Online marketers and some web designers may try to have you believe that print ads are a waste of time and money. Believe it or not, print advertising may be waning, but it's not on its death bed just yet.

Don't believe me? Read this blog post over at DaleTing.com about how a newspaper ad raked in returns much better than Google AdWords did and for the same monthly cost. Go on, I'll wait. Don't worry, it's a short blog post.

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Back already? See, I told you it was a short blog post!

So you might be wondering why the print ad they ran worked so well for them but didn't for your business or product. Or your friend's business or product. Was it the copy in the ad? The headline? The photo?

The answer: None of the above.

It worked for them because the newspaper was highly targeted. In other words, the people who regularly read that publication are the exact kind of people that would buy the BBQ that Tremore is selling. Really, that's all there is to it. Of course, that's easier said than done.

I know how tempting it is to put an print ad campaign together and get it out to as many people as possible. The argument seems logical:

If I market to everyone, more people will buy!

Well, no. You see, not everyone is looking for what you're offering. Let's break it down into basic math.

We'll start by putting a number on a few things (all of which are arbitrary and round for example sake). Let's say the print ad you're putting out costs $1000 for one run and has a reach of 250,000 people (we'll pretend that it will actually be seen by 250,000 pairs of eyeballs).

Next, let's say that of those 250,000 people, 1% are the kind of people that would be interested in the widget. That's a pretty realistic percentage, so let's go with it. That would mean that out of 250,000 people, 25,000 are people interested.

Even within that 25,000 not everyone will be ready to buy. Let's say only 10% of those folks are ready to buy. That reduces the number to 2,500.

2,500 widgets sold at $1 a piece, means $2,500 revenue; still not bad. But we can't forget that not every single one will become a customer. Some will no doubt go to your competitor(s) for some reason or another. Let's say that half go to your competitors and/or just not buy. The new number is 1,250.

So out of 250,000 you might get 1,250 customers. That's 0.5%. So from a $1000 ad, you gained $1250 in revenue. Subtracting just the ad expense, that's a profit of $250. Meh.

Now let's say that you put an ad out that's targeted to just those 25,000 that would be interested in the widget in the first place (leaving out the 175,000 that couldn't care less). And let's say that ad, because it'll be in a smaller / less circulated publication, costs $250. Assuming you still end up with 1,250 customers, your ROI – return on investment – is higher. You get 50% of the audience at a profit of $1,000 – 75% higher than with the ad with a reach of 250,000 people.

In all fairness, the above example is very simplified, but it does serve to demonstrate how critical targeting your marketing efforts really are. The difference is like trying to catch fish in an ocean versus a small lake. You may have to figure out which lake the fish you want swim in, but once you've done that, you'll catch more fish.

So does this apply to just print advertising? No way! All successful advertising works on the premise that the better targeted the ad, the more you'll reap the rewards. Keep that in mind next time you're putting together a new ad campaign.


Published on January 10, 2012