Advertising: Should You Do It (and Why)?
That question comes up quite a lot in our conversations with vendors in this industry. It’s a relatively new question. I remember a day when people were more likely asking, “can we afford to advertise … can we afford not to advertise?” Easy enough to answer.
That was the heyday of publishing, for sure, but the landscape has changed, and so have perceptions.
So, if you’re one of those who already advertises and has a consistent program going, then this blog isn’t for you. This blog is for those who aren’t sure or who are getting mixed signals from their management teams. The digital age seems to have ushered in a mindset of uncertainty and confusion about how to promote. Suddenly a lot of people think advertising isn’t worth the money. In fact, I’ve heard people say that advertising is a waste of money. And I think that this assessment is based on two things: 1) a misconception about what advertising is and the inability to measure the results of it, and 2) wishful thinking that with digital we can reach our target audience for free.
In a previous post, I talked about earned, owned, and paid media. Advertising is the paid media. That is, you pay someone to broadcast/distribute your message. You have control over the message – where, when, and how often it appears, and exactly what it says and what form it takes. Sometimes it looks like a page in a magazine, sometimes like a banner on top of a digital newsletter. But sometimes it’s an email blast to the subscribers of the magazine. Sometimes it’s the speaking slot you got because you sponsored a conference. Sometimes it’s a webinar you put on with a publication that's delivering its subscribers as the attendees. It’s everything you pay to have your name attached to, including the sign on your building.
You might say that you think PR is better because editorial is more credible than advertising. Maybe so, but even with a crack team of PR pros working round-the-clock, you won’t get enough coverage to be everywhere all the time. With advertising — or a combination of ads and PR — you can. And it doesn’t have to be traditional ads. It can be “paid content” articles (we used to call these advertorials) and other things listed above.
You might think that doing direct blasts out to your house list two or three times a month is going to keep you on the radar … and it will, but generally only with the people you already know. Not a bad thing, but aren’t you trying to find new customers? And you can have …
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