The only reasonable price to pay for print ads

If you measure the amount of business you’ve garnered from each type of print ad you’ve run (in newspapers, magazines, Yellow Pages, posters, etc.), you probably figured out they are not paying off. More disappointing is they’ll continue to do worse as time goes on.

This is for two reasons:
1. Fewer people subscribe to print media or use Yellow Page books.
2. People who receive print editions are often not looking for what you offer, but you’re still paying for them to see your ads. (This is the same problem with direct mail.)

While you shift your marketing focus to the Internet (something you should have already started, should not wait to do if you haven’t, and should do more of if you have), you may feel print ads could pay off if they weren’t so expensive. This is possible, though unlikely.

Oddly, publishers have increased rates slightly over the past decade, even though their circulation has shrunk and return-on-investment (yours) for print ads has fallen drastically. Their business model is broken, but that doesn’t mean your company should suffer.

The key is to pay a reasonable price for those ads. What’s reasonable? “Remnant rates”. These are the heavily discounted rates that are usually only available when another advertiser has pulled out at the last minute. Publishers scramble to put something in the vacated space in time for the issue to go to press. They may quickly call their best customers and offer the space at extremely low rates. After all, some money is better than none, and they’d rather have an advertiser than put their own “house ads” in.

So the magic question is: How steep is that discount? The answer is 80% – 90% off regular rates. Sadly, most publications will offer 20% to 30% discounts. These are often the same as the best discounts they’d offer a first time advertiser. In reality, you probably can’t make money running an ad without an 80% discount, and therefore you shouldn’t. If they don’t agree to take your ad at this discount level, walk away.

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