Even with the ubiquitousness of digital media advertising, reports of the death of print advertising are greatly exaggerated. In fact, while it will probably never be the industry’s primary go-to again, print marketing and other “traditional” avenues of advertising have undergone a kind of renaissance in the post-digital age.
So: how can print advertising possibly still be effective? The secret is changing the way you think about and use it. In this day and age, it’s more accurate (not to mention cost-effective) to think of print advertising as a specialized, specific appendage of your larger marketing strategy. If you use print the right way, you’ll find that you see greater response rates, more consumer traffic, better brand recognition, and ultimately, more business. Here are our best practices for making the most of the print advertising campaigns in your 2017 marketing strategy.
Like with any form of advertising, print marketing can’t live up to its potential on its own. If you want to see a worthwhile return on investment from your magazine or newspaper ad, you have to make sure it works together with your larger marketing strategy. The message you promote and the services you advertise in the ad have got to be exactly the same as they are in all other advertising messaging. The last thing you want is for a potential customer to see your ad, look you up online, and get so confused by unrelated or contradictory messaging that they give up!
Your brand should be consistent on every level: from the top-level messaging and ultimate sales pitch, to the micro-level. Your font choices, coloring, brand logo, company voice, sale or special offer details–all of these should be completely clear and unmistakable on all of your advertising, whether it’s digital or print-based. When a customer calls the number on the ad or types in a link, there should be no mistaking that they’ve come to the right place, and they can get the deal that was advertised right now.
Have Something to Say
One criticism marketers often level at print advertising is that you wind up paying more for less. It’s true: usually, landing print ads in relevant publications means spending more, and no single print ad has the reach of most digital ads. However, you can turn these limitations into opportunities by limiting the scope of your advertisement. Use print to make surgically targeted ads aimed at a particular market. You may not get your ad in front of more people, but the people who do see it will be much more likely to respond to it.
The exact reasons why print seems to be dying–its limited reach, its price tag, its specificity–also tend to give it more marketing “heft” than digital ads. When a prospective customer receives direct mail or sees your half-page ad in a magazine, they understand that you wouldn’t have gone to the trouble unless you had something special you really wanted them to see. Demonstrate what that something special is, why it warranted this special ad, and why they should care about it.
Keep it Simple, Specific, and Clear
The last thing you want is to lose your prospective customer’s attention, and there’s no easier way to do that than by making your ad too complicated. It doesn’t matter how “can’t miss” the deal you’re offering is if the would-be customer never even reads it. Keep your ads short, sweet, and to the point. There’s no need to explain the history of your company on half a page in the middle of a magazine.
Your objective in print advertising should be to get a specific, simple deal in front of customers as clearly as possible. Remember, you can always include more important information on the deal’s landing page. Here’s a test: look at your print ad for five seconds, then turn away. Could you tell a stranger what your ad was for? What the deal was offering? Why they should care about it? If your answer to any of these questions is “no”, consider revising your approach. Entice, inform, and provide the customer the information they need to take the next step. Then, get out of their way and let them come.
Be Prepared for the Response
It sounds obvious, but once you’ve piqued your customer’s interest, make sure you’re actually prepared to seal the deal. If a customer follows the URL you provide in the ad, are they going to end up on the appropriate landing page? If they call the number you’ve listed, will the customer support they talk to know which deal they’re referring to? Make sure there are as few roadblocks between initial customer action and sealing the deal as possible, and make sure the customer gets exactly what you offered.
This is especially important if your company offers a wide variety of products or services: if customer called because they’re interested in a specific deal, make sure they end up in front of that deal. Don’t make the customer explain the ad over the phone or try to find it buried in the menus of your website. Create a URL specifically for the print deal, and have the team answering the phone ask about the deal you’re promoting. The easier you make it, the more effective it’ll be.
Track Your Results
There’s another result you should make ad-specific URLs and hotlines–they’re the easier way to gauge how effective your print ad is! If every customer who was attracted to your service via your print ad came to a special page, you’d know exactly how many customers your ad attracted. Including QR codes on the ad itself, or even simply including a “how did you hear about this service?” questionnaire at the end of the service confirmation page.
Keep track of your ad URL’s page engagement numbers, along with the number of times the number you provided was called and your daily sale totals before and after the ad was posted. The more information you collect, the better you’ll be able to understand how effective your ad was. Then, it’s a matter of figuring out why your ad was effective or ineffective, and how you could improve it in the future. Keep engagement data on hand and compare it to future projects, and you’ll keep getting better at figuring out how to engage with your customers and get them interested in your service.
Hopefully, this primer has demonstrated that you shouldn’t underestimate the utility of print marketing. Used correctly, print advertisements like magazine ads and direct mail flyers can be an invaluable tool for building your brand and making customers aware of the services you offer.