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A brew of marketing and advertising news for your insatiable knowledge palette

How to Select the Right Media Planning Agency

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Wed, Sep 02, 2015 @ 09:17 AM

If you’re a small- to medium-sized company, you know firsthand that a careful and strategic media campaign can help grow your business from a local player to a national brand. That’s the good news. The bad news is, launching a successful media campaign is one part art form, two parts science, and a whole lot of skill and knowledge.

Today’s media landscape is utterly confusing with new channels being added regularly. It takes a sophisticated media process to execute a successful campaign in the current marketplace, which is why many organizations are reaching out to professional media planning agencies.

But how do you choose the right agency for your particular campaign’s needs? The most experienced and qualified media specialists generally follow specific steps when they plan a media buy.

When speaking with potential media partners, make sure they follow these best practices:

market-analysisThey Conduct a Thorough Market Analysis

Solid media planning does not exist in a vacuum and a qualified media agency will, without question, complete a background analysis of your company before developing any sort of media buying plan. This analysis will take a strategic look at your business objectives as well as review your business’ sales, distribution, and competitive environments.

They Understand Financial Concepts

When speaking with your potential partners, make sure they understand basic financial concepts such as lifetime value of a customer, profit margins, the breakeven point of a program, seasonality of purchases and your sales cycle length. This is important because your planner will need to develop a strategy that aligns with your budget so you can get the greatest ROI possible.

They Use the Right Tools

Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to find the right media partner. For example, you should ask which analytic tools they use to determine which market to target. These tools should be able to tell them what your target market’s media habits are. The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at a media program if your message isn’t delivered to the right audience.

They Should Match Target Research to the Proper Media Mixmediamix

As we mentioned up top, the media landscape has become much more complex with fragmentation. A great media planner knows it doesn’t matter how cost efficient the buy was if the buy isn’t effective. If your targets aren’t reached, your campaign was all for not (AKA worthless).

Matching target research to the proper media mix is the foundation of every good and effective media program. Speak with your potential media partner and ask how they build a media mix. What experience do they have with the media they are proposing? Also, ask for specific examples of programs they’ve planned and run for other clients using the same channels.

They Believe in Testing

A professional media planner knows there is no one-size-fits-all approach to media buys. They believe in customizing plans for each and every client to insure their program uses the budget effectively and efficiently while delivering quantifiable results. Your media partner should embrace testing various media to find just the right mix for your objectives.

They Have Established a Successful Negotiation Process

handshakeEvery single media planner you sit down with will tell you the same thing: they negotiate the best price. Well, they should, or why are they in business in the first place? However, great negotiation is about much more than getting the best price – it’s also about getting the best placement.

The best media planners and buyers negotiate with one objective and that is to deliver BOTH the best price and the best spot where the target customer will be able to engage with your messaging. Brilliant concept, right? Don’t settle for anything less!

Choosing the right media planning agency for you can at times seem daunting. If you follow these guidelines you should be able to select the agency that will offer you a higher level of success and greater ROI.

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Image Credit: "Handshake" by EDHAR / shutterstock.com

Topics: media buying, media planning, media planning agency

Is Non-Traditional Marketing Right for Your Business?

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 @ 09:48 AM

Some forms of traditional advertising, like newspaper ads, have been around for over a hundred years. Advertising on other traditional media, like radio and television, became common in the 1960s. In the last 50+ years, traditional advertising has become the standard tactic by which most businesses engage with their audiences.

However, many marketers are now questioning the effectiveness of some of these channels. Direct mail has become increasingly expensive, while Tivo, Netflix and iPods have made it easy for consumers to skip right past TV ads. Is it any wonder that CMOs are looking for unique advertising strategies and channels?

What is Non-Traditional Marketing Exactly?

You most likely know what non-traditional advertising isn’t: it isn’t traditional advertising. But… what is it exactly? Simply put, non-traditional advertising is highly creative and uses unorthodox strategies with the goal of developing striking and memorable experiences that capture consumer interest. A lot of non-traditional marketing involves putting ads in unexpected or unusual places or displaying your messaging in ways that gets a lot of attention.

Why Consumers Respond to Non-Traditional AdsECONOMIST-BALLOON

People crave engagement, which is why they instinctively like non-traditional advertising and view it as more authentic and organic. There’s no denying that today’s consumer is more sophisticated and savvy, but definitely more skeptical and cynical as well. They are, by and large, immune to much of the traditional ads that are hurtling at them every second of every day.

Benefits of Going Non-Traditional

Besides knowing your audience will most likely respond favorably to your messaging, what other benefits do non-traditional ads offer?

These types of ads allow you to really target your specific demographic on THEIR territory. For instance, sneaker manufacturers might place ads on a public basketball court and diaper makers might place them in airport restrooms above the changing station.

Non-traditional advertising can also cost far less than traditional advertising channels like TV and radio spots, which, even in a local market, can costs thousands of dollars. A creative street market campaign can cost less than a hundred dollars with a potentially staggering ROI.

Challenges of Non-Traditional Advertising

While they can be cheaper, engaging, and highly targetable, non-traditional campaigns are also very unpredictable and hard to measure. Because it relies on tactics that fall way outside of traditional marketing, it’s typically hard to quantify a non-traditional campaign’s success or failure. Another potentially negative about this method is that, should your campaigns end up being confusing or just poorly executed, they may confuse your audience and create a negative brand image.

Kit-Kat-BenchIs Non-Traditional Right for Your Business?

At this point you may be thinking that this whole non-traditional marketing thing sounds pretty good and want to get started developing your first campaign. While many companies who deploy non-traditional campaigns have been major, national brands, smaller businesses can and have used this tactic with great results.

The only thing that is really needed is creativity and a clear vision of your campaign’s goals. If you currently have a limited marketing budget, using non-traditional marketing methods may be something to consider. Just remember to take into account that results can be unpredictable and although very affordable, you do risk wasting time and effort.

A Traditional and Non-Traditional Mix

Billions of dollars each year are spent on traditional advertising in this country, so we know that many of those channels are still working. Since traditional and non-traditional marketing strategies each have advantages and disadvantages, many marketers find success with a mix of both.

So how do you develop and deploy a non-traditional campaign? We’ve already mentioned that non-traditional marketing relies on numerous unknown factors, but that doesn’t mean you just slap a campaign together willy-nilly and launch it, hoping for the best. No, as with traditional campaigns, it is equally important to develop a comprehensive plan that will focus your efforts and give you the greatest chance at success.

Step 1: Define Your Audience

Your plan must start with defining exactly who your target audience is. This very step is going to help you determine whether a non-traditional approach even makes sense. Products with broad appeal tend to do the best with non-traditional tactics whereas products with limited appeal may not find much success with non-traditional campaigns.


Step 2: Select Your Specific Strategy

Don’t just pick a strategy out of the sky and think because it’s unique you can’t lose. You can lose, so select the strategy because you know it will impact your customers positively. Dig through market research to figure out the best way to align your message with your target demographic.

Step 3: Negotiate Deals

Once you know which channel you are going to employ, it’s time to negotiate deals so you can start placing ads in some unusual places. The tricky part is, since you are most likely showing ads in places they have never been shown before, you will need to be an artful negotiator. You may want to consider using a media buyer who has experience with placing non-traditional buys and let them negotiate with property owners on your behalf.

Step 4: Define Your Metrics

We’ve saved the most difficult step for last because, as we mentioned earlier, measuring non-traditional campaign success can be difficult. Whereas a direct marketing campaign has an obvious objective, typically to make more sales, a non-traditional campaign may be deployed to facilitate a brand makeover or simply get some buzz created for a new product line. You’ll still need to do your best to determine what indicators you will use to measure.

Non-traditional advertising can be a highly effective part of your overall media mix. Just make sure to do some research and plan accordingly to experience the biggest gains.

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Image Credit: "The Economist: Brain Balloon" by Billy Siegrist is licensed under CC BY 2.0

5 Rules for Determining the Right Media Mix

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 @ 01:16 PM

With the continued fragmentation of the marketing landscape, it has become increasingly difficult for CMOs to know whether or not they are spending their budgets on the right media mix. Obviously, every individual brand has different campaign objectives, but typically speaking, there are some hard and fast rules to recognizing if your media mix is working for you or not.

Rule Number 1: If None of Your Traffic/Leads are Coming from Mobile – It’s Time to Shake Things Up

While different industries and verticals require different channels to reach their audience, at this point in time, mobile marketing should definitely be a part of your media mix. Consumers are now spending more time on their mobile devices than ever before, which means if none of your business is coming from mobile campaigns, you’re leaving an awful lot of money on the table.

And, to be clear, the importance of including mobile into your marketing mix goes for purely online businesses, brick-and-mortar businesses, local, national, B2B and B2C businesses. Mobile is simply one of the best ways to get yourself in front of a larger audience.

Rule Number 2: If You’re Not Using Your First-Party Data, You’re Most Likely Not Using the Best Channels Available to Youstatistics-90357_1280

Perhaps you jumped on the CRM (customer relationship management) bandwagon awhile back and are now using a system with incredibly robust features. You may even have a healthy base of customers and a perfectly segmented list of subscribers. But are you using the data available to you?

If you’re still not advertising on Facebook or display because the two other times you tried, your campaigns didn’t perform well, then no, chances are you aren’t leveraging your data.

In the last few years alone the targeting options available to marketers have exploded. Think Google’s Similar Audiences, Twitter’s Tailored Audiences, and Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences. By using your data you can determine who your customers already are, then use these new channels to go prospecting for people who “look” just like them.

Rule Number 3: Spy on Your Competition to Know What Channels are Working for Them

Are you paying attention to what your competitors are doing? You should be, because this can generally be the greatest source of marketing information available to you. While we are not suggesting you build your entire marketing campaign and strategy on copycatting, we are suggesting that the next time you plan your media mix, take a look at what channels your competitors are using and how successful they are, because odds are they are targeting the exact same demographics.


Rule Number 4: Don’t Throw Money at Every Shiny New Channel

At one time Pinterest, Instagram and Vine were all shiny new channels, and they’ve turned out to be very useful in many brands’ marketing mix. But for every successful new channel there are a dozen duds that come onto the digital scene.

Keep your eyes and ears open for any and all new advertising options, but fiscally speaking, it’s better to be in the second wave of adopters. A majority of new channels have bugs and unrefined reporting, so why not let those with bigger budgets test the waters first?

Rule Number 5: Make Sure You Really Know What Each Channel Offers

How can you possibly know which channels will serve you best unless you know exactly what they offer? For instance, should you add newspaper ads into your mix? Well, if your ideal prospect is a baby boomer with a healthy dose of disposable income, then yes you should. Newspapers are highly effective at delivering your message to this particular demographic. If you are a B2B marketer and haven’t really looked into LinkedIn, why not? If you’re selling a very visual product but haven’t tested Pinterest yet, again, why not? Until you really know the advantages of each channel, you’ll have a hard time determining the right mix for your campaigns.

Knowing which channels you should be spending your budget on isn’t rocket science, but it does take some thought, investigating and subsequent testing. Use these 5 rules to help you determine the winning media mix for your business.

Download the CMO's Guide to Integrating Print and Digital Media

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Topics: media buying, media planning

16 Best Practices for Insert Media Advertising

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Aug 11, 2015 @ 09:14 AM

Insert media is the ultimate form of insider marketing. By sending your offers as part of the delivery of an already trusted merchant, prospects see your creative in the most positive possible light. Here are 16 best practices to put your marketing materials in the right packages and make the most of insert media advertising.

1. Test Small …free-standing-inserts
… but be sure to test enough to be statistically valid. Many advertisers feel they do not have the budget to embark on a successful insert media campaign. This is not true. Most advertisers do not need to distribute millions of pieces to determine if the channel can work. Minimize your risk by distributing enough to accurately read your response. Testing four programs with 25,000 in each is often better than testing one program with 100,000.

2. Test Smart
When deciding which programs to test, there are many factors that should be considered. First and foremost are the demographics of the host program. In addition, you must be aware of the total universe of the program so there is opportunity to roll out should the tests prove successful. However, don’t be lured into testing a program solely because there is ample volume of packages.

3. Test Broad
Vary your test in terms of category and audience. Testing different audiences is smarter and safer than testing multiple programs in a single category. Do not only test gardening programs, for instance. Expand your distribution to reach buyers in other categories as well. This strategy increases your odds of finding a successful category while a one-dimensional test will result in an inaccurate portrayal of the medium as a whole.

4. Test, Retest
One successful test is not enough to warrant a full roll out in any channel. Take your time with your tests and make sure the positive results are accurate before committing to a larger roll out.

5. Code
It may sound simple, but you would be surprised by how many advertisers don’t code their inserts properly. Not only should each program have its own unique code, but each month in a particular program should also have a unique code. This will yield a better understanding of the insert’s performance in a program over time.

6. Control Works
When testing new channels, or new programs within a channel, stick with what works. After a successful test and retest, then you can expand to new formats, offers, or creative.

newspaper_insert_section7. Use the Space
Don’t get lost in the package—stand out! The average maximum dimensions for a package insert program are 5-1/2″ x 8 1/2″. Use that space as best you can. Don’t get lost in a package with a 3 1/2″ x 5″ insert when you can use one twice a large and attract more attention.

8. Share Results
It is important to share your successes and failures with your list broker. The more detailed the information you share, the more effective they will be in returning qualified program recommendations to you. If a program did not work for you at $45/M it may still be successful at $30/M, but your broker will never know that unless you are open and honest about your responses. A simple “it did not work” is not enough. Be as exact as possible.

9. Multiple Reply
Give the recipient more than one way to respond to your offer. Business reply card, 800 number, URL, even mobile barcodes should be incorporated into your creative. And make those calls to action prominent.

10. Optimize for Mobile
If you choose to incorporate a mobile link in your offer, be sure your site is optimized for mobile browsing. This also sounds basic, and it is, but I still see far too many companies who do not have their sites optimized for mobile. Also, as an alternative, if your offer is two steps or an information request, consider mobile links that simply open up a reply page as opposed to your main offer page. Let customers request your catalog and enter their information before directing them to your offer.

11. Track All Responses across All Channels
You know it’s happening. Customers are getting your catalog or direct mail piece and responding or purchasing online. The same goes for insert media. Do your best to track your responses across all channels so you know just where your customers are coming from.

12. Share Your History
When developing an insert media test campaign, it is very helpful for list brokers to have an understanding of the advertiser’s history with direct mail. The more history you share, the better the recommendation. Some of the lists you have mailed might have corresponding insert programs. If a particular list has been very successful, you should test its insert program as well, or others like it. Also, some lists you thought should have worked but were marginal could prove to be successful with the lower cost of insert media.

13. Be Wary of Duplication
Ask about duplication in programs from the same program owner. Many packages, blow-ins, ride-alongs, and statement programs will reach the same recipient at different times.

14. Maintain Insert Inventory
Although not prudent when in the testing phase, once you decide to roll out this becomes good practice. Programs are always looking for advertisers to fill empty slots at the last minute. Keep a few codes on hand to take advantage of these last minute deals. You’ll be glad you did.

15. Lead Times
Be aware of the lead times when planning your campaign. Most insert media campaigns need to be enacted weeks in advance of distribution. Program availability, collation, production, and delivery all come into play when scheduling your test.

16. Seasonality
When testing a new channel, be sure to test at a time you know performs best for your offer.

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Topics: newspaper inserts

What Political Campaign Blunders Can Teach Us about Print Advertising

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Aug 04, 2015 @ 08:54 AM

Well, another presidential election year is upon us and that means presidential candidate hopefuls are pulling out all the stops to raise billions of dollars for smear campaigns while shaking hands and kissing babies across this great land of ours. Though watching this political circus can be, at times, disheartening, it can also be quite enjoyable, like when politicians make some fairly incredible blunders that seem almost too good (or bad) to be possible. And, once a big blunder is made, it’s generally hard to recover from it, as history has shown us.

The good news for us is, some of the biggest political campaign blunders in history can teach us an awful lot about running a successful print ad campaign.

Dan Quayle and the Extra “E”What Political Campaign Blunders Can Teach Us about Print Advertising

This has got to be one of the biggest campaign blunders in all of political history. In1992, when running for re-election, Bush again tapped Dan Quayle to be vice president, even though there were rumors Bush was advised to replace him. Perhaps Bush should have listened because while visiting an elementary school in New Jersey for a photo op, Quayle watched as a young boy was asked to write the word “potato” up on the blackboard. After the student finished, Quayle hinted that he had forgotten one letter and urged the kid to add an “E” at the end of the word. Confused, the boy complied and added the “E” and Quayle said, “There you go!” The Bush team lost re-election.

Print Ad Campaign Lesson: Don’t Add What Doesn’t Belong

Never add too much to your print ad or it will become busy and overwhelm the reader who will quickly skip over it to the next. Keep your ad simple and clean and make sure to include enough white space. Also, stick to one font so your ad looks professional.

John Kerry’s Flip Flop

During a town hall meeting, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry came under attack for changing his mind on important issues. He decided to explain why he changed his mind on an important funding bill by announcing, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it.” Ummmmmmm. In the end, that single sentence is what kept many swing voters from voting for Kerry and why he became known as a big flip-flopper. Though he came darn close, Kerry was unable to unseat President George W. Bush.

Print Ad Campaign Lesson: Be Sure You’re Clear on Your Campaign’s Objective

You don’t want to find yourself three weeks into a campaign with thousands of dollars spent only to discover you’ve changed your mind about what the ad should say and do. Before even getting to the creative stages of developing an effective ad, decide the ad’s objective – promoting a sale, offering a coupon, announcing a new location, etc. Only when you know the ad’s objective should you begin thinking about creative.

What Political Campaign Blunders Can Teach Us about Print AdvertisingSarah Palin vs. Katie Couric

In 2008, presidential candidate John McCain announced he had selected Alaskan governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. Palin was only the second woman ever to run for vice president (Geraldine Ferraro was first to run in 1984) and instantly charmed the media. McCain soon took a lead in the polls and all seemed like he might actually stand a chance at beating President Obama.

And then Palin agreed to a one-on-one interview with Katie Couric. It soon became very clear that Palin had not prepared enough, or at all, for this interview as her answers all came across as rote. She also couldn’t name one single newspaper or magazine that she read and instead said, “All of ‘em. Any of ‘em.”

Print Ad Campaign Lesson: Do Your Homework

Unless you do your homework and know exactly who your target audience is, what their pain points are, and how your offer can solve their problem, your campaigns will never be successful.

Howard Dean and the Scream

In 2004, governor of Vermont, Howard Dean, became an unexpected candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. He quickly rose in the polls with his promise of reclaiming the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party” and to end the war in Iraq immediately. In no time Dean became the one to beat and there was talk that he might beat Bush.

And then “it” happened. During the Iowa caucuses, as Dean was addressing a large crowd at his headquarters, he was forced to shout over all of the noise. He very loudly and enthusiastically declared, “Not only are we going to New Hampshire…we’re going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we’re going to California and Texas and New York…. And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House!” Then he let out a sort of crazy scream. While he was most likely just excited and trying to be heard above the din, and he was the only one mic’d, he still came across as certifiably nuts. His campaign never recovered.

Print Ad Campaign Lesson: Remain Calm

Advertising is a marathon not a sprint and you’ll have to stay levelheaded and calm before you start to see results and a return on your investment. This is important to know going into your campaign. We have seen many advertisers panic and change courses before their ad even had a chance. You also need to remain calm when testing new channels that may not present themselves as valuable immediately.

Al Gore’s Claim He Invented the InternetWhat Political Campaign Blunders Can Teach Us about Print Advertising

Vice President Al Gore was in a head-to-head race against former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley when he sat down with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. When asked to list his qualifications for president, Gore boasted, “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.” Well, now, let’s take a look at that statement…. Yes, Gore was indeed an early proponent of the Internet but the creator? No. This bold and inaccurate statement damaged his campaign and labeled Gore as a serial exaggerator.

Print Ad Campaign Lesson: Don’t Make Claims You Can’t Back Up

Never use your advertising to trick readers into thinking you’re offering something you’re not. Be transparent and honest, always, and never exaggerate. For instance, if you won an award a few years ago for exceptional customer service, you can say that, but don’t claim you’ve won this award for the past five years in a row.

Print advertising is not very different from political advertising when you think about it. You can either manage your ad campaign toward victory, or make a big blunder that you may not recover from.

Free eBook: The Benefits of Print Advertising


Image credit: "Al Gore at SapphireNow 2010" by Tom Raftery is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0"Sarah Palin" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Topics: print advertising

Create Direct Response Ads That Actually Get a Response

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Jul 28, 2015 @ 09:31 AM

More than ever CMOs are facing increased scrutiny when it comes to how they spend their marketing budgets. This is particularly true for small- and medium-sized businesses who require a significant ROI on every single advertising dollar to stay afloat. Because of this, traditional brand advertising is taking a back seat to direct response advertising.

You’ve probably figured out the hard way that it’s rather difficult to measure traditional brand advertising. Not so with direct response. These ads are far more tangible and easier to track, which is priceless to cost-conscious marketers. But with this obvious benefit comes a whole new set of best practices that advertisers can use to manage their direct response campaigns and optimize their revenue potential.

In order to manage the unique challenges and achieve real campaign optimization, as well as increase that revenue, marketers must focus on a few key campaign components:

Consistently Test for Performance

If your goal is to maximize your return on investment, then recognize now a critical advertising truth: One size never fits all. Ever. For this reason you had better get very comfortable with the idea of testing. Here’s your new chant: test, refine, optimize. Say it with me… test, refine, optimize.

Your direct response ads will live on different channels. What works on the radio may not work on TV or in your local newspaper or in a direct mail campaign. What performs well on one may bomb on another, so routinely test, refine, and optimize.

Track and Analyze Your LeadsCreate Direct Response Ads That Actually Get a Response

If you have no tools in place to track and analyze your leads, then most of the money spent on your campaigns is for nothing. You’ve got to be able to figure out where your leads came from and if they are converting well or not. Once you’re able to track and analyze, create a report of your campaign’s performance so you may take actionable steps to correct what isn’t working.

Cost and Long-Term Value

Before you begin crafting your direct response campaign you’ll need to determine what you can realistically afford to pay for each lead and subsequent sale, or risk running into trouble down the road. When figuring this cost, make sure to consider the long-term value of each customer and brainstorm ways you can pull even more revenue out of each. These figures should be factored into your upfront marketing costs.

Once your campaigns have been launched, take another look at your metrics to be sure your financial projections on long-term customer value were correct.

Be Sure Your Copy Is On Point

Direct response copy is very different from every other form of copy. Where an article or blog post is meant to educate, and a branded commercial is meant to briefly get viewer attention and subliminally plant an idea, a direct response ad is designed to lead the reader to make a buying decision right then and there. The goal of direct response advertising is getting the prospect to take immediate action. And the best part is direct response copy can be easily tested and adjusted to significantly improve the outcome.

As David Olgilvy once said, “Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.”

Create Direct Response Ads That Actually Get a ResponseCommunicate Clearly with Your Media Buyer

Communication is obviously important to any campaign, but it’s particularly important in direct response. When branding is the goal, you have more time to see if the campaign has reached its objective. When immediate sales are the goal, and constant adjustment is critical to reach that ROI, keeping your media buyer in the loop with every change is essential.

Be sure to clearly communicate your expectations such as targets and budget with your buyer, and be open to their feedback, edits and ideas. A good media buyer will have more insights into which media and channels will offer more revenue potential. Constant communication will ensure you hit your campaign’s goals.

These guidelines will help you plan your next direct response campaigns so they actually get the desired response.

Request a Free Local Media Analysis for Your Clients!



Topics: direct response advertising

4 Reasons Newspaper Inserts Are Highly Effective in the Digital Age

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 @ 08:53 AM

As a marketer, you may be surprised to learn that today’s consumers still turn to traditional media despite an increase in their digital media consumption habits. According to a Coupon Trends report by Inmar, coupons are still the most powerful influencer among shoppers, and many of those coupons are found and clipped from newspaper inserts. In 2014, distribution increased by 3.2 percent and 2.9 billion coupons were redeemed.

Newspaper Inserts Have a Wide Reach4 Reasons Newspaper Inserts Are Highly Effective in the Digital Age

Also known as free standing inserts or FSIs, newspaper inserts are the single sheet ads placed in the center of newspapers that are distributed to readers in targeted ZIP codes. These inserts include a variety of promotional offers such as information on current sales, mini-catalogs, and new product launches.

Savvy shoppers use these inserts to save on products and services they use often. And, despite what you’ve heard about newspaper circulation declining over the last few years, inserts still reach approximately 50 million households on a weekly basis. That’s not a number to sniff at.

The most advantageous aspect of advertising with these inserts is that they drive consumers to take action. For example, a survey conducted by MORI research found that 70% of consumers “regularly” or “occasionally” read newspaper inserts, while 60% of consumers clipped coupons from newspaper inserts and 50% purchased a product as a result of an ad.

Newspaper Inserts Bridge the Online and Offline Divide

4 Reasons Newspaper Inserts Are Highly Effective in the Digital AgeIs advertising with inserts an “old school” approach? Undoubtedly. But this “old school” offline tactic supports mobile commerce and ecommerce spending trends. A survey conducted by Valassis found that within 30 days of viewing a newspaper insert, 30% of people went online to get more information.

Newspaper inserts are also incredibly effective for retailers who want to drive foot traffic into their brick and mortar stores. In fact, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal has broken the good news that newspaper inserts drove more retail shoppers than digital ads and are, without a doubt, the most powerful drive-to-retail media available to marketers.

4 Reasons to Include Newspaper Inserts Into Your Marketing Mix

As you’ve just read, newspaper inserts generate a high response from consumers who seek these marketing messages during their shopping routine. Here are four more reasons why including inserts into your multi-channel marketing strategy can bring you a return on your investment.

  1. Lasting Power
    The thing with digital ads is they are fleeting. They’re there one second and gone the next. But newspapers have real lasting power and tend to stick around in consumers’ homes longer than most other media. This means people spend more time interacting with inserts and browsing deals and offers.

  2. You Can’t Beat Sunday Shoppers
    Getting your inserts into the Sunday paper is like getting your kid into Harvard: You can expect good things from it. Sunday is considered “shopping” day for many consumers. This is the day people actively seek out the inserts so they can plan their weekly shopping schedule. Can you imagine having consumers actively seek out your ads?

  3. A Massive Audience
    Don’t believe all of the hype about print being dead. Statistics clearly show that newspapers still reach a very large audience. In fact, according to data from the Newspaper Association of America, 83% of adults regularly or occasionally read a newspaper while 56% of young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 read the newspaper either in print or online.

  4. Consumers Adore Anything That Makes Their Life Easier
    You’re a consumer. Don’t you tend to love anything that makes your life easier? Well, newspaper inserts save consumers time and money. Consumers rely on inserts when researching offers on products they are planning on buying and they enjoy browsing to discover even more ways they can save.

Newspaper inserts continue to be one of the most influential marketing channels with the power to affect consumers’ buying choices. Inserts help consumers find what they need at an affordable price while increasing brand awareness. If you haven’t incorporated inserts into your
multi-channel marketing mix, now’s the time.

Free Guide: How to Target Your Audience with Free Standing Inserts


Topics: newspaper inserts

6 Factors That Affect Magazine Advertising Rates

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Jul 14, 2015 @ 09:48 AM

When it comes to magazine advertising, there are a wide range of pricing options. Much of that is dependent on whether it’s a local magazine, which costs less, as opposed to a national magazine that has millions of subscribers and will charge far more.

6 Factors That Affect Magazine Advertising RatesLet’s take a look at some of the things that factor into magazine advertising rates.


One of the biggest and most obvious factors in cost will be the size of your ad. Unless you’re dealing with a magazine that has no interest in making money, larger ads are going to cost more than smaller ads. Ads are typically sold as fractions of a page. Full-page and half-page ads are exactly how they sound. Quarter-page ads may be horizontal or vertical.

When looking at the rate card you will see production values that identify the size in inches as well as by fraction of a page, and you will notice an obvious pricing difference between local and national publishers. A national sporting magazine may charge $250,000 for a full-page ad while a local niche magazine may only charge $10,000 for a full-page ad.


Here’s something we make sure all our clients understand: magazines will charge less per ad if you commit to running ads in more than one issue. So a one-time ad may cost you $3,000 while that same ad, if run in five issues, might only cost you $1,800. Understand that you will have to sign a contract and be obligated to pay for all five issues, or a total of $9,000.

You should also be aware that some magazines charge a set-up fee so, if on the fourth running of that ad you decide you want to change your header, you might be charged for it.

Regional Rates6 Factors That Affect Magazine Advertising Rates

You may sometimes be able to run your ad in the regional edition of a national publication and pay less because the regional edition has less subscribers than the national edition. But if you’re a small local business you have no need for national exposure anyway. The cost will be a flat rate for your region and will be adjusted accordingly based on size of your ad, color, and the number of subscribers in that region.


It goes without saying that color ads cost more than standard black and white ads, but then again, color has a way of popping and drawing the reader’s eye to the ad, so you usually get what you pay for.


Another big factor of magazine rates is where your ad is placed. Do you want it to go inside the front cover, inside the back cover or on the back cover itself? Keep in mind these are prime advertising spaces. Also know that advertising toward the front of the magazine will typically cost more than advertising toward the back, for obvious reasons (with the exception of the back cover which, as we mentioned, is a prime location that will cost you a pretty penny.)


The most important thing to understand about rate cards is that what you see is similar to rates that are posted for hotel and motel rooms. In other words, prices are always negotiable. Typically speaking, smaller magazines will be the ones who give you bigger discounts. For instance, a small regional magazine may be willing to give you extra issues at no charge if you commit to a run of half-page ads for six issues. To view a magazine’s rate card, simply look for it on their website and speak to a sales representative about pricing options and discounts.

Magazine advertising can greatly benefit your business because it allows you to display higher quality images than newspaper or direct mail. These images make it easy for you to give readers a clear view of your product. Besides this benefit, magazines also make it incredibly easy to target specific niche demographics so you’re much more likely to reach your intended audience.

If at any point you feel overwhelmed by magazine advertising rates, turn to a trusted media buyer who can handle and negotiate your deals for you and generally get you better pricing and a better return on your investment.

Download this fact sheet and learn 10 reasons why magazines are still an effective advertising channel.


Topics: magazine advertising

8 Newspaper Advertising Ideas for Local Businesses

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Jul 07, 2015 @ 10:55 AM

If you’re a small local business, you know the challenge of getting your brand message out there on a tight budget. The key to making your ad spend go farther is to make your newspaper ads work harder. Scratch that, the key to newspaper advertising success is to make your ads work smarter.

Here are eight newspaper advertising ideas for local businesses:

1. Advertise Like David, Not Goliath8 Newspaper Advertising Ideas for Local Businesses

So many small local businesses have ad envy; they want the budget to be able to place those huge, flashy, full page ads like their bigger competition. Stop obsessing over the size of your ad. David brought Goliath down and he didn’t do it with a huge boulder; he did it with one tiny rock.

You’d be surprised how effective multiple small ads can be as compared to one or two large ones. So, think about running four quarter page ads instead of one full-page ad, or even a few 3 column by 8 inch ads, then check your sales results. Don’t be surprised if sales have gone up.

As a side note, consumers tend to assume large ads are placed by large companies, and small ads by small companies. Since there has been a consumer shift and people are more likely to want to support their local merchants, you might be better off placing smaller ads, at least for starters.

2. Speak in Terms of Benefits

You’re paying for every single letter in your newspaper ad, so don’t throw your money away by printing your product or service features. No one really cares. Instead focus on telling your prospects what benefits you offer.

3. Keep It Simple

A clean and simple format and layout is always best. Continue this same format throughout all of your ads for brand consistency.

4. Use Thin Line or No Line Borders

Many local business owners make the mistake of selecting an ornate border to use around their ads with the (false) belief it will make their ad pop. Typically these borders just eat up expensive real estate and do little else. Go for either a thin line border or a white border which will make your ad stand out while keeping it classy.

5. Stick with One Font

The last thing you want is for your ad to come across as busy and unprofessional so select one font and use it all throughout the ad. Your logo may use another font, but keep the rest of your ad uniform.

6. Don’t Screw Up Your Headline

Spend as much time as you have to create a strong headline. What makes a strong headline? It draws the reader in, gains their full attention, and gets them to read the rest of the ad. How do you do this? By telling people exactly how your offer will improve their life.

8 Newspaper Advertising Ideas for Local Businesses

7. Don’t Assume Your Graphics Will Do the Heavy Lifting

When it comes to newspaper advertising, words sell and art supports your sales pitch. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your entire ad will be an image with one tiny little tag line. Text is powerful in print.

8. Show Your Product or Service Being Used

And speaking of images… include images of your product being used and enjoyed. No one wants to see a boring old image of your storefront. Can we please let those images rest in peace? If you sell pizza, show people eating your delicious pizza. People want to see images they can place themselves in.

Newspaper advertising can be an incredible way to reach your market and generate sales. Just remember to use these eight ideas to increase the effectiveness of your ads.

Download this fact sheet and learn 10 reasons why newspapers are still an effective advertising channel.


Topics: newspaper advertising

5 Steps to Effective Media Planning

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Jun 30, 2015 @ 10:12 AM

In this ever-cluttered marketplace, many advertisers are making a critical mistake. They focus too heavily on budget when developing their campaigns and completely neglect something far more important: their media plan. For your campaigns to be successful and your messages to make the right impact, much thought should be given to the markets you serve and the channels you choose for delivery.

Here are five steps to effective media planning:

1. Define Your Goal

What is the goal of your particular campaign? Is it to extend your brand awareness? To announce a new product line? Promote a sale? Get people to sign up for your webinar or newsletter? Each of your ad campaigns must be assigned just one specific goal. You can’t plan media without a goal in mind.

2. Determine Your Ideal Prospect5 Steps to Effective Media Planning

Before you can begin to brainstorm potential media channels, you’ve first got to determine, if you don’t know already, who your ideal prospect is. Start by looking at your current customer base. Who buys from you and why do they buy from you? Which customers bring you the most business? Chances are other people like these customers would also buy from you.

Another great resource is your competition. Who are they targeting? Who’s currently buying from them? The key is to NOT target the same people, rather look for a niche market your competitors are overlooking.

And finally, analyze your own products or services with a focus on the benefits. Once you know what your benefits are, you’ll know who your product may benefit. For example, your pizza shop delivers until 10PM when everyone else stops delivering by 8PM. Your service will benefit college kids and adults getting home late from night classes.

3. Conduct the Necessary Research

Once you know your target market you’ll need to conduct the necessary research so you can determine the best channels to reach prospects. What are the most trusted media outlets in your industry? What are your prospects’ interests? How do they get their news? Which social media platforms do they prefer?

You’ll also want to review all the publications and digital channels you are considering to ascertain potential cost. For example, how large of an ad will you need to stand out in your local paper? Can you make a big impact with a half page ad, or will you need to bring out the big guns and buy a full-page full-color ad?

5 Steps to Effective Media Planning4. Plan Ahead for the Greatest Value

Planning your media buys well in advance will ultimately help you get better value because it will allow you to sign contracts ahead of time. Doing so offers three main cost benefits:

  1. By signing frequency agreements you can often obtain discounted rates.
  2. You can usually sign contracts and be able to lock in present year rates which will extend through the following year.
  3. Signing contracts well in advance allows you to negotiate with digital publishers and print sales reps.

Be sure to inquire about premium positions which go fast and go early.

5. Get Some Help

At any point during your media planning if you feel overwhelmed, your best bet is to seek help from a reputable media buyer. Working with a media buyer offers multiple benefits.

For starters, they generally have various programs to fit a variety of advertising goals and budgets.

Secondly, media buyers are specialists who make it their business to be efficient in market and data analysis as well as understanding the performance of all channels from outdoor to print and mobile. Media buyers also have longstanding relationships with publishers and vendors so they can effectively work on your behalf.

And finally, media buyers are able to negotiate and get the best prices for their clients because they bring so much business to vendors and sales reps. Beyond better terms and rates, buyers can often negotiate bonus media space and extended contract times.

When it comes down to it, media planning is the backbone of your entire brand message. The stronger that backbone is, the harder your campaigns will work for you, and the bigger your bottom line will be.

Request a Free Local Media Analysis for Your Clients!


Image credit: "The Assembly" by Linda Goldstein is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Topics: media planning

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