Thursday, January 24, 2008

Guerilla Marketing Time Machine: Magazines

Note: We are in a series examining "Old School" marketing techniques to see if they still have oomph. Jay Conrad Levinson's 1993 edition of Guerilla Marketing is our reference book.


From Chapter 17 of Guerrilla Marketing:
"A properly produced magazine ad, preferably of the full-page variety, gives a small business more credibility than any other mass marketing medium."

That's quite a bold statement. But it also holds a lot of validity. Levinson further explains his strategy:

"Consumer confidence will not necessarily be gained from one exposure to
your magazine ad. But if you run the ad one time, you can use the reprints
of that ad forever."
Levinson's suggested strategy was to run a single regional ad in only a single issue of a national magazine such as Time. Now that's a pretty huge suggestion given that a full page ad in a Time can cost around $30,000. That's a lot of money, especially in the guerrilla marketing jungle. Why would you do this?

Magazines have evolved through technology and necessity. To combat declining national advertising revenue, the top magazines now print many different regional editions and even local editions for major metropolitan areas.

For example, Reader's Digest, America's largest circulation magazine (not counting AARP's mag) offers 10 regional editions and 10 major market editions. A full-page color ad in the national edition would run you $251,000. However, a full page color ad in the southern regional edition is just $87,000 and only $16,000 in the Dallas/Ft. Worth edition.

The key is the use of reprints to establish credibility. Even if you spend $16,000 instead of $251,000 to be in Reader's Digest, you still get to say on your reprint: "As seen in Reader's Digest." And that was Levinson's point on credibility.

Using Reprints
Reprints of your ad could then be distributed as newspaper inserts, direct mail pieces, or large posters in your store window.

I have to say this idea somewhat intrigues me. But I don't believe you need to go that far to establish credibility.

From time to time we have recommended local magazine ads for some of our clients. One of the primary reasons for doing so was credibility. Yes, we are an increasingly online society. And yes, marketers love to taught the new media. But the old media still maintains a credibility edge according to this survey from Nielsen.

Local Magazines
In Waco, we have two high-quality, widely-distributed community magazines, including the Wacoan. It has a polished presentation and the ads well-constructed. Unfortunately, you can't see the magazine online yet (hint, hint to publishers Robert & Michelle, who live about a block away from me).

If you have a magazine of this type in your community, you should consider using it for credibility. In fact many people pick up our Wacoan magazine just to look at the ads. Your primary considerations are presentation, distribution and ad cost.

How To Use Magazines
To use magazines, I suggest you use a tactic from new media and integrate it into your old media magazine ad. Advertise in a local magazine, but don't advertise. What I'm saying is give something of value instead of an advertisement.

I encourage you to listen to episode #4 of my Power to the Small Business podcast with guest Steven Van Yoder. We talk about how it's time to stop trying to sell stuff and start giving people something of value. This is the tactic that establishes credibility: it's what I call cultivating your customer.

Take a look at your local newspaper or magazine today and read the ads. You will see that the two primary uses of these ads are selling or branding. Odds are, you will not see one single ad that is providing useful information that makes the reader better. And that's good for you.

Put together an ad that provides something of value to your customer: helpful tips, timely product news, industry insight. Or you can reprint your full page ad "as seen in Reader's Digest."

Guerrilla Tactic?
Whether or not you want to drop 16 grand on Reader's Digest to test Levinson's theory is up to you. But if you use local magazine advertising, do it like a guerrilla marketer and not like everyone else.

Have you been a local guerrilla marketer lately?

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