How to advertise your business in the press

To get the best from advertising in the press you need to reach as many of your target audience as possible at the best price. Your options include local papers, national papers, trade journals and trade directories. The good news is you should be able to get audited readership profiles for all of these products, so match your advertising requirements to these profiles. This guide outlines the benefits of each form of print advertising, what frequency, position and size of ad to go for and offers tips on producing a compelling advertisement.

Your options

Phone directories such as Yellow Pages and Thompson Local are relatively cheap and have a long shelf life, but because there's a lot of competition they're not so good for branding ads.  Trade press is generally well read by its target audience, and is a good option if you sell to other businesses or if you have a specialist product or service.  Local press is usually relatively cheap and has a large, localised circulation.  If you need a much larger circulation, look at national press - although it's much more expensive. It be worht considering if you've got a UK-wide service.  Finally, consumer magazines allow you to do sophisticated colour ads, plus they have a relatively long shelf life, but again they can be expensive.

  • Different publications are suited to different businesses
  • Trade, local and directories are more focused and cheaper than national
  • National and consumer allow more sophisticated ads to reach a wider audience

What kind of ad to go for

Classified ads are usually the cheapest options - they contain only words. Display advertisements are bigger and more sophisticated.  They generally appear on editorial pages and make use of colour and photos, and are specially designed for these slots. There's also the advertorial option - where the ad is laid out like an editorial page but features you and your business. You could also go for an insert that's stuffed inside the paper or magazine.  Publishers charge more for different positions and sizes. You pay more if you want an ad on a right hand page, or near the front of the product, or in the top right of a page. These are the areas that are seen by the most readers and typically command a 20 per cent premium.

  • Classified ads are cheaper than display or advertorial
  • Inserts are more expensive
  • Right-hand page or top right and to the front of a publication are the most seen and expensive positions

Things to consider

As print ads are repeated their impact can lessen, so advertise in bursts.  Make sure you're in the right place - an ad for tyres should sit in the motoring section, for example.  Experts suggest the most effective place for a news paper ad is either page one or three.  When you're arranging a price for placing your ad, negotiate. Most publishers will come down from rate card prices.  Also, first time advertisers are usually eligible for a discount.  If you don't mind flying close to the wind, you can get better deals close to the date of publication, when publishers are  trying to fill space.

  • Advertise in bursts and make sure you've got the right position
  • Negotiate on price
  • First time advertisers and placing an ad close to publication date get the best deals

Ads that work

Your advertisement should sell the benefit of your product to your customer. For example, the low-fat spread Flora isn't sold on its great taste - instead they lead on its cholesterol-reducing health benefits.  Go for a bold headline that sells the benefits - pick a plain, large and bold typeface.  Use illustrations or photos sparingly and only when relevant.  If your advertisement has a coupon for readers to cut out and send in, make sure you position it at the edge of the page.

  • Lead on the greatest benefit to your target customer
  • Use bold, plain, large headline
  • Use pictures sparingly and only when relevant
  • Coupons need to be at the edge of the page

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