Print marketing: a beginner’s guide

While inexpensive and quick-to-implement digital marketing has transformed the industry in recent years, traditional marketing techniques are still popular and widely successful today.

Investing in print marketing, for example, could introduce your brand to more and more customers, helping you to attract higher volumes of trade over the course of the year.

Print marketing, however, is more complex than it can initially appear. Some print marketing activities will prove more effective than others, while mistakes can be avoided and success achieved once you know the right techniques. Take a look at our brief strategic guide to print marketing and learn to do all the right things in future…

The format

There are numerous different print marketing formats you can explore during your marketing activities, and each possesses different attributes that will work in your favour under certain circumstances.

Depending on the nature of your brand, your audience and the products or services you’re trying to promote, certain formats will prove more effective than others. Take a look at just some of the most popular print marketing formats below:

  • Magazine advertisements – Magazine advertisements usually take the form of either quarter-, half- or full-page ads, depending on your budget and the structure of your ad. These can be particularly effective for companies looking to reach out to very specific audiences, as niche publications can ensure that your marketing materials reach the desired customers. On a tight budget, approach magazines and let them know that you may be willing to take some space at the last minute if they can offer you a good enough deal. We’ve heard of companies snagging adverts for a tiny fraction of the original quoted price, so don’t be afraid to use a take-it-or-leave-it attitude.
  • Newspaper advertisements – Otherwise much like magazine advertisements, newspaper ads can reach a broader circulation than most magazine ads, although they’re rarely as audience-specific. Again, keep your eyes open for last-second availability of spaces that will  be much more attractive to a limited budget.
  • Posters and billboards – Posters and billboards are a great way of attracting passing trade and raising brand awareness, while they can be situated in numerous locations in order to reach the desired demographic. Billboards have been historically labelled as “too expensive” as they’re stereotyped as only available for large corporate brands, however, that’s far from the truth as billboard advertising companies such as Airoutdoor have built a large panel of UK billboards accessible for small businesses. Furthermore, you could advertise your products on a motorway billboard to reach vacationing families, or in a crowded tube station to attract busy commuters. Ever noticed how many fast food outlets claim bus stops and phone booths just around the corner from their stores? They do so because they know that snagging a customer right then will guarantee a sale…
  • Point-of-sale ads – Point-of-sale ads often take the form of small posters, stands or leaflets in your premises or at the checkout. POS ads are useful for advertising promotions, offers and sales, and can help to turn passing trade into regular customers.

The design

Once you’ve decided where your print advertisements will be best implemented, it’s time to consider the design. Fashions have changed in the advertising world over the past few decades, and when it comes to generating your design it’s worth considering the current trends and fashions pertinent to your industry.

Designs can be very literal or they can be clever and persuasive – it’s up to you how best to sell your products and services through the use of imagery. Try to avoid imagery that could prove controversial or divisive, as the last thing you need is to alienate sections of your audience.

Similarly, the location of your print marketing efforts will help to determine the imagery you ought to use – if your billboard is designed to be seen from a speeding train, you’ll need to choose an arresting image that sells the product visually in a very short space of time.

The copy

Alongside the design of your print marketing efforts, the copy will play an important role in selling your products or services to passing individuals.

In most instances ‘short ‘n’ sweet’ needs to be your motto where copy is concerned, although magazine and newspaper ads will provide you with scope to elucidate further due to your audience’s reading habits.

Copy needs to be catchy, persuasive, informative and original – if this seems like a big ask, then let us assure you that it’s just as complex as it sounds! Copywriting is a rare and difficult skill, so if you’re looking to pen a truly effective line of text to accompany your visual concept, it’s best to bring in some expert help where possible.

It may sound obvious, but if you’re designing and penning and advert yourself, don’t forget to include easy contact details. If you’re directing people to your website, consider setting up a bespoke landing page on a short, memorable URL that will let you track your campaign’s success.

This very brief summary ought to give you an impression of how print marketing can work for you this year, but of course there’s more to the process than we’ve detailed here.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.