To advertize or not – that is the million dollar question! Business owners have struggled over this dilemma for years asking themselves, “Am I throwing my money away by buying an ad in the local paper?” Organizations have studied it and spent millions of dollars researching what works and what doesn’t. Many small struggling businesses are so cash strapped that they can’t afford to advertize and are therefore caught between a rock and a hard place. If they don’t advertize they are not reaching potential customers and if they do advertize they get deeper in debt with no certainty of return on their money.
Companies which can afford to advertize on television, employing expensive consultants to design their “guaranteed to succeed ad”, are not always successful. Often I will laugh at a funny commercial only to realize afterwards I don’t have a clue what the product was. One of the best ads is for the Mazda car and its Zoom-Zoom commercial. I have a friend who recently bought a Mazda and couldn’t remember its make. She only had to say “Zoom-Zoom” and I knew immediately what she meant. Of course this doesn’t mean that everyone will buy a Mazda, just that their marketing was effective enough to imprint it on our brains.
While researching material for this article I came across some interesting facts and tips:
1. 99% of retailers use newspapers as their primary method of advertizing.
2. Many businesses rely on newspapers as an effective tool for advertizing. However if they don’t do it creatively, they might as well not do it at all.
3. Small community newspapers are actually growing compared to their larger counterparts which are struggling.
4. Coloured ads don’t necessarily increase traffic to your ad. Save money and buy more ads in black and white.
5. Get the ad salesperson to separate your ad from the competition. You don’t want the ad for a similar business sitting right beside yours.
6. Code your ads. By getting the customer to mention the code, you keep track of how much business the ad has generated.
7. Try advertizing in different sections of the newspaper each time. Some people only check certain sections, eg the sports pages, and may miss your ad.
8. Change your ad frequently, offering a product or service at a great sales price to attract customers.
As we all know, word of mouth is the best advertizing. A friend of mine dropped in at a local service station for an oil change. It didn’t look very busy but the man in charge informed my friend that there would be a 3 hour wait. He must have been having a bad day because it was said in a rude and unfriendly way. My friend drove a couple of blocks and was welcomed with open arms at another service station. Needless to say he will go back to the second business. We can do all the advertizing we want but we have to back it up with service, service, service.
So what’s the answer to the question, “is it worth it to advertise in your local newspaper?” For many small businesses that sell or offer services to consumers, yes it is — provided you think of your local newspaper as not being the major-metro newspaper but the local community newspaper, where the audience is targeted, the ad rates lower, and the staff motivated to place your marketing message with more of a personal touch.
I think I just described The Seeker!
Maureen Fodrek, Publisher of Fence Focus firstname.lastname@example.org