With the age of digital, trade magazines have undergone significant downsizing and are constantly trying to sell digital services, such as banner ads and email newsletters. Advertisers are attracted to the price tag as well as the pitch. But contrary to what many say, trade magazine print advertising is still very much alive and when used effectively can yield a significant ROI - especially when you consider that 75% of B2B professionals read trade publications on a weekly basis. Effective and well-designed print ads are still the foundation upon which brands are built, and what separates success from failure is the execution.
An advertisement can be really bad, but still be effective. Likewise, an ad can be great and perform poorly. It simply comes down to the size of the print advertisement and how many times it’s run, which leads to the number of impressions. No matter the creative concept, if you spend enough money people will remember. Most companies do not have the unlimited financial resources to literally buy market mindshare, instead it’s important to find balance between the size and placement. There are in fact many different strategies to employ with regard to placement and frequency in order to maximize exposure. A good general rule to follow, however, is never run an advertisement less then three times per year, and never place an advertisement smaller than one third page vertical.
Successful print advertisements are not brochures. A print advertisement has less then five seconds to catch the viewer’s attention and draw him/her into the messaging. Print advertisements are competing against articles and other forms of media and advertising, so it’s important to Keep It Simple Stupid. An effective ad simply introduces, announces, or reinforces. More simply put, a print advertisement says, “Hello, my name is….” Or “Hi Bob, remember me?” It is not meant to close a sale, that’s the job of the sales team. It’s simply a tool to foster or enable conversation.
The best way to approach ad concept is to find your brand or product’s unique selling benefit. What makes it different? What will next year’s selling points be? Is the key benefit(s) in the technology, customer service, or price point? It is vital to find, or in some cases invent the point of differentiation and tie that into the creative messaging.
Print Advertisements can stand alone, but they shouldn’t. Successful campaigns are tied to one clear message that is disseminated throughout different media. The main creative concept and messaging should be intertwined across tradeshow promotions, email blasts, direct mailers, as well as sell sheets and videos. Campaigns are a chance to tell a story with individual materials flowing together to paint a picture. Each piece of material tells its own story, but is more effective when the market sees or experiences the entirety of the campaign. For example, your company has a national tradeshow in four months. Place a series of three ads leading up to the tradeshow with the final advertisement running in the show special edition. After the first advertisement hits the publication, release an email blast containing a similar theme and message of the first advertisement. Make sure the second advertisement contains show information and follow up with a direct mailer containing a similar theme and reminding them to see you at the show. Two weeks prior to the show send out an email blast once a week reminding them to see you at the show. The third advertisement in the show special can either reinforce the message or have a custom tailored message for attendees and those who couldn’t make it to the conference. This type of multifaceted campaign works best. It effectively disseminates a similar concept and messaging from the print advertising across a spectrum of medias - all focused on producing face-to-face conversations on the trade show floor.