Here’s an article I found today about advertising in newspapers. Since newspapers cater entirely to local businesses that want to reach a local market I think we can learn something from this article.
(By the way, the article is from www.EzineArticles.com which has a lot of articles on business and marketing. When you have a moment, you might want to check it out.)
In the article, the author (James Burchill) debunks 5 “myths” of newspaper advertising. While I agree with some of his “debunking” I disagree with a lot of what he says.
Here are his 5 “myths” and my comments:
“Advertising Myth 1: Your ad must first ‘look good’ before it is placed in any publication.”
Burchill says don’t worry about your ad looking good. You want results not aesthetics.
I say remember your goal for the ad. In local marketing the three most common purposes for advertisements are direct response, awareness (a.k.a. brand building) and event promotion.
If your goal is direct response, then, Mr. Burchill is right in that you should design your ad to accomplish that goal. But, your ad’s appearance has a direct effect on how it performs. I would suggest striving for both form AND function because the two are inextricably intertwined.
“Advertising Myth 2: Your company name needs to be prominent in the ad.”
Burchill says you should never put your company name at the top of your ad. In most case I would agree. This is because with most local businesses, the company name is not well known enough to draw reader’s eyes to the ad. It’s better to use a headline that gets the reader’s attention and that is relevant to the purpose of the product or service being promoted.
However, if your goal is to promote awareness of your company then, by all means, make your company name prominent in the ad. Or, if your company name is a big draw, then use it to draw the reader to your ad.
“Advertising Myth 3: You should never use a reply coupon because it looks ‘unprofessional’.”
Burchill says use a reply coupon unless you simply do not have the space. I agree with him only if your ad goal is to generate a direct response and if your business is one that “fits” the coupon image. If your industry typically uses reply coupons and people are use to seeing them, then go ahead and use them. But not all businesses are well represented by coupons. And not all consumers use coupons nor do they respond to them. So, to simply say coupons are right for all ads is, well, too simple.
Again focus on the goal of your ad. Then build the ad to accomplish that goal.
“Advertising Myth 4: You should use a design agency to create your ads.”
Burchill says, “In almost every case you are better equipped to create your own advertising rather than using a design agency” and I disagree.
Although some of local businesses have the internal resources to design their own ads, most do not. My experience has been that a skilled designer who understands the publication can almost always create a more effective ad than a typical small business can.
“Advertising Myth 5: Your ad must not have too much copy (words) and have lots of white space.”
Burchill says, essentially, the more words the better. His reasoning is that if you have more words, you have more opportunities to “sell” the reader on responding. You can offer more benefits to them.
Here, as with the other “myths” I say focus on your goal. Many ads are simply not suited for a lot of text. In fact, most print advertising is not. It’s what my friend Lonny Kocina calls “short form advertising” where you do not have enough time to sell a lot of features and benefits.
In my company, we have found ads with more white space and less clutter tend to get better results. White space makes the ads easier on the eyes.
It’s like listening to a rich, calm, soothing voice rather than a fast talking, chattering voice where you can barely keep up with what they’re saying. It’s less stressful so people are more likely to pay attention to it. The same is true with visual media.
The main reason I disagree with so much of this article is because it is focused entirely on one goal: direct response. But, not all newspaper ads have direct response as their purpose. Many are created to increase awareness of the business or product. Others are to promote events.
Direct response is only one aspect of local marketing. Some businesses never use direct response, because it does not fit their business or their goals.
Before you plan any advertising, define your goals. Then fit your media and your message to those goals, not the other way around.