Is Print Advertising Still Relevant Now that We Have Social Media Marketing?

Q:  Is print still relevant now that we have social media marketing? 

A:  Yes. Yes. Yes!  Today we’re answering the ever present question “Is print still relevant now that we have social media marketing?” because this question is sent to our sales team nearly weekly these days.  And for good reason.  Non-marketers like business owners, sales teams, and regular folk just trying to do their job are legitimately confused, unsure of where to spend their marketing dollars and mostly where to invest their marketing TIME to garner the biggest return.  We get it.

I ask you this….  In the beginning we all advertised in the newspaper.  So, historically speaking, in 1901 did radio advertising kill newspaper advertising?  In 1927 did TV advertising kill radio advertising?  In 1990 did internet advertising kill TV and radio advertising?   The answer is simply no because one media does not replace another – they work together.

Advertising Plan Advice

Let’s just pause and thing about this… Take online internet companies like autotrader.com, wayfair.com, eharmony.com – these are the companies we see advertising OFFLINE with TV ads and magazine ads to get people to GO ONLINE and sign up for their services.  Amazing right?  I digress.

But, before we can say anything about social media, let’s talk about internet as a whole.

Just because the internet exists, doesn’t mean that everything else is extinct.  It just works different now.  In the past offline ads drove people to directly call your company. Now offline advertising drives internet search so that a consumer (who is more educated than before) can research you and due their own due diligence before they ever decide to call you.  They don’t want to be influenced or sold by you, they want to decide for themselves.  That research generates a transaction – a click, a like, an email, phone call or in person visit to either your business, website or social medias.

Truly, your social media channels could be considered to be your receptionist or publicist, just like your website is.  Your website and your social media are your greeters.

Now, you can actually put those greeters to work for you to generate sales too.  Social media advertising is a passive type of advertising.  It works very similar to magazine advertising in that instead of waiting for the consumer to search for you (like you have to do for search), you can put your company’s message in front of your ideal consumer by plopping an ad right in their view.  In print it’s an ad place in a magazine that a reader sees on the page, on social media it’s an ad that shows in up in their regular feed.  Print ads bring your business to your potential customer when they are offline.  Social media advertising (and online banners ads too) bring your business to your potential customer when they are online.

They work together to reach the customer wherever they are so don’t make assumptions about how your customer spends their time consuming content by choosing only one.  

Experts will argue that you can get a much more targeted ad in social media because you can narrow down the demographic by location, age, and interests but I will argue that you can also narrow down your target demographic in print by choosing the right publication that reaches the specific demographic you are trying to influence. Your choice is very important.  If you are an Atlanta wedding DJ and you place an ad in an Atlanta newspaper, it’s not going to deliver the same results as if you placed in ad in an Atlanta wedding magazine whose only reader is a bride actively planning their wedding in Atlanta.

But if you think you still get better targeting with social media advertising, I’ll also say this:  People are smart and they are wising up to what’s an ad in their social media feed and what’s not.  They are trained to scan by your ad faster than you thought possible. Case in point – do you ever find yourself actually clicking on an online banner ad? Rarely, (if ever!) right?  Even though web banner ads have an excellent tracking ability, the percent of people who actually click on them is less than .17%.  That doesn’t mean they don’t work – it means that they actually work more like offline ads do.  They subconsciously make an impression on the reader to be recalled at a later time or inspire search for further evaluation.

In the case of niche magazines, people are actually BUYING these products.  They are not being fed the ads involuntarily in the magazine, but rather they are choosing to spend their money on that specific topic – be it fishing, weddings, sewing, parenting – they want information on this topic whether its in editorial or ad form. Whereas on social media, they have zero control on what gets fed in their new stream.

The moral of the story = BALANCE.

Marketing is more complex than it ever has been. No longer do we work in a society where there are three ways you can promote your company.   In addition to traditional advertising like TV, radio, billboards, newspapers and magazines we now have niche magazines, niche blogs, our very own social media platforms, social media influencers, organic search, paid search, remarketing, Facebook advertising, email blasts, trade shows, and direct mail.

Determine a budget and distribute those funds evenly across the board to very specific medias that are reaching your target demographic.  Period.  An unbalanced advertising plan will garner you the same results as an unbalanced diet.  Poor health.

Let’s Recap the talking points…

  • One media does not replace another – they work together so you should use multiple media platforms to make your advertising plan work
  • Offline advertising (tv, magazines, radio billboards, etc) drive internet search which then leads to a transaction
  • Niche magazine deliver an opt-in reader
  • Balanced advertising outreach is the only guaranteed outreach for success
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