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Is newspaper and magazine advertising still a viable option?

5th Jun 2013
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You will know that to be a prudent marketer, you need to effectively use the multiple streams of the marketing mix. In a modern world, where social media and e-marketing are used so prolifically by businesses, we seem to have forgotten about the importance of highly effective advertising. 
Marketing such as mail-outs by post, newspaper and magazine advertising, use of press releases, editorials, radio coverage, events, leaflet and poster campaigns are often overlooked. On the contrary, as part of an effective marketing mix, using a range of marketing options and measuring what generates the most response is preferable to purely focussing on e-marketing options.
Newspaper and magazine advertising is still an excellent way to promote your business. However, it is important that you adhere to the following top ten tips, in order to ensure that the advert grabs the attention of the reader. 
1. The headline is the advert for the advert
As the saying goes ‘The headline is the advert for the advert’. In other words, without a great headline, great adverts often don’t even get read. So, one of the keys to effective advertising has to be to test different headlines in order to improve the performance (number of leads) that the advert produces.
2. Location
The location of your advert is also very important.  Traditionally, apart from the front page, or back page, the best pages to be on are pages 3, 5, 7, 9 (in that order). There is an exception to this rule, however and that is, when you need to be on a certain page which is read by your target market. For example - you might want to be on the women’s health page, if you are selling yoga classes for ladies. Other things to consider are that if you are taking out a smaller than full page advert, then the top generally out-pulls the bottom of the page and if you are buying a 1/4 page advert then the top right-hand corner sometimes out pulls the other three quarters of the page. 
3. The words 
The words that you write are of course essential to your advert’s success and hiring a professional copywriter is often worth its weight in gold. Having said that, you can write your own text, but the secret to your success might be to write three different adverts. Ask your customers what they think and then if your advert is going to run for let’s say six weeks, test the three different adverts over the first three weeks. Then measure their performance and use the one that creates the most leads for the final three weeks.
4. Include your product’s positioning, key features, and benefits to end users 
Positioning, key features and benefits are key elements that you may want to include in an advert. Positioning is something that can be conveyed succinctly in a company representative quote or in the first or second paragraph of the release. It's good to use incentives e.g. 50% off, photos, colour and a ' call to action' such as ' book a place by 21st May' etc.
5. Include a customer quote if possible. 
Including a customer quote in your release helps raise its level of social proofing and chance of being believed. You will need to obtain permission from the customer
6. Pictures
A picture paints a thousand words and whilst it may not be totally true in today’s modern world it certainly is an important factor. More and more marketing and advertising is featuring the owner of the business. You just need to look at Virgin and ‘Bet Fred’ to note that they are using the owner of the business to advertise and market the company. One of the big reasons for this is that people buy from people that they know, like and trust and we trust businesses and people that we see often and in multiple locations.
7. Call to action
A very old, but useful ‘numonic’ is the AIDA Formula. The ‘A’ stands for ATTENTION. You must have an attention grabbing headline.  The ‘I’ stands for INTEREST. Now you have their attention, you must keep it. The ‘D’ stands for DESIRE. Once you have got their attention, built their interest, then you must get them to desire your product, or services and lastly, but be no means least comes the final ‘A’ and that is ACTION. You must have a strong call to action.
8. Give them a headache, then offer an aspiri
People do not buy until they have a reason to do so. In other words until they have a ‘headache’.  What do I mean? Let’s say you sell lawn mowers. If your advert says - ‘come and buy our great lawn mowers’. They are the best, or the cheapest, or the most reliable.  However, I am not going to buy one unless your advert can get me focusing on the problem that I have first, then you may focus on how you can solve that problem. For example: Tired of your small old and heavy lawn mower? Try our clean light and environmentally friendly machines.
9. Maximisation
When you decide to spend money on newspaper or magazine advertising you must make the most of it.  You must tell people on Twitter that you are in XYZ magazine.  You must tell your LinkedIn contacts that you on are page three of ABC newspaper and you must take the article and add it to your website or blog or both. You must also maximise your on-line advert.  When you advertise most publications will have an on-line site, as well as a paper based advert.  Your job is to drive traffic to your advert from your social media platforms and e-mail marketing systems and ensure that there is a link between what you are doing on and off-line.
10. Last, but by no means least 
I wish I had a pound for every time I have been told ‘advertising does not work’.  The truth is advertising is a multi billion pound industry and that would not be the case if it did not work.  Advertising could work for your business, you just need to be good at it and you need to do it consistently.  Like most marketing, it can be done well or badly. The secret is to test, test, and test again. Test what?  Test your headlines, copy, use of pictures, location, offer, use of colour, type face, the special offer you make, the size of your advert and even the location of your telephone number. I hope my article helps you to improve the effectiveness of your advertising and that you improve the number of adverts you place and the leads you generate from each advert in a controlled and measured way.
Steve Mills helps clients to create more leads. Over the past 17 years, Steve has built a reputation for helping businesses to market themselves using his ‘Marketing without Money Formula’. Never one to take unnecessary risks for himself or his client, Steve is now known as The Prudent Marketer. Steve established his reputation by training thousands of business people in how to market themselves without a budget. He has spoken to audiences all over the world and authored three highly successful marketing books as well as writing articles for many leading business magazines. He is the founder of The LinkedIn Training Academy which provides training, coaching and mentoring, through video, audio, workshops and webinars. To download a free copy of his book - The 10 biggest lead generation mistakes most small businesses make, go to

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