I get asked a lot whether or not you should pay for an advert in a national magazine. This is usually after you have been phoned by a magazine with a “once in a lifetime”, “you must decide today” offer the day before said magazine goes to print. With this in mind, here are some tips to consider if you ware thinking of paying to advertise.

What to consider before you pay to advertise

Firstly, a disclaimer. I am not here to say you should or should not advertise – this is wholly up to you. But whatever you choose, make sure you make the decision from an informed place rather than a rushed place such as the example above.

I also want to remind you that magazines need people to advertise in order to survive. As does commercial radio and TV. I sometimes hear people complaining about getting calls to advertise, but it is important to remember that the day all ads dry up is the day that the publication goes out of business. I love reading print magazines and hope that they continue – but without revenue coming in they won’t.

Advertising Tip 1: Do your research

It is important to only advertise in publications that your ideal customer is reading rather than one that you aspire to be in. If your customer is a creative millennial they won’t be reading something aimed at older women such as Prima so you should not waste your money advertising there as it is the wrong place. Don’t just take up the best deal offered to you without considering if your ideal customer is buying it. That is why advertising on social media is great as you can target your perfect demographics (age, likes, location, marital status etc) which you cannot do for print.

Advertising Tip 2: Set a budget

For 2019, decide how much you are prepared to pay each month for advertising. It doesn’t matter if it is £20 or £200, just decide what it is. That way, when a magazine calls you clearly know if you can afford it (if your ideal customer reads it of course). You can advertise for as little as a fiver on Facebook so remember that no budget is too small.

Advertising Tip 3: Consider all options

There are many places you can advertise. Starting with the cheapest: the most cost effective is Facebook and Instagram where you can boost for a fiver. Blogs and online platforms are next, where you can pay between £50 and £500. Local papers and What’s On sites are also a good option but please consider tip 4 before you commit. I am not sure how many people read local papers any more so be careful advertising here. Then there are national magazines and papers but this is not cheap! ( a one pager in Grazia is about £15K!)

It is worth remembering more traditional and old school ways to advertise too. If you run a local business, paying for a poster in your local cafe may be a great idea to be seen and won’t cost much – maybe a few quid.

Advertising Tip 4: Ask for their stats

Be demanding of those advertising managers that call you. Ask them for the demographics of their readers – find out who they are then cross reference with who your ideal customers is. I would also ask for other testimonials from other advertisers, and then their website stats such as how many people visit per day, what is their bounce rate like. Ask for as much information as possible and if they cannot give it, do not pass with your money.

If someone asks me to advertise, the first thing I ask is for them to send me their Media Pack with all their stats in.

Advertising Tip 5: Should you negotiate?

Large companies have a Rate Card – which is the amount they ideally want for the advert. To be honest I feel like it is a mythical thing as I never am offered ad space at this figure. I personally would only negotiate with large companies as I know these are the ones that call me on the last day offering me a great deal.

I would never negotiate with an independent. Remember they need this ad spend to survive – so if I cannot afford it, I will either save up or use my money elsewhere.

Advertising Tip 6: Getting a return on investment (ROI)

It is important to know if your ad is successful and the best way to do this is to add an offer onto the advert. When advertising my wedding shows I add an offer onto the design so I can actually see how this coverts to paying customers. However it is worth remembering that people need many touch points to buy from you, so you may not get a return straight away.

Advertising Tip 7: Consider your alternatives

Consider advertorials and sponsored posts. An advertorial is a paid for article in a magazine that looks to the untrained eye as it was written by the magazine. For example, a toothpaste company may pay for a two page feature half way through the magazine all about teeth whitening with a small image of their product at the bottom. In the corner it should clearly say Advertorial or Promotion to show that it is paid for. Most readers miss this/don’t realise so it may be a better way to be seen.

You can do the same with a blog – write a sponsored post for them. Every blog has different rules about this but it can be a great way to be seen as it is shared to their social media the same as all their usual blog posts.

However the best way to get in a magazine is an editorial which is written by the publication and is free. This will get you the best traction – and this of course is PR.  

I recently did a Facebook Live about this so in case I missed anything – here it is! (Warning, my dog joins in the video!)