In this day and age, there is rarely any question that a business that wants to attract and grow an audience needs to be involved in online marketing. For some companies, especially newer startups, an online strategy is where their marketing plan begins and ends. However, for many types of businesses, there is still a time and place for print advertisements. Let’s discuss the different strengths of print versus digital advertising and how to determine what mix is right for your business.
Advantages of Print Advertising
People trust print more than digital. If you are a company that is trying to establish a reputation for reliability, longevity and quality rather than simply trying to make a quick buck, print advertisements help lend credibility to your brand. Print advertisements are seen as indicative of a more trustworthy business than internet based ads.
Print ads are more memorable. Browsing a magazine, newspaper or other print publication finds people in a more receptive state of mind. When someone is browsing the web, they tend to be searching for something and there are far more distractions. Pop-ups, auto-play videos and audio are all competing for the viewer’s attention. Readers of print media are less distracted and tend to be consuming the publication in a more leisurely fashion. They will be more likely to spend a few moments absorbing an ad that catches their eye.
It lasts longer. A magazine may be displayed in a doctor’s office waiting room for years. A catalog or programming guide may also be looked at by its owner many times over the course of months. Those ads have a better chance of imprinting themselves into someone’s memory than a fleeting digital ad. They may see your ad for gutter cleaning and not think much of it at the time, but then several months or even years later when they are searching for a gutter cleaning service, they will recognize your name and instinctively think of your service as being more trusted than others.
Advantages of Digital Advertising
You can get started on any budget. You can spend as little as a few dollars on a Facebook ad, or hundreds of thousands on a major Google Ads campaign.
Get fast results. You can try running three different ads that all have slightly different messaging or imagery or targeting different audiences and get immediate results within days showing you what worked best. And you can see increased sales right away.
It’s easy to track. It can be trickier to know whether an influx of calls are due to a print ad unless you ask every caller how they found you, or you use a different phone number for that ad. But with online ads, there are lots of easy ways to track exactly how much traffic is being generated by a given ad, and how many of those clicks converted to purchases.
It’s easy to gather information about your customers. You can use digital tracking to find out demographic information about your customers and encourage online sign-ups to start compiling a database of interested users.
You can target ads to very specific groups. This is a feature of online marketing that is impossible for print ads to beat. If you want to advertise to only 24 to 28 year olds who make over $75,000 per year and love to mountain climb and brew their own beer, you can narrow down your ads to reach those kind of niche groups. You can also target people who have recently searched for your product or service online. This is extremely powerful.
Print Ads are great for:
Big purchases. Any sale that involves a large investment that the customer will spend a lot of time researching can be a great fit for print ads. The bigger the investment, the more the customer needs to feel confidence in your reputation. Print ads help build that comfort with your brand.
Targeting a more mature audience and professionals. Trade magazines can be a great way to introduce your name and services to professionals in a particular industry. Travel magazines tend to reach upper class readers over 40. If you want to reach a discerning, mature audience, print ads can work well.
Creating brand recognition. Print ads are most effective when you’re not trying to drive immediate sales. They are great for familiarizing potential customers with your name and getting the word out about your company. Print ads are a longer term investment in building the status of your company over time, leading to consumer trust.
Digital ads are great for:
Quick sales and promotions. Having a blowout sale or one-time offer to attract new customers? Online ads work well for that.
Reaching people actively looking for what you sell. You can direct your ads to people who have recently searched for “gutter cleaning” or whatever your product or service may be.
Anything people tend to buy online. If you have a product or service that people are comfortable buying online and can be easily shipped or downloaded, digital ads are a no-brainer.
How to Plan Your Marketing Mix
Marketing consultants and advertising executives may try to convince you that they have some magical talent at instinctively knowing how to create just the right ads to rocket your business ahead of your
competition. But if they were completely truthful, they’d tell you that it’s generally more a matter of science than art. You simply need to use trial and error, track the results and continuously refine your methods and message based on what works.
Online advertisements offer a great opportunity to try different messages, platforms, and ad types to see what performs best without spending a lot of money. When you figure out a message that resonates, use that messaging in a print ad and just like with digital ads, try a few different publications, track the results and focus on what’s working.
That’s marketing in a nutshell. Try something, check the results, refine, try again. When you find something that returns gangbuster results in terms of sales, memberships, or whatever your conversion goal is, then take that ad and run with it!