Print Advertising


Next to the busker on the street, print advertising is the oldest form of advertising. It's available in many forms, relatively affordable and can be tailored to a very specific audience. Many businesses start with print advertising and move on to other forms as the marketing dollars permit.

Identify Your Audience to Determine Cost

Developing an Advertising Plan is the best way to forecast the various stages of marketing for your business and target audience. Your plan will also guide your budgetary decisions.

There are many options and publications to use in order to reach a specific audience, including:

  • Local and weekly newspapers, broken out by geographic zones and demographic zones.
  • Segmented, enthusiast, interest or trade publications.
  • National newspapers, broken out by zones and drop-specific placement, such as airports.

The type of publication determines the cost variance. Obviously, advertising your lawn service in a local newsweekly will be cheaper than in a regional gardening magazine. Nevertheless, advertising in publications allows for more flexibility to zero in on a specific audience while still benefiting from a mass marketing outreach.

To be successful, the formula is the reach combined with frequency, which is how often readers will receive your message.

Basic Print Advertising Terminology

Like any industry, print advertising has very specific business terms. Here are a few that will come up quite frequently as you're planning your print marketing campaign.

  • Cost Per Thousand: the cost of reaching 1,000 readers as divided by overall cost and prospects.
  • Column Inch: in newspapers, it's a space one inch deep and one column across.
  • Cover Positions: four sections of a periodical considered to be prime advertising space.
  • LNA: stands for Leading National Advertisers, a service that researches ad pricing.
  • Readership: refers not to readership of the publication in this usage, but who saw the ad.
  • Tearsheet: proof to the advertiser that the ad ran in the publication as scheduled.

To better understand print terminology, view a more comprehensive list here: Print Advertising Terminology

Crafting a Media Schedule

There are four general types of print advertising media plans:

  • Top of Mind or Continuous Schedule: this is an ongoing run, especially in newspaper. It's the one most often discounted.
  • Front-loaded Schedule: commonly used to spike awareness in a new product or a big sale, then taper off to a general maintenance schedule.
  • Blink Schedule: while it seems random, a blink schedule is a calculated on-again, off-again awareness campaign.
  • Heavy-up Schedule: often used by seasonal advertisers.

Depending on your media plan and print outlets, it may also be beneficial to you to create a hybrid version of these four basic plans, or select sponsorship in a particular issue.

Your print advertising account executive should be very clear with strategies and have documentation, like readership results, audience statistics, zone modifications and case studies to back up any suggestions.

Print Ad Creation

If you already have some basic collateral material in place, ad development can be easy. As with broadcast media outlets, there is often a strategic marketing team of creative writers and designers at most publications trained to create effective print advertising. This team can design with your company's existing logo and positioning verbiage, as well as drop in any cooperative or "co-op" logos for manufacturers or distributors that might offer additional ad dollars to the campaign.

However, depending on the size of the publication, many businesses have had varying results of quality in design. Some companies choose to contract a freelance designer or an advertising agency for ad development, which is then inserted into the publication.

Your primary job in the development process is to clearly identify your objectives for advertising, provide details of the message and express the desired results from the effort. With this information, often called "copy points," the creative staff will develop an ad to accomplish the objectives.

But the most creative commercial will start with clear identification of the audience, how the product or service can benefit them and then proper placement of the message. The sum of these components equals the best print advertising.

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