Should You Advertise in Local Publications?
The advent of social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter have many small businesses abandoning traditional media, such as print advertising in favor of the web. But when it comes to these traditional advertising approaches, should freelance businesses jump ship just yet?
Online marketing is critical, don’t get me wrong. And it’s a lot cheaper in some cases than mailing postcards to everyone in your community or to every local business. But in the end, it depends on the kind of business you operate.
If you can provide services to people all over the world, then an online marketing campaign may be perfect for you. On the other hand, if you sell to local patrons only, then you may need to focus on local advertising methods. Keep in mind, most businesses will still benefit from both offline and online efforts; you may just need to focus more on one and less on the other.
Advertising in local publications takes the same scrutiny. Each business has to decide if paying for ad space within local magazines, radio stations, newspapers, phone books, and even your local chamber of commerce website is beneficial to them. Read through the information below to help guide your decision on whether or not to purchase local ad space.
The Virtue of Advertising Locally
While the Internet has significantly broadened advertising horizons, print media advertisements can be just as effective for small businesses. Rather than broadcasting to a wide, diverse audience, local publications focus narrowly on a small, specific target market. Of course, not every freelance business should advertise locally: it all depends on the type of business.
For example, for a web developer that primarily works with startups, advertising in local media probably won’t be worth the investment—since this business would typically advertise online to a nationwide or worldwide market. On the other hand, a freelance wedding photographer advertising in local newspapers (or local magazines) would attract nearby clients. For a locally focused freelancer, advertising through local print media is much more likely to pay off.
You can also consider, if your freelance business would benefit from some local advertising, even if a large portion of your current advertising is online.
Local Advertising: Doing It Right
So you’re a small business that offers a local service or products, and you want to advertise in local media. Great! But before you jump in, it’s important to weigh the costs and benefits of such advertising. Like any form of advertising, there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way, so take a couple of things into consideration before you make the plunge:
1. Evaluate Your Business
Before you even begin choosing a medium for you advertisement, examine your unique business model and decide what you want your ad to convey. Depending on whether your freelance business focuses on print design services, photography, or writing your local advertising will look drastically different.
As a photographer are you advertising your family portrait package rates to new customers? As a print designer, are you looking to build identites for local businesses or help them with their ad campaigns? Pinning down a specific goal will help you formulate an effective advertisement and channel to run the ad through. Whether you create one on your own, or work with a graphic designer, having a clear vision and message will help you choose the right medium for your advertisement.
2. Choose Your Medium
Explore the various advertising media in your area, accounting for your freelance business’s budget. Take newspapers, for example. Depending on the size of your community, circulation rates and, therefore, advertising price rates will vary—a smaller circulation will probably mean less expensive advertising costs. On the other hand, a larger circulation might mean a more extensive newspaper with more specific sections—meaning that you might find the perfect place for your ad.
Magazine advertising is often more expensive, but can be well worth the investment. Find out if your community or region has a local interest magazine tailored to your small business, like a photography showcase. Honing in on your precise target market will make your advertisement even more effective.
And don’t forget that you can always put out door hangers, mail postcards, or hand out flyers. Don’t feel locked into advertising publications only. In fact, you can even launch your own publication or local newsletter. Also, consider targeting the businesses in your area with these ads, rather than the general public, if that fits your freelance business structure better.
Tailoring Your Ads to a Local Market
Here’s the good news for small businesses: to be competitive, you don’t have to “get big or get out.” Tailoring your company’s advertisements to your local audience can make you a winning business and a strong player in your community, especially if you are able to continually create exposure for yourself in places that a local audience will be sure to notice you.