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In Fact, for Some Businesses, It’s Actually a Less Competitive Environment Today.

Here’s a Contrarian Strategy You Can Profit From…

I’ve always been a fan of newspaper advertising, so when I sat down to write this — lo and behold, I was surprised at the negative comments newspaper and other print advertising is getting from the small business community these days.

It doesn’t work, they’re saying.  I’m doing all my advertising on Craigslist for free, others claim.  Print is dead, many advertisers opine.

But even though newspaper subscribership is down and advertising in major metro papers has followed suit, smart advertisers are using these facts to their advantage.  For one thing, with fewer ads appearing in newspapers, the ones that DO appear are much more effective — either because there’s little competition in that business category or there are simply fewer ads on the page.

And if you own a business that serves a local market (versus a national or international clientele), it’s quite possible your ideal customers are STILL reading one or more of your local newspapers regularly.

Who Might These Potential Customers Be?

• Seniors, retirees and pensioners for whom the Internet is not a familiar tool or who may not have Internet access

• Middle-income households who still read their local newspaper for local news and junior sports

• Readers of specialty newspapers (called “nichepapers”) such as new age journals, business journals, food & wine guides, home improvement periodicals and more

In fact, the growth of nichepapers is so promising that MediaNews Group (owners of the Oakland Tribune, Los Angeles Daily News, El Paso Times and 54 other papers) has grown its niche business to more than 240 different titles, with distribution in excess of 7 million (News & Tech, January 2010).  Other newspaper groups are following suit with nichepapers created for unique local populations.  The Gazette of Colorado Springs — home to five military installations — publishes Welcome Home for military families, while the Chicago Tribune publishes more than a dozen nichepapers dedicated to home improvement, food & wine, entertainment and more. (News & Tech, June 2010)

Most importantly for our purposes, however, these smaller nichepapers offer lower cost advertising rates especially to help local businesses.

If you’ve never tried newspaper advertising and believe it could help you reach your local market, here are some tips for generating the most new business from your advertising dollar…

How to Use Newspaper Advertising to Your Advantage

• Run specific offers in your advertisements. Standard phrases like We have low prices or We deliver great service or Serving the community for 30 years no longer work with newspaper readers.  They want to know what you can do for them. Replace these tired platitudes with specific offers like: We’ll sell you a top-of-the-line air conditioning unit for just $3,285 including a 5-year-written warranty and free replacement filters for as long as you own your home.  Being specific about your offers will boost your ad’s response.

Use newspaper advertising to generate an interest list before you open your business or before you launch a new product or service. I once knew a business owner who was planning a move across country, but wanted to see if he could restart his business in his new town.  He spent a little money 6-8 months prior to moving to test the market and generate prospective new clients who would immediately help him launch his business when he arrived.  The campaign was so successful, he confidently moved across country and was able to earn money from new clients even before he could get his new office up and running.  The pre-sold clients were even the source of the cash-flow necessary to start-up again in his new locale.

Negotiate lower rates as a first-time or frequent advertiser. If you’re advertising for the first time, you can easily argue that you need a reduced rate to “test” the newspaper’s effectiveness as an advertising medium.  If you’re a frequent advertiser, you can still argue for a lower rate by requesting that your ad sales rep find you remnant space in specific sections of the paper on specific days.  They will often accommodate you rather than lose your account.

• Run ads in regional editions to target your local neighborhoods.  If customers would never drive across town to shop at your store or use your services, why advertise that far away?  Most newspapers offer reduced ad rates in regional or neighborhood editions.  For instance, the Seattle Times charges $4,284 for an ad that’s 3 columns wide by 6 inches high. Yet the same 3×6 ad in the Times’ south-region edition costs just $948.

How Are YOU Using Newspapers and Niche Publications to Your Advantage?

Do you have a case study, unique strategy, recent insight or other newspaper-advertising story?

If so, I’d like to hear it. Please leave me a comment.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Wayan Vota