There can be a lot of ‘noise’ in your local paper. So, getting your ad seen by your target market can be both an art and a science. And once it’s been seen, make sure your customers know what action to take so you get the best return from your investment.

How to get the best return from your investment in print media

At What Your Customers Want, we’re often asked if print media – such as an advertisement in your local newspaper – still works. Our answer is ‘yes, but …’ It has to be relevant, be seen and provoke action. So, these are our top three tips of how to get the most out of print media.

Firstly, you need to understand how most people read newspapers. After turning the front page, most people glance at the pages to see if there’s a reason to stop and read. To do this, they usually start at the top left hand corner of the odd page, then run their eyes around that page clockwise, then glance at the even page as a whole.

Newspaper staff are aware of these reading patterns and often charge a premium for an item to be guaranteed odd page placement. If you haven’t paid for an odd page number, it’s likely you’ll end up on an even page, and you need to be aware that many readers will not even ‘see’ the page you’re item is on unless it is particularly engaging.

To ensure your ad has the best chance of being seen and acted upon, keep it simple and include the following elements:

  • Attract – for example, an image
  • Engage – your key message
  • Ask – a call to action
  • Make it easy – your contact details (phone, location) and dates if relevant.

Secondly, many ‘free’ newspapers are very busy. Each page has a lot of different things going on, which can be very distracting. If your ad has a lot going on, it can just add to this distraction.

Because of this ‘noise’, we’ve had a lot of success with the following:

  • Ads with a lot of white space. On a busy page, readers’ eyes will be drawn to the quiet space. This doesn’t mean having a quarter page ad with the word ‘sale’ or ‘buy now’ in the middle. But having some ‘quietness’ in the advertisement can mean that more people will be drawn to at least have a look at what you’re saying.
  • An aspirational image. Rather than include many images of products with prices or discounts next to them, think about putting these products into a space where people can see them being used. For example, a homewares store might place a number of their sale items into a photo of an aspirational room (like an image from a home magazine), then include prices next to the sale items so people who are attracted to the image can see for how much they can achieve the ‘look’.
  • An advertorial. This is essentially a paid article. While it is still paid for – and noted as such – it can be useful to reinforce your key message to your target audience. Alternatively, you could use a regular advertorial to promote your expertise – a bit like a printed blog.
  • A combination of an advertorial and an advertisement, following the rules above.

The third and perhaps most important tip is to make sure anything and everything you do is relevant to – and all about – your target customers.

Recognise that not everyone will look at your article or advertisement. But if any of your target market does see your item, you want them to be engaged by it and – most importantly – take you up on your call to action. If it’s all about you and not about what you can do for them, it will lack relevance and most likely be skipped. It can then be hard to make up this lost ground with future items.

At the end of the day, no organisation can afford for its marketing dollars not to work hard. So, if you’re going to spend money on print real estate, make sure it has the elements to work at its hardest.

Contact us if you’d like more tips. And if you’d like to get to know more about your target market, book into one of our FREE ‘get to know your customer’ workshops.

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