Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dipping Into the Well of Magazine Advertising

Every form of advertising has it's pros and cons. Magazines are no different.

To understand magazine advertising, you have to understand the magazine business model. Ray Bard of Bard Publishing explained it best when he said:
"When you're thinking about writing a book on a subject or considering a
business to go into, it's essential that you find out 2 things:
  1. How widespread is the public's interest in it?
  2. How deep is that interest?
"If interest is not widespread and not very deep, you're looking at a Puddle. Never invest time or money in a puddle.

"If interest is widespread but not very deep, you're looking at a Swamp. Be careful of swamps. They look like oceans at first because everyone is interested. But that interest is shallow, not deep enough to drive action. Investors go broke when they see a swamp and think it's an ocean.

"If public interest is wide and deep, you're looking at an Ocean. But you're going to need a platform on which to navigate your ocean. If you don't have a platform, you'll drown. And you're going to need a plan or you'll drift.

"If public interest is narrow but deep, you've got a Well.
Don't underestimate it. You can draw a lot of water from a well. I once knew a
writer who wrote a book called The Care and Feeding of Quarter Horses. The book held no interest for readers who didn't own a quarter horse, but those who did had deep enough interest to buy the book. It was extremely successful."


Magazines are Wells. Interest is narrow but deep. If you sell to rock climbers, there are magazines exclusively for rock climbers. If you sell to perennial gardeners, there are magazines for perennial gardeners.

No matter how niche your product, there is most likely a magazine that perfectly fits that niche. And unlike almost all other forms of traditional advertising, only magazines can consistently give you potential customers that exactly fit your profile.

So what's the downside? Two things...
  • Frequency
  • Cost
The more niche the magazine, the less often it is produced, meaning the less often your ad has the chance to be seen. And being a passive ad, there is the possibility it won't get seen at all. This can be tough if you're trying to promote an event or special sale and you miss getting seen in time. This can also be tough if you're trying to raise top-of-mind awareness (branding). Since frequency is the key to memory, lack of frequency works against your long-term goals.

And costs for magazine ads can be astronomical. If it's a full color magazine, you probably need a full-color ad just to have a shot at getting seen, and those ads typically cost more.

But if you think a magazine might be the right avenue for your advertising campaign, here are some things to keep in mind:
  • Make sure the readership fits your customer profile as closely as possible. Ask your current customers what magazine they read to help you choose which magazines would be the best fit.
  • Understand the goal of the magazine and match your ad to the goal. If the magazine is used primarily to give event information, you should advertise your events. If the magazine primarily is used to give information, make your ads informational.
  • Ask for discounted rates and priority placements in return for signing full-year contracts. The best customers get the best ad placements. Be one of their best customers.
  • Use professional production for your ads. The magazine is using professionals. You should too.
  • Keep it simple. Print ads are like billboards, only a limited time to get your attention. Your ad should be able to attract someone's attention is less than 3 seconds. Pay special attention to your headline and your graphics.
One of the biggest benefits of magazine advertising is the fact that people hold onto and re-read magazines often, giving readers multiple chances to see your ad. Add to that the chance to reach your very specific niche audience and magazines can be the well that fills your profit tanks full.

If there is a magazine with the exact right readers, a purpose aligned with the purpose of your business, a decent frequency, and a cost you can afford, you should consider it as a viable advertising option.

Do you agree or disagree?

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