How to make your print advertising more fruitful

The Only Three Print-Advertising Strategies You’ll Ever Need

Is print advertising dead? Some people might think so, but I believe it still has an important part to play in the marketing mix, as lots of people still read magazines and newspapers and they can still influence customer behaviour. The question is – are they YOUR customers or prospective customers? The trick is to be strategic about HOW you use this tool to help you achieve your business goals. You don’t want to be used AS a tool to help someone else achieve their sales targets!

If you’re fed up with wasting money advertising your business in newspapers and magazines that don’t yield results, or if you’re often caught off-guard by tempting last minute deals on ad space when sales people call you, then please read on.

You just have to flick through any of the glossy magazines or national papers, to see that print advertising is still used by all the big brands, and even Google was reported to have spent over $1million on it during 2012. Obviously they will have bigger budgets to enable them to saturate the media more effectively with their messaging. However, smaller businesses can find them effective too, and will point to evidence which shows that readers of printed materials are more engaged and likely to spend longer looking at your message, than those who are just skimming digital content on their screens.

Here are my three suggested strategies to make your print ad spend more fruitful.


This is the optimum approach. Ideally you would define a clear objective (think Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timebound), to communicate a specific message, across a range of different channels over a specific time period.

You would research and profile your target audience, and identify how best to reach them and what is most likely to motivate them to buy from you. You would then plan to engage them with your message numerous times, through different media. For example, you might identify that your target audience reads a specific newspaper and a couple of different magazines, as well as being active on a particular social media network, and that they are heavy email users. You could then communicate with them through each of these channels, to increase the chances of your message being received more than just once, and ideally several times. Remember that most people will need several reminders of an offer before they are sufficiently motivated, or find the time to take action.

This is why your print advertising media strategy needs to be integrated with your other marketing activity as part of a wider, more considered strategic marketing plan.



Ideally you will place the same (or similar-looking) ads in the same (or similar) locations each time to build brand recognition. You can also find ways to develop your relationship with the readers of a particular publication through editorial coverage to help them get to know your business from other perspectives.

See if you can generate some news or interesting content to be featured on other pages in the publication to reinforce your message and tell your story in other ways. Remember that a picture can tell a thousand words- so ideally you will want to ensure a good photo opportunity to accompany any press releases that you send out.

Other options for getting your message out through print media include considering advertorial (paid-for editorial), such as writing a regular advice column to showcase your expertise, running a competition with products donated as prizes or inserting leaflets or brochures. Competitions can generate excitement and goodwill around your product or service and have the potential to tie-in with social media and follow-up news features. Inserts can have a longer-shelf than articles and adverts on the pages of a magazine or brochure, as they can be put to one side and serve as a memory-jogger. Another idea is to offer a special promotion exclusively for these readers.

Don’t have time and budget for a whole campaign? Then follow….


This must be a something that is guaranteed to motivate readers to take action as you’ll only have this one chance to get a response.

For example:
–           Half price sale on these hot items this week

–           Download a best selling free e-book this month

–           Get a once-in-a-lifetime VIP upgrade today

Ideally you will want to include a voucher or code so you can track the response rate. If that’s not possible, then see if you can add find a way to ask customers if they saw your advert. This strategy is good if you want to create a high volume of sales or leads in a short time-frame, for example, if you have lots of spare inventory or capacity that you need to sell quickly.

This is the only situation where I’d recommend running a one-off advert, rather than a series, but you’ll need to make sure the readership is big enough and targeted enough to produce the response you’ll be looking for.

In a perfect world you would incorporate an amazing time-limited trackable offer into bigger campaigns (as per Strategies #1 and #2) as well – but sometimes it’s trickier to find a suitable promotion over a longer time period.

In summary, whatever you do…

you’ll want to at least cover the cost of your ad spend, but preferably you’ll want a greater return than that – perhaps as much as 10x your original outlay – think about what you’d be happy with before you make the investment. Consider how realistic it is for you to achieve the return you seek, by giving due consideration to the size and nature of the readership, the positioning and size of your advert, and the timing and nature of your offer. Don’t think that just by booking ad space, you’re going to see a sales uplift, or you’ll be sadly disappointed. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as throwing money at the problem – as with most marketing techniques, print advertising does not guarantee a quick-fix solution. You need to take the time to think through your strategy and make a more informed, planned, and integrated approach.

Still unsure how to allocate your print ad spend? Want to bounce some ideas around or get some expert advice? Drop me an email to [email protected] and I’ll be happy to help.