Advertising- is it worthwhile?

IF I were asked if it was worth it for a company to embark or invest in advertising in local publications, I could not give a yes or no answer.

I have spent a lot of today reviewing ads in a local focal and I am of the opinion that most companies send in advertising without thinking of the bigger picture.

Advertising is expensive.  For a small company it is of utmost importance to be careful about randomly advertising, sending out flyers, making posters, etc.

Utilising the principles of Public Relations will help to ensure that your advertising pays.

Advertising should be run as part of a public relations and marketing plan in order to ensure that the right target audiences are receiving the information at the correct point in time.  One should also ensure that the correct form of advertising is used.

In running the Advertising, public relations and marketing projects together you will be able to ensure that your advertising brief is relevant to what is current or important in your organisations goals.

Employing the services of a PR practitioner  will become evident in the quality of your advertising content and the feedback.

Feedback on an advertisement will be the key factor for evaluating and justifying the cost of advertising.  If you have no means of knowing what an advertisement does for your company, then can it.

So my advice for running advertising in local publications is:

  • Size, Placement – Check where in a publication your ad is being placed.  Ask what other ads are on the same or facing pages.  Request a mock-up of the entire page before signing up the ad.  The reason I say this is that there could be larger adverts placed alongside your ad which could drown out your ad.  Unfortunately these are also normally ads in the same industry.  Advertisers who drown out their competition in advertising.
  • Special offers / freebies –   Watch for ads on the same page which offer specials and discounts, this will distract readers. 
  • Toll free numbers – especially of ads placed which are in the same industry as you are.  Think for yourself, if you notice two ads for a similar product of service and one of them not only is a bigger ad with more colour but it also has a free call line – I am sure most people will agree what their choice would be.
  • Colour and graphics, photographs – if you are paying for full colour, may as well use photographs and pictures to enhance and draw attention to your advertisement.   It does not help to have a full colour advertisement  if your ad is all text, as full colour ads will be published on pages with full colour photographs which could very well draw attention away from your ad.
  • Colour is not always better – some ads can be very effective printed in black and white.  Even those printed on a page alongside colour ads.  Remember though to ensure the design of the ad is strong enough to draw the attention of readers.
  • Avoid busy ads – Do not overload an ad with information.  The initial intention of advertising to to draw the attention of people wanting to use your products and services.
  • Border a display ad – lots of newspapers and magazines do not use rule lines between ads and articles and your advert may well be lost.  Bordering an ad sets it aside from the other elements of a page.  An alternative option would be to use a different background colour for the ad.
  • Frequently placed ads – try to alternate designs and even pop in an advertorial occassionally.
  • Press releases – ask yourself if your company has a story or photographs which are newsworthy.  Send them in to the publication and ensure your ad placement is near the page where the press release is placed.

So there we go, just a few tips to begin with.  A few tips to demonstrate on a small-scale how you would benefit in contracting a public relations practitioner to assist in publicising and marketing your company.