How To Buy Print Advertising for Maximum Results

How To Buy Print Advertising for Maximum Results

Magazines, newspapers, direct mail, billboards, and other print media have been the backbone of business-to-business and consumer marketing for centuries. Kicking back and reading a magazine in the comfort of our home, office, or a coffeehouse or on the beach, airplane, train, or bus is a personal experience that can never be replaced. We aren't interested in skipping about on a computer, or we just don't have one at our fingertips. Print is portable, tangible, and easy on the eyes. The convenience of print and a more captive mindset provide strong advertising opportunities to reach franchise prospects, opportunities that should never be abandoned for the flash of electronic media.

Here are some quick tips that will help you make better decisions when purchasing print advertising:

  • Ask about readership profiles and circulation audits. Make sure the medium reaches the profile of your ideal buyers. Here's the good news! Although "big data" is changing the equation, print media are light years ahead of the Internet in identifying and documenting who their readers are, how many they have, and knowing their demographics, lifestyles, and purchasing habits. Publishers conduct surveys and focus groups to better understand their audiences. Larger, high-profile publications such as the Wall Street Journal, major daily newspapers, or Entrepreneur magazine provide you with ABC or BPA industry audits and comprehensive reader profiles. Franchise trade publications such as Franchise Update and the IFA's Franchising World also provide valuable marketing intelligence to assist in your decision-making.
  • Different ads for different audiences. Adjust your graphics and message for the readership. I've seen ads with male franchisees featured in a women's business publication; copy written for white Middle America appearing in a magazine serving Hispanic readers.
  • Frequency over size. You'll get much greater bang for your buck if you run a quarter-page ad four times rather than a full-page ad once. Agencies are notorious for buying a full-page one-time run for a franchise recruitment ad, rather than smaller ads over several issues for the same price. Just say "No" if you run into this. Franchise recruitment is direct-response advertising, which requires frequency. Magazines in particular have long "shelf lives" and additional "pass-along" readers, which will continue to generate responses months after the issue's original publication date. When I was with Entrepreneur magazine, we discovered a 67 percent renewal rate with franchisors on first-time frequency schedules, and an 18 percent renewal history with "one-shot" advertisers.
  • Run consecutive issues. People sometimes don't notice you the first time they read a Sunday Business Opportunity section, or perhaps they aren't interested that week in looking for a franchise business. But then the shoe drops and they're informed of a pending layoff that week, or a cut in pay, or a job transfer to another state, or another motivating reason to seek their own business. Second, we typically don't read every issue of our favorite magazines, and read only certain ones when we travel. You should place a minimum three-time test for any print publication to produce results. If you plan on running an ad just once, you'll be flushing your money down the drain. Repetition sells deals.
  • Format your ads for maximum response. In magazines, not only does size matter, shape does too. Specifically, one-third-page vertical ads typically produce more leads than one-third-page square ads, since they read from top to bottom; half-page islands (floating on the page surrounded by text) usually outperform half-page horizontal ads; twothirds- page ads can be as effective as full-page ads since editorial copy wraps around the two-thirds ad, creating more reader attention; and a half-page horizontal spread that spans two pages can increase results over a full-page ad, because the adjacent editorial allows readers to spend more time reading and seeing your franchise opportunity.
  • Ask about remnant space. When a magazine or newspaper is laid out before publication, there are always "holes" that need to be filled. These open spaces either are sold at the last minute by the sales people at preferred (discounted) rates or, failing that, are filled with "public service" ads or "house" ads, which is typically the case in newspaper classified sections. Find out the remnant space policy at different publications. Although last-minute deals are usually reserved for veteran clients, here's how you'll increase your opportunities to grab a leftover space at a reduced price: prepare a lineup of your franchise ads in the different shapes and sizes that fit the various ad sizes of the publications you use. Then let them know you can have artwork in their hands the same day should a remnant space become available!
  • Four-color ads aren't necessarily better. Lead generation is direct-response driven, so don't spend the extra money for full-color advertising unless it makes sense or doesn't cost more. Four-color ads are always a wise choice if you are promoting a visual concept such as Stained Glass Overlay, Carpet Sculpture Gallery, and food-related franchises. When considering a black-and-white ad, take note: studies reveal two-color ads are higher response generators than black-and-white ads, since headlines and major points can be highlighted to attract greater reader attention.

This is an excerpt from my Amazon.com best-selling book, "Grow to Greatness: How to build a world-class franchise system faster." To order copies, click here.

Published: August 18th, 2014

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