Newspaper and Magazine Advertising Still a Viable Option

Is newspaper or magazine advertising is a sure-fire way of achieving enquiries and sales? It’s tempting to think; ‘place an advert, and they’ll come’. Unfortunately the reality is very different. Look through that same newspaper and think about how many adverts are actually noticed. Of those noticed, how many are read and subsequently acted upon? Very little. Especially with the use of cheap and easy online advertising.

You will know that to be a prudent marketer, you need to effectively use the multiple streams of the marketing mix. In a modern world, where social media and e-marketing are used so prolifically by businesses, we seem to have forgotten about the importance of highly effective advertising.
Marketing such as mail-outs by post, newspaper and magazine advertising, use of press releases, editorials, radio coverage, events, leaflet and poster campaigns are often overlooked. On the contrary, as part of an effective marketing mix, using a range of marketing options and measuring what generates the most response is preferable to purely focussing on e-marketing options.

Newspaper and magazine advertising is still an excellent way to promote your business.

Magazines and newspapers are important print media used by companies to deliver advertising messages. While they share similarities as print media, the strengths and weaknesses of each medium are distinct. Newspapers tend to offer opportunities for the broadest range of advertisers, but magazines have strengths in helping you connect with a specific audience. Magazines and newspapers are the two traditional print media used by companies for advertising. Despite these shared traits, newspaper and magazine advertising uses quite different techniques.

Newspapers are highly advantageous in targeting geographic market segments. Publications include local, regional and national newspapers. Local businesses with a broad demographic customer base, for instance, can reach the local market efficiently at minimal cost. Magazines usually have a more narrow audience. There are hundreds of magazines each with a specific topic focus. If you sell high-end camping gear, a magazine about outdoor recreation or camping offers an efficient connection point.

Lead Times

Magazines have a long lead time, which is a disadvantage, while newspapers have a short lead time, which is an advantage. You usually have to submit a magazine ad four to six weeks ahead of publication. This is because production and layout processes take longer. In most instances, you can buy a box ad in your local paper and get it placed within a day or two. This is beneficial if you want to advertise a current promotion.


Magazines and newspapers both offer some level of creative potential, though magazines have a stronger page finish and production quality. While you can use color in both, the visual strength of magazine ads enhances the effectiveness of color. In magazines, you can also use a color background whereas newspapers typically only have a white background. This means you can present more attractive color contrasts in your magazine visuals.


Another strength of magazines relative to newspapers is a longer life. Newspapers are typically read one time and thrown out, used as litter box lining or recycled. This means your ad is normally viewed just once, if at all, by a reader. In contrast, magazines are commonly kept for several days, weeks or months in magazine racks. In business offices or doctor's waiting rooms, magazines often sit for several weeks and are read by many patrons.

On the surface, selling magazine advertisements wouldn't seem much different than selling newspaper ads. It is important that you adhere to the following tips, in order to ensure that the advert grabs the attention of the reader.
1. The headline is the advert for the advert
As the saying goes ‘The headline is the advert for the advert’. In other words, without a great headline, great adverts often don’t even get read. So, one of the keys to effective advertising has to be to test different headlines in order to improve the performance (number of leads) that the advert produces.

Choosing Titles

Your choices fit into the following broad categories;
-Local publications, normally covering a small geographical area or community.
-Regional or national newspapers, more suited to national brands than local companies.
-Lifestyle magazines, generally focused on ways of living or enhancing your life. Many women’s magazines fit into this category as do home styling magazines.
-Interest-based, which are usually focused on a particular industry, e.g. accountants, or hobbies, e.g. anglers and woodworkers.

Don’t just pick the most obvious title. A bit of lateral thinking can sometimes work wonders. Perhaps your product has most appeal among the 55-65 year old age group. Rather than advertising generally you might be better advertising in an interest-based publication where the predominant readership is in that age-group, e.g. gardening titles.
2. Location
The location of your advert is also very important.  Traditionally, apart from the front page, or back page, the best pages to be on are pages 3, 5, 7, 9 (in that order). There is an exception to this rule, however and that is, when you need to be on a certain page which is read by your target market. For example - you might want to be on the women’s health page, if you are selling yoga classes for ladies. Other things to consider are that if you are taking out a smaller than full page advert, then the top generally out-pulls the bottom of the page and if you are buying a 1/4 page advert then the top right-hand corner sometimes out pulls the other three quarters of the page.

Classified adverts may be more likely to be spotted by a searcher who is looking for something specific, whereas run-of-the-page could be spotted by all readers, potentially appealling to a much larger audience.
3. The words
The words that you write are of course essential to your advert’s success and hiring a professional copywriter is often worth its weight in gold. Having said that, you can write your own text, but the secret to your success might be to write three different adverts. Ask your customers what they think and then if your advert is going to run for let’s say six weeks, test the three different adverts over the first three weeks. Then measure their performance and use the one that creates the most leads for the final three weeks.

4. Promoting Brands or Products?

Brand awareness advertising makes the general public aware of a product or company. It may not make them buy immediately, but when they are next in the buying cycle they may look in a directory, see a company that has advertised regularly and go there because they recognise the name.

Product promotion, or direct response advertising, is aimed at getting someone to buy or enquire immediately. A direct response advert will have the website address or telephone number displayed prominently and may also have an offer encouraging prospects to buy now, e.g. ‘Sale this weekend’.

Your buying process will indicate what type of advertising you are best to focus on.

5. Size and Colour

Bigger doesn’t always mean best, but colour usually performs better than black and white. All businesses will have an optimal size but this will only really be found by testing. Set a budget and then try out various sizes, formats and colour arrangements using the techniques in Can Advertising be Measured? until you find what works best. Then, keep testing in case things change or you find something better.
6. Include your product’s positioning, key features, and benefits to end users
Positioning, key features and benefits are key elements that you may want to include in an advert. Positioning is something that can be conveyed succinctly in a company representative quote or in the first or second paragraph of the release. It's good to use incentives e.g. 50% off, photos, colour and a ' call to action' such as ' book a place by 21st May' etc.
7. Include a customer quote if possible.
Including a customer quote in your release helps raise its level of social proofing and chance of being believed. You will need to obtain permission from the customer
8. Pictures
A picture paints a thousand words and whilst it may not be totally true in today’s modern world it certainly is an important factor. More and more marketing and advertising is featuring the owner of the business. You just need to look at Virgin and ‘Bet Fred’ to note that they are using the owner of the business to advertise and market the company. One of the big reasons for this is that people buy from people that they know, like and trust and we trust businesses and people that we see often and in multiple locations.
9. Call to action
A very old, but useful ‘numonic’ is  ATTENTION. You must have an attention grabbing headline.  INTEREST. Now you have their attention, you must keep it. DESIRE. Once you have got their attention, built their interest, then you must get them to desire your product, or services and lastly, but be no means least comes the final is ACTION. You must have a strong call to action.
10. Give them a headache, then offer an aspirin
People do not buy until they have a reason to do so. In other words until they have a ‘headache’.  What do I mean? Let’s say you sell lawn mowers. If your advert says - ‘come and buy our great lawn mowers’. They are the best, or the cheapest, or the most reliable.  However, I am not going to buy one unless your advert can get me focusing on the problem that I have first, then you may focus on how you can solve that problem. For example: Tired of your small old and heavy lawn mower? Try our clean light and environmentally friendly machines.
11. Maximisation
When you decide to spend money on newspaper or magazine advertising you must make the most of it.  You must tell people on Twitter that you are in XYZ magazine.  You must tell your LinkedIn contacts that you on are page three of ABC newspaper and you must take the article and add it to your website or blog or both. You must also maximise your on-line advert.  When you advertise most publications will have an on-line site, as well as a paper based advert.  Your job is to drive traffic to your advert from your social media platforms and e-mail marketing systems and ensure that there is a link between what you are doing on and off-line.
12. Last, but by no means least
The truth is advertising is a multi billion pound industry and that would not be the case if it did not work.  Advertising could work for your business, you just need to be good at it and you need to do it consistently.  Like most marketing, it can be done well or badly. The secret is to test, test, and test again. Test what?  Test your headlines, copy, use of pictures, location, offer, use of colour, type face, the special offer you make, the size of your advert and even the location of your telephone number.