Not advertising is like being alone in a dark room with the door closed. You know you are there, but no one else does. Most businesses have to advertise if they are going to succeed because it is the basic way new customers learn they are out there.
Yet it is surprising how many small business owners assume that their great idea, or cool location, or bright sign, or good looks, or whatever else it is, will bring people in the door. Here’s what brings new people in the door: advertising. Sure, marketing is great and important, as is networking, and social networking, and customer service, and word of mouth; but advertising is the route with potentially the biggest payoff. Advertising turns the light on —it let's people know you are out there.
Which then begs the question: In this Internet era, is newspaper advertising still a good choice? My answer is yes.
Now of course some caveats apply: Newspaper readership and circulation are declining. Online ads are growing. There are a slew of new choices out there these days.
But that’s the whole point.
Today, it’s not that difficult to get lost in an online advertising campaign, but offline, in the paper, you can be a big fish in a smaller pond, and at a fairly reasonable cost. Sure, unlike some geezers like me, younger people are generally not in the newspaper-reading habit. But if you are targeting a demographic older than, say, 30, newspapers can make a lot of sense.
I am partial to newspaper advertising for many reasons.
- Your ad is physical and, as such, can be clipped (no need for printing.) It can contain details, prices, offers and contact information that is sometimes more difficult to get across (and remembered) with the electronic media.
- Because it is old-school, a physical newspaper ad is not a click, or DVR fast forward, or changing to another station, away.
- People take time with the paper, and thus can really read your ad.
- Studies show that newspaper readers tend to be a little older, better educated, and better off, which sounds like a great customer to many a business.
- As indicated, with fewer ads these days, yours can stand out.
Of course there are downsides to newspaper advertising. A newspaper is generally read once and discarded. Also, ads compete with each other, and with the stories, for the reader’s attention. And, as indicated, newspaper ads target a more specific demographic than other forms of advertising (although that is probably a good thing.)
All of that said, a great ad in the right spot can be the sweet spot. Consider: Where do big advertisers buy ads? Online? Sure. TV? Yep. But if you open your paper, you will see that they are there, too. And the reason savvy advertisers place ads in the paper is simple: It works. Newspaper ads pull.
Success in newspaper advertising requires a few things: You should begin by speaking with an ad rep for the paper. He or she can not only help you get the ad designed in-house, but will also help you devise a budget, choose the right section, and even suggest which days of the week would work best for you.
The toughest question is how big of an ad to run, and how often. The answer is: As much as you can afford. Like most advertising, with newspapers repetition is the key, repetition is the key, repetition is the key. What is the key? See?
In addition, keep in mind that:
- Sunday remains the day that newspapers are read most, but is also the most expensive day to advertise. It is also the day with the most ads and competition.
- Your placement in the paper is critical. If you are willing to pay more, you will be able to choose the page of the section you want, and you should. Page 3 is often best as it is the first page people see when opening the paper. Finding your ad buried on Page 11 is not a pleasant experience.
- It is also usually a good idea to request an outside position for ads as they can be seen easier, and this is especially true if you include a coupon, making them easier to cut out.
Newspapers: The counter-intuitive smart choice.