone book do a better job? Local papers are inexpensive
to advertise in, and they are well read.
Remember - any advertising outside of your trade area is completely wasted.
Remember - any advertising outside of your trade area is completely wasted.
And donít forget that the regional paper can sell you advertising that only appears in your local market. It costs a little more per person reached, but you are reaching the right people.
3. What is the cost per thousand impressions [CPM] for your specific target audience for each newspaper or magazine?
the simplest example, if two newspapers are charging the same amount for an ad
space, and one paper delivers twice as many people in your target audience, then
your cost per thousand is half what it is in the other paper.
And what discounts are being offered? If you are going to be a long-term advertiser, the paper should have a discounted rate for you. But donít forget Ė advertising will only work if it convincingly reaches your target audience. Price is not the most important consideration when you buy media.
Donít assume that one newspaper is better than another. For example, morning
papers tend to have a wider geographic circulation, and are read by more men.
Evening papers have a higher female audience. Which hits your target group
morning paper can get you sales in the afternoon. An evening paper might be used
to get a family to talk and think about a purchase the following day. What fits
Talk to your customers, and ask them what they read and why. Ask them if they read each newspaper by name, and how often they read it. Ask if they are subscribers, and ask how many other people in the house [and in your target audience] read the paper.
Make each newspaper send you their demographic information [in writing Ė not verbally from the salesperson]. Tell them exactly who your target audience is, and ask how they specifically target that audience. Each newspaper has special sections, issues, and coverage that are designed to appeal to specific target audiences. What do they have for your target audience?
Remember, the most important thing is whether or not the paper is being read by your target group. A large, regional paper may have a huge subscriber base of people that only lightly read the paper [except on Sunday when they read it thoroughly]. A local, weekly paper focusing on your specific neighborhood may get read cover to cover, every time. Ask your customers.
5. What environment does the paper provide? Is the paper well liked and believable? Has it taken an editorial position [like endorsed a political candidate or a controversial measure] that has alienated your target audience? [Their alienation may naturally be extended beyond just the paper to all of the advertisers in the paper].
Is the paper seen as an authority on issues related to your business? Do you
need to associate yourself with the most authoritative or prestigious paper or
magazine you can? If you need the prestige, then pay for it. Donít waste your
money advertising in the wrong place. It
is true that often the media is the message.
6. You normally want to advertise in the same newspaper as your competition is advertising in. That is probably where most of your clients are looking for information.
Sometimes this goes against some of the other strategies for picking the best paper to run your ad in. If you can, run ads in different papers for six to eight weeks [with coupons or offers coded to tell you where the ad ran], and see which works better. The longer you run your test, the better. Testing is the key to effective advertising.
7. It is normally a good strategy to spend your advertising budget where your current customers are coming from. Certainly you can try new media outlets for getting new customers, but it is normally more expensive to get new customers from new media than it is to get new customers from your regular media. As always, go slow, and test.
8. There is also advertising theory to consider when you decide on what newspaper or magazine to choose. The recency theory of advertising states that you want to reach as many people as you can as close to the time that they are going to make a purchase as possible.
This means that you want them to receive your advertisement in the Saturday morning newspaper for their Saturday afternoon shopping. To best take advantage of this timing, you may have to change what newspaper you are advertising in. As always, testing is the way to find out.
position your ad gets in the paper is very important. A quarter-page ad that
falls on the fold of the paper will only get 50% of the readership that a
quarter-page ad in the upper right hand corner will get. Bad positioning just
lost you half of your customers.
What is the paper
offering? Run of press
[ROP] positioning means that the publisher is free to place your ad anywhere in
the normal pages of the paper.
With a preferred
position, your ad goes in a specific section, or near the top of a
page that has reading matter on it. A near reading [NR]
position is placement anywhere on a page near reading matter.
You want your ad to
be on a page where people spend time reading. The longer they stay on the page
with your ad the better. You normally will pay a premium of 10% - 50% for good
position, but itís probably worth it.
What deal is the
newspaper offering? Good positioning could double or even triple response. Make
sure you are comparing apples to apples when you compare different papers or
magazines and what they are offering.
And donít forget
that people look at different parts of the newspaper to get different
information. Ever notice how ads selling the same things are grouped together?
If you place your ad in the wrong location in the paper, your customer will miss
it. If you place it on the wrong day of the week, your customer will miss it. Make
sure your ad runs at the right time and in the right place.
10. The Rate
Base is the real number of copies of a newspaper or magazine that get
printed and sold. Readership is the average
number of readers per copy sold.
The readership number
reflects the pass-along rate of the newspaper. Itís important to understand
actual readership rates when comparing one paper against another. And the rate
base is important because just printing a newspaper doesnít mean that people
are actually reading it.
Would a publisher do that Ė print more copies than people buy or read to boost circulation figures? No. Publishers donít play those games.
But letís just say
that many of the newspapers that get printed never get read. And letís just
say that publishers make money on the advertising, not on the subscription money
they get. And if a newspaper doesnít get read, then itís not worth the paper
itís printed on. [Never use clichťs in advertising!]. Just be careful. Talk
to your customers about what they read, and listen.
11. One more
note here. Media sales reps have lots of terminology and a lot of facts and
figures. In fact, they know their market very well. But a bunch of advertising
talk about brand awareness and ad awareness and attitude and purchase intent
doesnít matter. Itís sales that matter. Make the media reps prove that they
are better than the next guy. Pick the credible media that delivers your
specific target audience at the best price.
Using Advertising Media In Combination
almost always use a combination of different media to promote their products.
This strategy makes sense for a number of reasons, but mainly because it is cost
effective. So, is this a good idea for a small, local business?
answer is a resounding YES, but on a slightly different scale. You certainly
want to maximize your marketing through coordination.
Letís take a look
at how your advertising reach is increased when you use different media in
the percentage of people in your total target audience that you reach when you
advertise in the newspaper. Here is a good example of what is going on in the
a newspaper ad you reach 25% of your total target group. Add a yellow page ad,
and you reach an additional 18% of the people. Add a direct mail piece, and you
reach an additional 19% of the people. Add television advertising, and you reach
an additional 15% of the people. Add radio, and you reach an additional 8% of
using multiple media outlets you have reached more of your target audience with
your marketing and advertising. You have also reached them multiple times
because they get messages from different places.
messages reinforce each other. The result is an overall higher response at a
lower cost. You have created synergy with your marketing and advertising.
works because different people pay more attention to [and have more faith in]
different types of media. When seriously reviewing ads for a product, about 25%
of people review and trust the newspaper. 18% consider direct mail, 21% the
yellow pages, 8% television, 4% radio, and 4% magazines.
numbers in our examples are only an approximation of what really happens in the
marketplace, and they change according to product category. But it is clear that
by using different kinds of media [like the yellow pages and direct mail
together], or even different media outlets, [like multiple newspapers], you can
and will reach more potential customers more effectively with your marketing and
is the matter of overlap between the different media to consider. You have to
assume that the different media will duplicate your message with a percentage of
your target audience beyond the effective frequency level required.
way to calculate the overlap is to take the total expected reach of each media
as a percentage, subtract each one from 1, and multiply them together. Umm,
letís look at an example.
your newspaper ad achieves a 25% reach, and your yellow page ad achieves a 20%
reach, then you get:
1 - .25 =
1 - .20 =
.75 x .80 =
.06, or six-percent
You can safely assume
that six percent of the people will have received your message from both the
yellow pages and the newspaper. You have an overlap rate of six percent.
Thus you have not reached
25% + 20% = 45% of the people. Instead, you have reached 25% + 20% - 6% = 39% of
the people. You have to subtract out your overlap to understand how many people
you reach when you use different media in combination.
In any case, some
overlap is not a bad thing for a local advertiser. What counts is that people
understand that the different ads found in the different media are all coming
from you. If you are using different media, make sure your ads are similar
enough so that people know itís you. Thatís the way to get synergy in your
Choose Your Best Media
Each kind of media
has advantages and disadvantages. How can you figure out what to do? Understand
what kinds of media are available to you. Understand what they cost and whom
they reach. Understand where your customers are looking for information. Test
different ads and media, and measure the results. [And keep testing over time].
Your work will be richly rewarded.
forget that the media you select has a great influence on your advertising
effectiveness and believability. What is the difference between an ad in the
newspaper and a flyer on your car? Effectiveness and believability. What is the
difference between a column listing and a display ad in the yellow pages? The
difference is effectiveness and believability. What is the difference between
the smallest ad, and the biggest, most professional ad? A whole lot of
Ask For Help
As always, we strongly recommend that you ask a marketing professional to review your media strategy. Itís a small investment that offers very big returns in advertising effectiveness. Picking the wrong media will cost you money and customers, so getting a little help may be a good idea.
How to better use advertising media is a big subject, and itís easy to go wrong. We hope that we have provided some guidance for your media program. If a second opinion from a professional would be helpful, please contact Professional Advertising.