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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How to Choose the Right Print Advertiser

Here are some simple and easy to follow tips for choosing a print advertiser (newspapers, magazines, trade journals, news circulars- including those you find at local coffee shops and retail stores) for those of you who still think print advertising is a good use of your advertising budget. It assumes you know your target market well and have a compelling message/offer. If you have not nailed down those things yet, stop right now and go back and do that! That may be the best money saving advice I can give you on the subject. And it took you less than 20 seconds into reading this to make it worth your while. You'll thank me later! :)

1) They reach your target audience. Not a large readership, not someone else’s target audience… your target audience. It does not matter how many readers a publication has or how many homes or businesses your ad will appear in if most of them are not your ideal prospects. As a small business, chances are you don’t have the money for image ads and purely awareness building ads. You can’t afford an ad in a large publication with tens of thousands of readers. If you do, there are most likely hundreds of ways you could better spend that money. Your ads need to reach your target market- people who need and want what you have to offer.

2) There is reasonable expectation that your intended audience will actually see and/or read your ad. It is large enough for people to notice it and for you to get out the information needed to grab people’s interest and spur them to action. You need space to include a compelling “call to action.”

3) They provide the frequency needed to spur action or effect a change in your prospect’s buying behavior. It usually takes several impressions (how many times an ad is seen) before a prospect buys. I have heard it takes anywhere from 3 impressions to 9. This really depends on your product, normal buying cycle, and how well you market it (pricing, promotion, etc.). Make sure the ad or ads will be seen by your target audience multiple times. Often you can negotiate for a volume discount when purchasing multiple ad runs.

4) The print medium is consistent with your business goals including establishing, maintaining, or building your brand/image. If your target market is hunting enthusiasts for example, don’t advertise in a magazine geared toward opera lovers. Make sure the quality of the magazine or newspaper (paper, print, and writing quality) are all consistent with your brand. It’s ok to use your small local magazine to run ads in if you happen to be selling used cars, computer repair services, or fast food. But what if you sell antiques, fine jewelry, or luxury cars or yachts? Do you want to show an ad of your impressive items on low quality paper next to an ad for Joe’s bait shop or an article that looks like it was written by a 7th grader? I don’t think so! By the way, the same goes in reverse. Don’t advertise in a fancy, high quality journal if your product or service is a more every day, mundane item or your target audience has different tastes and expectations. Nothing against those things- we all need toilet paper and various other sundries- but we don’t expect and ad in Esquire touting a great deal on them at the local dollar store. Know your target market and their expectations!

5) The price reflects the value derived from the investment. Evaluate your potential return (revenue directly related to the Ad) in light of the price of the ad. An ad that costs only $25 but generates $0 in revenue provides NO value and is only an expense. Your business does not need another expense, especially in this economic climate. However, an ad that costs $1000 that generates $2000, $5,000 or $10,000 is an investment that the savviest investor would be willing to take in a New York minute! Calculate how many sales must be made and the profit that must be earned in order to gain at least a market rate of economic return. What is an economic rate of return you ask? It is the rate of return that takes into account all the economic costs of your business (cost of goods sold, wages and salaries, including your own, gen. and admin., rent, utilities, and other operating expenses) plus factors in a normal rate of profit for your industry given the current economic conditions. So if your business’ economic costs are $10 per unit sold and the current normal industry profit margin is 10%, then your business must achieve a gross profit of at least $11 per unit. From this point, factor in the price of the advertising to determine 1) if the ad is feasible (will it generate the bare minimum required return of investment? And 2) is this the best use of my advertising dollars? Will it likely generate the maximum return possible for my investment?

These are the general rules for choosing a print advertiser but some can be applied to other media as well (TV, radio, outside advertising, even the internet). But each product and business has its own set of circumstances and can benefit from more specific guidelines. Consult with a professional for more detailed advice before taking the plunge into anything costing more than a few hundred bucks. But start with these principles first. Follow these 5 simple rules and you will eliminate 90% or more of your print advertising choices and make your remaining options much easier to wade through and select from.

Please visit our website to download the FREE Report Top 10 Free and Low Cost Ways to Attract Attention to Your Business!

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