How to Sell Print Advertising: New Evidence of Print ROI

I learned most of what I know about business from reading newspapers and magazines and integrating what I read with my experience.  I often read things that I wasn’t interested in at first.  But the editors presented the material, or the advertisers presented an ad, that attracted my attention.

Even today, in the fast-moving world of technology-driven change, and despite the fact that I spend many days at my desk, online, consuming all manner of internet content, I rely on print to give me the big picture, and to show me new things I need to know about. The experience of browsing through a magazine or newspaper exposes me to far more new ideas and products than the rifle-shot, drill-down, short attention span, experience of consuming content online. So it was refreshing when I learned about new research supporting the value, and indeed the cost effectiveness of print.

I have been training advertising sales people to sell print advertising for almost 20 years.  I teach ad-sales people to start by helping ad-buyers clarify their needs before the sales people get to selling the features of their print advertising services.  Advertisers must build awareness of need and desire for a solution, and trust in their company and brand, among their target audience, before they can successfully trigger a sale.  If the ad-buyers properly understand demand building, then they can be sold print.

Digital content environments are powerful, but known for short attention spans and difficulty introducing advertising for unknown brands and products.  The digital content user has so much control they can even block banners.  So in digital environments it is difficult to build interest (where none existed) and brand trust.  But if ad-buyers don’t understand the need for demand building, no price is low enough to entice them to buy print.

I have never trained sales people to focus on price when selling print, but rather on effectiveness.  So it was a nice surprise when I read of new research presented at a FIPP (Federation of International Periodical Publishers) conference recently demonstrating that magazines are more cost-effective that other media in the Netherlands.

Marius Colete Research at PPA of UKMarius Cloete, head of research at Professional Publishers Association in the UK, explained the methodology behind the study conducted by GFK MRI and the goal of demonstrating how magazines work in the context of all other media, and pointed out that  “Magazines don’t have the issue of ad avoidance… People happily read ads alongside content in magazines, and are equally likely to remember ads and editorial” said Cloete.

While it’s true that it is easiest for an advertiser to focus on the last click, the biggest value a medium can provide to an advertiser is the opportunity to begin the process of winning a new customer.  That happens far upstream from the last click, and it happens very cost-effectively in print environments because of their superior ability to deliver a rich and deeply informative advertising message to a prospective customer who isn’t already interested.


About Daniel M. Ambrose

Ambrose, launched, corp. in 1994 to provide sophisticated strategy consulting and advertising sales training to advertising-driven media clients in the U.S. and abroad. Starting with the founding of and iVillage in 1995, has worked with hundreds of clients to help accelerate advertising revenue growth.