Print advertising can still work

Although the Internet is gaining ground, newspapers and billboards are still essential tools for reaching certain customers. Here is some advice.

In 2011, more people looked for information on the Internet than in newspapers. This was a watershed moment. Yet traditional marketing tools, such as newspaper ads and posters, still play a key role in promoting the services of an SME. If a company's customer base is older, magazines remain a good way of conveying a message. Similarly, a poster placed on a busy street or in a station will reach a wide range of customers.

Creating an ad

An effective ad should grab the attention of readers or passersby, promote the products or services provided by the SME and encourage the customer to make a purchase. If a company wants to create a simple ad for a local newspaper, an employee with basic graphic design skills could design it. But if the company wants to publish a message in a well-known national magazine, using the services of professionals is recommended.

In Switzerland, some advertising agencies are registered with the Swiss Association of Leading Advertising and Communication Agencies (BSW). Being registered with this association guarantees that an agency will have a certain level of quality.

An ad should include the following elements:

  • Basic information about the product. The customer needs to grasp the plus points at a glance.
  • A promotion. A discount, guarantee or financing are excellent ways of turning a passerby into a customer.
  • A strong title. On average, just one in five people will stop in front of a poster ad and read all of it. The rest just read the ad title. The title should manage to attract the attention of the reader or passerby.
  • A feeling of urgency. The ad should announce a limited special offer or an offer which only the first 100 customers can enjoy.
  • A clear explanation. Customers should understand how they can buy the product advertised.

The advertisement design should make people look: the ad should be simple and match the corporate style. An SME should always highlight its name on each ad. Because of their size, multinationals can just show their logo. But customers are not necessarily aware of the brand image of a small company.

How to publish an ad in a newspaper

An ad should not be published at just any time and without due consideration. Some factors should be taken into account:

  • Some days of the week are more suitable for one type of customer than another. For example, a company selling fruits and vegetables should put its ad in the edition of the newspaper which has an advertising supplement devoted to this type of product. If a restaurant wants to publicize an offer for a meal on the weekend, it should publish its ad on a Thursday or even a Friday.
  • The cost of an ad is higher in the Sunday edition, but it also reaches more people. On average, the number of newspapers sold on Sundays is 10% to 40% higher than on weekdays. And readers spend on average three times longer reading their Sunday papers. Readers also keep magazines for longer than daily newspapers.
  • Small ads are effective too. Full-page ads are admittedly impressive, but it has been proven that small ads also attract readers.
  • The frequency of the ad is more important than its size. It is impossible to reach your customer base using just one ad in a newspaper. The ad should be published several times, ideally in several different media.
  • The size of the ad should correspond to the importance of the message. For example, the opening of a new store merits a one-page ad in a magazine. A 10% discount on a range of dishwashing liquid should be published on a quarter page.

How to place a poster on the street

Billboards are everywhere—on walls, in train stations and at bus stops. In Switzerland, APG SGA organizes the rental of these locations. Two factors should be taken into account when renting a billboard:

  • Location is key. Before choosing a billboard, an employee of the SME should see the location with his or her own eyes. The company should be sure the poster will reach the target customer base. Once the ad has been put up, someone from the SME should regularly check that the ad is intact and whether it has been tagged or ripped.
  • The poster should be clear. Passersby spend only four or five seconds reading a billboard. They typically read seven words at the most. These seven words should help the customer understand the services provided by the SME.

Digital posters

Since 2001, APG SGA has offered the option of animated or fixed digital ads, which produce a strong impact:

Source: Small Business Marketing Kit For Dummies, Barbara Findlay Schenck, John Wiley & Sons Inc, 2012.


Last modification 16.02.2020

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