A “Vogue” approach…Things to consider for magazine advertising

Sorry for the Madonna reference. I couldn’t resist.

Because I work as an art director for a local retailer, I must get hundreds of calls a season, looking for an appointment to discuss their newest magazine publication. I figured this information would be a helpful when considering  your advertising schedule. When you’re deciding to enter the world of magazine advertising, there are a couple of things you have to consider before you submit ad direction or camera-ready layouts.

• The shelf-life.

• The circulation or amount of possible viewers that are going to be exposed to your ad.

• Delivery system – distribution.

• The amount of issues per year.

Unlike newspaper advertising where advertisements could be seen daily, weekly or bi-weekly, magazines are usually a monthly  or bi-monthly publication. When considering your content, consider the time element on your sales offers. Putting coupons into a magazine is a waste of time if the response time is only a week. Chances are, potential readers don’t read the magazine for the first couple of days and the response time is cut short. Coupons have their place but, magazines aren’t it. Your “coupon” market can usually be found search the sunday paper not a magazine unless it’s advertised elsewhere.

Keep your content informative, introducing new product or talking about current happenings occurring for your business. Talk about future events that will be happening in the next 2 months, which touches upon the other element of consideration, shelf-life.

Shelf-life refers to the life of the magazine to remain on the “coffee table”. Some magazines, especially technical magazines, can live on a shelf for years because it serves as a reference to the reader. Other magazines, certain entertainment and current events publications, usually stick around for a couple of months and then, hopefully tossed in recycling bin. Do your research. Look at what and where your competition is advertising. Also, consider you target market’s interests: if your market is 35-45, male stock traders, consider a time sensitive publication because they are the type of individual who need information in the now OR consider the technical publication aimed toward your “stock trader’s” interest such as travel or other “off-job” interests.

The delivery system is another consideration. Some publications are newsstand issues, which is issues available at the store for readers to purchase by choice. Another is subscription readers, which is a publication that readers choose to subscribe to – in some instances, this also affects the response time to offer, just something else to consider. These subscribers are loyal readers who will either hang onto, or collect, the issues longer or are saving money by purchasing the next year’s at a discounted price. These are something you may want to consider and keep in mind when you’re planning your advertising schedule.

Another way to acquire a magazine is direct mail. Some newspapers, food stores and retailers and advertorial-type publishers choose to direct mail their magazines to target markets who spend a certain amount yearly, own homes within a certain price range or even certain zip codes where property values are of a certain price range.  Readers did not choose, in some cases, to receive this publication. This is a risky situation because either the reader will enjoy the magazine and read it cover to cover or will throw it into the recycling bin irritated that junk mail had invaded their home once again. You may want to investigate further when working with these type of publishing companies as to where they are acquiring their mailing lists and what areas are they reaching as well as they’re repeat readership and overall editorial content – does it have any interesting stories or is it other companies just hocking their stuff.

Lastly, you also have to consider what the rate of publishing. Does it come out monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly. This could also affect what your ad rate is and how many people will see your ad. This will also effect what you advertise: No sense advertising Christmas Trees in the winter edition which publishes in January or swimsuits in the summer issue which publishes in July (I usually have my suit picked out by May). Not to say that these publications aren’t valid, they’re great on the shelf life aspect but, just keep in mind what your business advertising needs are when electing to go this route.

When you’re approached to run in a magazine, ask for a sample. Get the rate sheet (price and size information, distribution schedule, distribution map and ask questions. Call some of the advertisers in the magazine sample and get their input. Consider your advertising budget, magazine advertising is expensive so if your budget can’t handle more than one run, wait until you can. Consistency is key to success, usually your ad will be more successful if it is seen more often. I will do a post on designing an effective magazine ad in a future post but you may want to do your research on what was posted here first.

Any questions, comments? Feel free to contact me either by leaving a post below or my company’s fan page: N2 Design Services, on facebook.