Newspaper and Magazine Advertising

How to Get the Most out of Your Adverts

Woman reading a newspaper

Newspaper advertising can help micro-businesses

Anyone could be forgiven for thinking that newspaper and magazine advertising is a guaranteed method of achieving enquiries and sales. A quick glance though any publication shows the massive volume of advertisers. It’s tempting to think; ‘place an advert, and they’ll come’.

Unfortunately the reality is very different. Look through that same newspaper and think about how many adverts are actually noticed. Of those noticed, how many are read and subsequently acted upon? Very few.

That said, if done correctly it can be very useful for a micro-business and is still one of the most popular forms of advertising media used in the UK.

So how do you take advantage of it?

There are some questions that need to be asked first.

First of all, is it an appropriate form of advertising for you? Read Customer Purchasing Processes and Types of Advertising to find out if it is worth considering.

Then you can consider which titles to use, together with whether to promote the micro-business’s brand generally or specific products. Then you can consider how large and colourful the advert might need to be.

Choosing Which Titles to Advertise In

Magazine with text and adverts

There is a wide selection of different magazines available

Your choices fit into the following broad categories:

  • Local publications, normally covering a small geographical area or community such as your local town.
  • Regional or national newspapers, but these are often more suited to national brands rather than local companies.
  • Lifestyle magazines, generally focused on ways of living or enhancing life. Many women’s magazines fit into this category as do home styling magazines.
  • Interest-based, which are often focused on hobbies and pastimes, such as anglers, knitters or woodworkers.
  • Vocational, which are focused on particular types of jobs and professions, such as the marketer for marketing professionals or The Grocer.

Don’t just pick the most obvious title as sometimes a bit of lateral thinking can work wonders. Perhaps your product has most appeal among the 55-65 year old age group. Rather than advertising generally you might be better advertising in an interest-based publication where the predominant readership is in that age-group, e.g. gardening.

Promoting Brands or Products?

Brand awareness advertising makes the readership more aware of a product or company. It may not make them buy immediately, but when they are next in the buying cycle they may look in a directory or online, see the name of a company who has advertised and go to them because they recognise the name.

Product or direct response advertising is aimed at getting someone to buy or enquire immediately. A direct response advert will have the website address or telephone number prominently displayed and may also have an offer encouraging prospects to buy now, e.g. ‘Sale this weekend’.

Your buying process will indicate what type of advertising you are best to focus on.

Size and colour

Bigger doesn’t always mean best, but colour usually performs better than black and white. All businesses will have an optimal size but this can only really be discovered through testing. Set a budget and then try out various sizes, formats and colour arrangements using the techniques in Can Advertising be Measured? until you find what works best. Then, keep testing in case things change or you find something better. Guidance on conducting effective tests is given in Testing.

Where to Position the Advert

The main point to consider here is whether it should be in the Classified section or ‘run-of-the-page’. Classified is always at the back and contains lots of adverts, usually grouped into categories. Run-of-the-page is in the main body of the publication but costs much more.

Classified adverts are more likely to be spotted by someone looking for something specific, whereas run-of-the-page could be spotted by all readers, potentially appealing to a much larger audience. The lower costs of classified advertising often make it very attractive but think carefully about whether it is the right place to be. The reader needs to be actively interested in the product and willing to hunt out the advertising section covering that specific area.

Don’t forget to analyse the results of your advertising using the techniques in Measuring Marketing.