Is Print Media Dead? Why Small Business Owners Should Take a Second LookNovember 11, 2012 | By: Sean Murray
Many small business owners may have thrown out the newspaper with the bath water when it comes to using print media as a marketing and promotion channel for their small business. Number one, most of us are pretty much convinced that print media is dead. Major newspapers that have been around for eons are dead or dying. Print magazines are failing or subscriptions are woefully down. On top of that there are literally hundreds of thousands of online social media specialists and bloggers out there tooting the digital horn not as “the way of the future” – but telling us that the future is now. Any small business owner out there not engaging in social media marketing isn’t only missing the boat, they’re on a sinking ship.
However, small business owners might want to take a second, and much closer, look at whether or not investing in print media still represents an opportunity to achieve a high rate of return for their particular business.
Print Media Can Hit Your Target
The most obvious example is a small local business owner. A business owner who serves a local community with distinct boundaries is targeting consumers and clients within that local jurisdiction. That local community may be at the neighborhood, small town, or even large municipal area. What is common to all local businesses is that oftentimes print media exists that provides a relatively low cost vehicle to promote their small business.
For example, small business owners in small towns are likely to get a pretty big bang for their buck promoting their business in their local small town newspaper. Many of these small town papers provide what could be classified as “hard journalism” reporting on local political and other town issues such as city budget and the like. However, a major focus in small town newspapers tends to be human interest articles that attract local readers. In turn, those articles attract specific types of readers.
For instance, often there will be a column dedicated to subjects such as gardening, cooking, local events, the environmental, the arts, books, and so on. Because the paper is so small, many local newspapers provide a greater opportunity to locate your ad near copy that relates to your small business, or that is read by people you’ve targeted as your most optimal customers or clients. If you’re a local hardware store, an ad located near the gardening article can be very effective. If you’re a local podiatrist or retail store selling running shoes, an ad near an article about a local 10K is a great opportunity. Most neighborhood and municipal newspapers offer this type or similar opportunities for ad placement.
Loyalty and Numbers Matter
Regarding reach of your small businesses’ ad, local print media can be a better option than promoting your local small business online. For one, many of these publications already have a very loyal readership. Any small business owner with even a modicum of experience creating an online presence can appreciate just how much effort, time, and (yes) money goes into creating a strong, loyal, and large following online. While social media is low cost, it isn’t “no cost.” Even if you’re not outsourcing social media activities (i.e. content creation, posting, replying, etc.) – you are paying a huge premium in time.
Equally important is that print advertising in many ways isn’t as limited as social media. You can get a whole lot more information in an ad in your local newspaper than an online banner ad. Additionally, advertising in your printed local publication can actually create more credibility for your small business. Consumers understand that print advertising comes at a cost and tend to assign credibility to businesses using print advertising. Consumers are savvy and know online banner ads can come pretty cheap – a print ad can effectively communicate your small business is both established and reliable.
Ironically, we’re going to provide you with the best argument for taking a second look at promoting and marketing your small business using print media with an online example. On their “About” page here is how one community paper describes themselves:
The College Park Community Paper has been in circulation since 1989. We are a monthly, full color, family friendly newspaper delivering the good news happening in College Park each month. The paper is delivered free of charge by mail to over 7,000 homes and businesses in the 32804 zip code which includes College Park and the Country Club of Orlando. Additional distribution is provided throughout the community and commercial district through the use of newspaper stands and counter top display. Additional exposure is garnered through our website which includes additional material not shown in the print edition.
You’ll also want to take a look at their ad rates here, but we use them as an example for quite another reason: they provide an excellent example of a small business integrating both on and offline channels to promote their small business, which can be not only a balanced approach, but an approach that provides the biggest bang for your buck.
– Merchant Processing Resource
Sean Murray is the founder of deBanked, an 11-year veteran of the merchant cash advance industry, a casual Lending Club and Prosper note investor, the co-founder of Daily Funder, an alternative lending speaker, consultant, writer, and enthusiast. Connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on twitter.