As the internet has grown and developed the question of whether print advertising still works has been something that comes up in discussions with my clients over and over again.
Throughout the 20th Century print advertising was king! Everyone read newspapers or magazines and popping an advert in one was a fantastic way to get new clients. The brilliant Mad Men shows what a high-pressure, successful world advertising was.
However in 1990 a clever guy called Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet and advertising in the traditional sense changed forever. Suddenly you could promote your business yourself with a snazzy new website! However businesses soon found out that people were not going to just magically know your website was there, so advertising was still key – how else were your prospective customers going to know what your website address was!
So advertising became less about telling customers about all your products and services, the website could do that, but just about telling people about your brand and letting them come and find out more, but then some brainboxes in California came up with Google and the game changed again.
Now it would seem people could search for your business on their actual computers and it appeared to be free advertising! Who would ever want a print advert again. Unfortunately as the years went by we realised that Google wasn’t as free as it seemed….actually getting a Google ranking involved quite a bit of work (or paying someone to do the work for you) or Google gave you the wondrous opportunity to pay for a top Google ranking (Pay-Per-Click). The best thing about Google, if you knew about it, was Google Analytics….definitely free and giving you the ability to track your website visitors; how many you get, how they found you etc. Finally you could actually give your advertising a Return-on-Investment number!
Mark Zuckerberg appeared to put the final nail in the coffin for print advertising in 2004 when he launched his Facebook. This was quickly followed by Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and many more than did not make it. Initially these seemed like great places to keep track of cousins and school friends, to check out your friend’s dinners or days out, but they soon became the perfect advertising platform. Not only are the results trackable, but you can also target your advert very specifically, run it for as short or long time as you like and it doesn’t cost the earth….so is it time to say goodbye to print advertising forever?
Unfortunately for many brands it may be that time, if your target audience are young people and teens there is some argument that they may never purchase a magazine or newspaper and in fact that reading on paper is a dead art for them, however if your audience is over the age of 20 there may still be hope.
The main problem with print advertising is that it is so hard to know whether it worked or not. Even if you asked every person that enquired they may not remember where they heard about you, or they may have seen your advert, visited your website and say that was how they came to you with no mention of the advert at all.
So do I have any tips for making print advertising work for your business….I’m so glad you asked
- Don’t take up last minute advertising offers, do your research and find out if your target audience is actually reading the publication. A larger investment in a quality publication is more valuable than a small investment that brings in nothing
- Really think about what you want to advertise…if possible create an offer with a unique code so you can track responses and find out your ROI
- Have your advert professionally designed, don’t just throw something together. Print is still a busy place and the readers are actually interested in the content, so you have to catch their attention
- Don’t put too much in your advert – keep it clean, use your website to give more info
One final thing to bear in mind is that many publications are going online now and they combine their print advertising deals with digital advertising, so make sure you find out if there is a digital aspect particularly if you are looking at a younger audience.