Print Advertising Pros and Cons

If you're a small business owner, and especially if you're just starting out, you've most likely given some consideration to the best ways to advertise your business. Odds are good that print advertising is at or near the top of your list of potential advertising mediums.

There are pros and cons to any kind of advertising, and it's beneficial to understand what these are before dipping into your hard-earned marketing budget.

Following are some of the pros and cons of print advertising in newspapers and magazines.

Newspaper Advertising

Newspaper advertising has long been an effective way for small businesses to advertise their goods or services to the community around them. Consider both smaller neighborhood papers as well as larger city (or even national) newspapers. If your business is located in a small town, advertising in the local community paper makes sense; that way you can attract the locals who would most likely frequent your store. If your business or service is specific to a particular section of the newspaper, run your ad in that area of the paper. For example, if you run a sporting goods store, make sure your ad appears in the paper's sports section.

Advertising rates depend largely on readership numbers. Thus, a paper with a large circulation will have higher rates than one with fewer subscribers. But even though prices are based on the number of potential readers who will view your ad, this does not mean that rates are necessarily set in stone. You can often strike a better deal if you agree to run your ad for a set number of weeks or months. Moreover, doing so will give you consistent exposure, which is often what is needed in order to influence consumer purchase behavior.

Advantages to newspaper advertising include the following

  • Inexpensive to produce: A little research and know-how are often all that's needed to create a targeted, successful ad.
  • Easy to switch out. If you have a regular ad in your local paper and want to change it to reflect a seasonal sale, a new coupon, or a new product, you can usually do so rather easily.
  • Different rates and sizes. Look at the various sizes of ads in the newspapers you are considering running ads in. Newspapers normally have several standard sizes. Some standard sizes include quarter-page, half-page and full-page. Ads also run horizontally or vertically. The bigger the ad, the more it will cost. Determine which size might work for your message.

Disadvantages to newspaper advertising include the following:

  • Limited readership. This is especially true nowadays when more and more people are eschewing print publications for online electronic versions.
  • Poor printed image quality. This can be a problem if you sell high-end clothing or your services as a portrait artist. In such instances, try to drive readers to your Web site -- where you should have hi-resolution images -- or play up discounted pricing.
  • No control over ad placement. Oftentimes newspapers won't guarantee premium placement on any given page. That can be a problem if your competitor advertises in the same space.

Magazine Advertising

If you have more to spend on print advertising, consider placing ads in magazines. Whereas the goal of newspaper advertising is to communicate a specific offer, the goal of magazine ads is usually more about enhancing and sustaining brand image.

Magazine ads require you to consider your brand image and how you want to portray that image to your target audience. Advertising agencies specialize in creating such ads, but they aren't cheap and most don't accept one-off jobs. If you decide to design and write your ad yourself, pore through the periodicals in which you intend to advertise and scrutinize your competitors' ads.

Advantages to magazine advertising include the following:

  • Access to a specific customer base. While anyone might subscribe to a local newspaper, only car enthusiasts subscribe to Car and Driver. Magazine ads allow you to better reach your target audience.
  • More bang for your buck. Readers don't discard magazines as quickly as they do newspapers, so your ad will be relevant for a longer period of time.
  • Help brand your business. Magazine printing methods allow for higher resolution images and better color options, which allow you to build your brand image in a positive way. Just the fact that you are advertising in a magazine gives your company a certain professional cachet.

Disadvantages to magazine advertising include the following:

  • Ads can be expensive. Magazine advertising is usually pricier than newspaper advertising.
  • Tricky to schedule. Many magazines come out just once a month, or even every three months, and to meet their deadlines it's often necessary to have ads completed six months before they'll actually appear.

For information on other types of advertising, included the advantages and disadvantages of each, be sure to check out Television Advertising Pros and Cons and Radio Advertising Pros and Cons.


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