The reasons to choose newspapers are numerous. It's impossible for print media to compete with electronic media in many areas, but publishers have learned to cope. Now they carry more in-depth news and special interest sections with regular features on home fashions and living. As a result, readership and circulation are good, especially among primary purchasers of interior products, those with above average incomes and educations.
Newspaper ads can generate excellent results, assuming your offer is interesting and properly presented. Want another distinct advantage to newspaper advertising? Believability. In consumer surveys, the reliability of newspaper reports outscores all other media by a large margin.
Newspaper advertising is not all good news. You pay for a lot of wasted circulation, i.e. those readers who aren't interested in what you have to sell along with those who won't even notice your ads. Too, your ads will have much competition, not only from other related businesses, but also from all other types of retail firms. (The secret of readership is to have your ads stand out from the crowd.)
SELECTION IS NECESSARY
You'll find plenty of news publications competing for your advertising dollars. In large metropolitan areas you may have several big circulation dailies, both city and suburban. Add to that the numerous area shopping guides-some with news, most made up entirely of classified and display or larger space ads. These "shoppers" are mailed or distributed free of charge to every household in a limited area. You also will be solicited by salespeople from a wide assortment of specialty publications directed to special interest groups.
How can you sort through the maze of potential publications (and other kinds of media, too) for your ads? There are ways. Start with your market area. Where are your best prospects located? Then, work only with representatives of those papers which are circulated in your market. Each media representative can give you a media kit with all kinds of statistics: circulation, reader demographics (ages, income and other audience facts) plus prices and other helpful statistics.
All of the large circulation dailies will have their readership verified on a regular basis by a national audit firm, the Audit Bureau of Circulation. Smaller publications may not be audited, but usually will have a notarized statement verifying their figures.
Before deciding, make your own market survey about the publications you have in mind. Check customers and other stores in your area. Maybe even run similar ads in competing publications. Include some kind of coupon or offer so you can measure which publication brings in the best results.
CHECK QUALITY AND COSTS
When comparing media, you should consider what's in the paper, too. Does it carry features or sections on home interiors and decoration? Celebrity and scandal tabloids may attract large numbers of readers, but will those readers be a part of the audience you want to reach? Probably not. Also look at the other advertisers for an idea as to the readership makeup. The quality look of a paper can be fairly obvious, even among shopping guides.
Finally, how much will your ad insertions cost? Prices will vary widely. Charges are based on a per line or column inch rate (14 lines per inch). The basic cost for a one-time ad, regardless of size, is called the open rate. You will receive discounts from this rate depending on the number of ads and the total space purchased.
Also, you can have your ads run only in your market area zone at less cost. Your important cost per reader rate then becomes much more attractive.
Ask your media rep about the newspaper's production charges to plan and prepare your ads. Most, except the smallest papers, offer this creative service at reduced costs to you.
Basic ad rates also are quoted as run of press, which means the ad may appear anywhere in the paper. In other words, you might not get the exact placement that you want for your ad. Any publication will try to accommodate your request for specific placement of your ads. However, one of your competitors might want an ad placed in the same section or location. Because of this competition, many newspapers, especially large circulation dailies, add a premium charge for space in best-read areas.
In marketing interior fashions you already know the majority of your customers are women and homemakers with above-average incomes. The main news pages, women's fashions, home and living sections all receive above average women's readership. A small extra charge for premium placement in a special area may be very worthwhile.
REPETITION BUILDS RECOGNITION
Newspapers receive the lion's share of retailers advertising because they've traditionally produced good sales results. But no matter which paper you select, no matter how effective your ads, you can't build long-range impact unless you give your ads a chance to work.
Advertising results build upon advertising. Every successful advertiser knows repetition brings recognition. You may tire of your ads. So may your staff and customers. That doesn't mean the ads have stopped selling for you. Give your ads and the newspaper selected a fair trial. A good ad run on a consistent basis can be the final link you need for sales and business success.
John J. Lichty is a consultant and senior editor for Draperies & Window Coverings magazine. He has more than 30 years experience in the planning and administration of various consumer, trade and retail advertising programs. Editor's Note: The following is the fifth installment in a series of articles covering the basics for retail advertising with an emphasis on the needs of home fashion retailers. The preceding four articles were: "Advertising by the Numbers," August 1998; "Step-by-step Advertising," October 1998; "Where to Advertise," January 1999; and "Direct Mail Means Sales," February 1999. This article examines the home fashions retailer's No. 1 advertising medium.
The Number One Medium For Home Fashion Advertisers
• Low cost per reader
• Flexible ad units
• Space to "show and tell"
• Special interest sections
• Creative and production assistance, as needed
• Targeted markets
• Good primary market readership
•In-depth features with related editorial
•Possible publicity support
• Wasted circulation
• Ad clutter
• Look-alike ads
•Short-life, except for special sections and TV guides
• Lots of competition