By Erika Hovland
Recently, someone came in to a client’s retail business to sell magazine advertising, while we were on site. As the individual went through her pitch, she emphasized the benefits of her monthly periodical: it’s displayed in waiting rooms of local businesses, often passed around and read (average of 5 times), and features articles written on key related subjects. When she was finished, we felt intrigued, enticed and interested. It’s a natural reaction to a good sales presentation.
Yet, was this a good investment for our client?
Here are three questions to help evaluate whether to spend money on print advertising:
1. Is the publication is read by people who will buy your services/products? It should be a good demographic match.
Who reads the magazine? Are they women? Men? What age range? What income range? What are their interests / hobbies?
Most importantly – is this the same demographic you are interested in targeting? If the answer is “yes”, continue on to question 2.
2. Is the cost worth it? You need to believe that the cost will generate results.
First, ask questions about the publication’s circulation. How many copies do they produce? How many are distributed to regular subscribers versus people who purchase it at the stands?
Second, calculate how much you are actually spending per edition. You may hear sales people talk about “impressions” or “cost per impression.” This often comes up when they are mentioning online ads in their e-magazine or online editions. But there is a good opportunity here to think about an advertisement in a print version this way, too. Take the cost of the advertisement (let’s say $2500) and divide it by the circulation (let’s say 10,ooo). In this case, it would cost you $0.25 per impression.
Third, reduce your expectations. We all know that (1) every copy isn’t read, (2) every advertisement isn’t noticed and (3) not every copy is being sent to your exact target market. In other words, you won’t get results from every impression.
As a rule of thumb, you might estimate that about 25% of the circulation would see your ad. Then your math would look like this: 25% x 10000 = 2500 people who would see your ad. Then the cost becomes:
2500 people exposed to your ad / $2500 = $1 per ‘true’ impression
Is it worth the money to reach your audience in this way?
3. How many advertisements should you place? Decide whether you want to advertise once, quarterly, annually, or periodically.
A key question is “what is the editorial calendar for this publication?” Each publication generally has a theme for the month. The theme is usually presented on the cover page of the magazine, for example “Top Travel Destinations on the West Coast” or “Best Chefs in the United States,” and becomes the feature article for that edition. If you are thinking about choosing to advertise just once, we strongly recommend you choose an edition where the content relates to your business.
Generally speaking, consumers tend to remember advertisements more frequently when they have seen them several times. Therefore, it may make sense to place the same ad in multiple editions of a magazine.
However, you should also think about how many other ways you can reach the same target audience at the same time. Effective marketing efforts are often geared to reach the same people in multiple ways. For example, the month(s) you advertise in the magazine, supplement this advertising by making it part of a bigger marketing effort: run an online advertising campaign on Facebook or Google AdWords, host a Twitter party, do a direct mail with a postcard, buy advertising on buses or trains, etc.
You may find that an intensive “pulse” or push, during a short timeframe, gets you better results than a steady reminder. This will partly depend upon whether your brand is well-established or if you are trying to build awareness of your brand. If you are building awareness, strongly consider starting with the intensive multi-channel approach.
There are some ways to increase the odds of your ad being noticed. One, of course, is to have a great advertisement. Another way is to place your advertisement by the Table of Contents, or adjacent to an article that is discussing a subject related to your business.
If the publication offers an online edition, ask if they will post the advertisement there as well, and negotiate the costs.
MEASURE RESULTS! Place a special code in your advertisement. For example, if you include an offer in your advertisement, provide a discount code specific to that ad. Measure the number of redemptions from this advertisement. Or create a unique landing page for your website – or direct traffic to a specific web page – and publish your website address with an extension like www.ioliteglobal.com/tips. Install Google Analytics on that page and measure traffic.