Is your ad in the local paper actually working?

Don’t overlook hyper-local old media in the search for great advertising reach. Credit: Ladyheart at morgueFile.

Is your ad in the local paper actually working?

You might already be advertising in the local newspaper or you may be wondering if it’s worthwhile. In these days of doom and gloom for the print media, is your ad actually reaching your customers?

Newspapers: a snapshot

Firstly, yes, newspapers have been doing a fair amount of soul-searching in recent years. Circulation and revenue are down, and while digital and online readership have taken off, more than eight in ten of those who read a newspaper do so in print, at least sometimes.

Consumer behavior, their sources of information and the way they would act on it used to be a far more predictable beast. The world is a different place now. Newspaper circulation is down, advertising is down, and it’s much harder for the little guy to be heard in the information overload consumers are confronted with. The good news is people still like to read their local paper more than the national daily.

Think really local

Small, local news outlets are the tiny suburban newspapers and they can be the small business owner’s best friend. They publish local-interest stories and events, which can help your ad get the reader’s attention just by association. Some pages will be dedicated to local advertising, where the ad rates run on the cheap side. What’s more, the staff you deal with are likely local to your area and are more invested in your success, giving your advertising a personal touch.

Keep it simple

The more to the point the information is, the more likely it will sink in. Attract the reader’s eye with a simple, eye-catching headline. Don’t clutter the message with too many facts and figures about your business; this makes reading the advertisement too much work for your reader.

Answer the question “what’s in it for me?”

When you’re considering an advertising campaign, put yourself in the reader’s shoes and ask “what’s in it for me?” Then construct an advertisement that gives the reader an enticing answer.

This means you need to know a few things about your potential customers. For example, at this time of year it’s likely they’re considering whether they need to upgrade their tires for winter. Tell them why they need to go to your store for the information and services they need. Other ways to entice your customers to your store could be as simple as a discount, a coupon or perhaps a giveaway.

Be consistent and persistent

Remember, you need to give the reader consistent reminders of your business and your brand. Repeatedly presenting your company’s image and sales message builds awareness and trust. To do this, you need to plan a long way in advance. Not only does this mean you can place consistent ads that will start to build long-term recall in readers’ minds, but you could also pay less for the advertising space.

Location, location, location

Read local publications or survey your existing clients to find the best place and time to advertise your business. In most cases, knowing your audience will help you choose the outlet to deliver your sales message most effectively. Studying back issues at your local library might help you see which editions would be best for your advertisement. Don’t forget to ask your local paper about any website advertising they offer as well. Ask yourself, is this where my customers are looking for tire deals? What section of the paper would be best geared to my target market? If you can’t answer that question, you probably shouldn’t spend your hard-earned advertising budget there.

How to measure the success of your advertising

Once you’ve started your campaign there are plenty of easy ways to find out if it’s reaching customers.

  • Ask your customers how they found out about your business.

  • Motivate customers to mention/bring in an advertisement for a discount.

  • Use a separate phone number or email address for specific advertisements to track the response.

  • Monitor the inquiries from customers just after a new advertisement is published.

  • Capture customer zip code information to determine the best locations for advertising.

Is my newspaper ad working?

Comparing the results of your advertising with your initial goals will tell you whether your advertising had the effect you had hoped for. For example, you might research whether:

  • Inquiries and sales have increased.

  • Your business image has improved.

  • Your marketing goals have been met.

  • Feedback from customers has been positive.

What if my ad isn’t working?

You need to ask yourself if it’s the advertisement itself or the location that is missing the mark. Before you drop the ad altogether, consider redesigning it to make it clearer or more to the point, or to offer a better enticement.

Finally, be responsive to customer needs and don’t be afraid to use your imagination.

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