Sometimes the simplest ideas are revolutionary.

ripon-revolutionWe created a campaign to help marketers think more broadly about reaching prospects. In the age of social media, many forget that integration of multiple channels wields more sticking power than a more narrow focus.

Promotional campaign for Ripon Printers: print and digital ads, direct mail, white paper

Does Print Advertising Still Work?


Don’t get me wrong. I use web-based media everyday. Some of it I enjoy. Some of it I find highly useful in both my business and personal life. I also advise my customers to use it as part of their media plan, and several of them are printers. So this is not a rant against non-traditional media by any means.

At the same time, many companies seem to be over compensating in their move toward electronic media. Granted it has some nice features like being relatively inexpensive, very fast and easily tracked. Everyone loves to walk into their supervisor’s office and point to clickthroughs, landing page downloads and all the other neat things you learn from an online campaign.

But keep in mind that a Parks Associates study reported by MarketingProfs found that 21 percent of Americans had never visited a website, sent an email or used a search engine. And if you are an international company, more than 40 percent of the populations of highly developed countries like France, Belgium and Austria never use the Internet. Even with high connectivity rates in nations like Japan and Taiwan, the numbers escalate to an incredible 85 percent in Asia.

Using Online Media Exclusively Can Shortchange Results

Online media is not necessarily a “be all, end all” solution for reasons that go beyond connectivity? Even among people who do use the Internet, print may actually perform better than online alternatives for certain objectives? Well, let’s ease into this for those who are diehard online media advocates.

First of all, there is a recent Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) study indicating that the combination of print magazine advertising with online advertising at the publisher’s website is the best performing media blend available. This supports a number of previous studies showing that marketing campaigns having the greatest impact on the purchasing decision use a synergistic media combination.

Data Support Print

In fact, data indicate that throughout the purchase funnel, magazines are the most consistent performers versus other media studied. Across an aggregate of 20 studies, magazines produced a positive result in more stages of the purchase funnel, and in more ad campaigns, than TV or online. Check out these findings.

Aggregate Trends Across the Purchase Funnel

Total Brand Awareness Brand Familiarity Brand Imagery Purchase Intent
Magazines 78% 93% 82% 80%
TV 69% 69% 68% 57%
Online 56% 67% 57% 26%
Percentage of 20 Studies in Which Overall Purchase Metrics Were Positively Influenced by Medium
Source: Magazine Publishers of America study conducted by Marketing Evolution

Particularly noteworthy was that across the five advertising categories studied, magazines ranked first in influencing purchase intent in all but electronics where it came in a close second to television.

Purchase Intent Lift by Category

Magazines Television Online
Automotive +5% +3% +2%
Entertainment +6% +1% +4%
Electronics +3% +4% 0%
General +4% +1% +1%
Pharmaceuticals +3% +2% 0%
Source: Magazine Publishers of America study conducted by Marketing Evolution

Key findings from the research confirm that:

  • For brand familiarity and purchase intent, magazines generate a superior cost per impact (CPI) than either TV or online.
  • For brand awareness TV leads in cost efficiency, and the efficiency of magazines is a close second to that of TV.
  • Magazines most consistently generated a favorable ROI throughout the purchase funnel, followed by TV.
  • While each category that Marketing Evolution examined (auto, entertainment, electronics, and pharmaceuticals) showed a unique profile, the overall pattern held across the individual categories.

What This Means to You

Unless you’ve completely put blinders on to anything but online media, this should trigger a call to action. If you believe in the value of a media mix and have a true commitment to maximizing ROI, then it’s time to take a hard look at your plan. Chances are you’ll find print advertising under-represented, to say nothing of under-appreciated. The potential ROI gains you’ll receive from adding print advertising are very likely greater than any you’ll receive from repeating ads in other media.

By Larry Bauer

Want Expert Advice?

MondoVox Creative Group can help you develop a winning media strategy as well as create winning ad campaigns from concept through creative execution. For more information, email Julia Moran Martz.

You can connect with Julia Moran Martz on LinkedIn. Or follow her on Twitter.

Do’s and Don’ts for Effective Print Advertising.

honeyMooners-250You’d think we’d know a lot about print advertising at this point. It’s not exactly a new medium after all. But there seems to be a strong tendency to make the same mistakes over and over, and then wonder why the campaign didn’t work. Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts to help make your print ads more successful.


  • Clarify your audience—knowing whom you’re trying to reach is the ultra-crucial first step.
  • Hire a professional to develop a media plan—wrong publications, wrong timing, wrong frequency, wrong mix can easily doom the best ad campaign.
  • Decide what you’re selling before creating an ad.
  • Sell benefits, not features in a product or service ad—focus on the top two or three.
  • Show your product or service in action—incorporate people.
  • Consider premium positions to increase readership and recall.
  • Learn from other advertising campaigns—including your competitors.
  • Write killer headlines that speak to benefits—five times more people read a headline than body copy.
  • Communicate the brand and a positive message.
  • Incorporate high-impact visuals and easy-to-read typefaces.
  • Remember that you are not the buyer—what matters is whether your campaign works, not whether you like it.
  • Include URLs to drive website traffic—a study shows the biggest lifts in women’s service (198%), home (203%), and travel (286%) categories vs. ads with no URL.
  • Track and test, track and test—improve tracking with coupons, new VOIP services, special pricing, landing pages, subscriber surveys, tip-ins, etc.


  • Underestimate the power of frequency—it’s a critical campaign success factor.
  • Forget to include a strong direct response component to generate leads.
  • Fail to hook readers quickly—the average reader glances at a print ad for two seconds with 1.5 devoted to the visual.
  • Sacrifice brand visibility for “creativity”—ideally integrate the brand with the visual.
  • Choose visuals that generate negative, unintended associations.
  • Make people work hard to connect your visuals with your product and brand.
  • Wander from your key points.
  • Load your ad with meaningless platitudes—“we provide quality service,” etc.
  • Forget that a direct response ad needs more copy to explain a product or service.
  • Choose an inappropriate format for your message—consider spreads, inserts and advertorials if you need more space.
  • Neglect to advance the reader to the next step.
  • Limit your advertising to just print or any other single medium—it’s very much a multi-channel world.

By Larry Bauer

Creating a Print Ad That Works.

workinJoe-200Regardless of whose ad dogma you subscribe to, your goal is singular: cause a positive action. That’s it. Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? Well, in practice, causing a positive action in a print ad is trickier than you’d think.

There are three key tools for creating a great ad or campaign that causes a positive action. These are all of equal weight. Without all three, your ad’s success is in jeopardy.

  • Great concept.
  • On-target message.
  • Flawless execution.

Assuming you’re working with a great team to create a great concept and on-target message, the only thing you have left to worry about is flawless execution.

Great Concept

Your task is to be the exception. Buck the trends. Surprise and delight. Shock and awe—you get the drill. This is where you DON’T want to just keep up with the Joneses.

Anyone can put their product logo, photo and description in a box and call it an ad. But creating an ad that has true stopping power, snagging the reader in the 1.5 seconds they glance at the visual, is incredibly more difficult. Remember, a concept is an instance. Not too heavy, it’s quick and reels in the reader.


(click image to enlarge) I like the contrast of the above two examples for different reasons: Harley uses an insanely long headline whereas Valspar uses only a demure tagline near the chip. They are both perfectly suited to their vastly different markets.

On-target Message

Understanding your target audience and their specific desires is critical to determining the best message for your ad. A great visual will certainly stop them, but you’ve got to follow through with a compelling message. The message is the half-second remaining in the scan time readers will devote to your ad.

In order of importance, your message should be stated by the headline and supported by body text. Today’s consumers will never get to the body text much less your call-to-action unless your main message is a real grabber.

And remember, if your best effort results in hollow platitudes like great customer satisfaction, full ranges of solutions or some other drivel used by the masses, don’t bother. Consumers are more savy than you think and are much more critical than ever before. Most ads sound the same to them and they view you as an interruption to the article they’re reading.

Here are a few examples of what NOT to do from real-life ads (yawn yawn, blah blah blah):

Message Product Why it doesn’t work
Technology with an edge. kitchen knives Technology doesn’t cut my tomatoes, a good knife does. Keep the message focused on the benefit.
Why is this considered the most advanced wiper system ever? You’ll see. windshield wiper blades They lost me after the ninth syllable. Remember, 1.5 seconds of scanning time is devoted to the visual. That leaves only a mere half-second for the message. Make it efficient.
Solatube Solution. tubular skylights If I see ‘solution’ used one more time, I think I may hurl. If I want a groovy round skylight, I don’t want a solution.
Batteries not included…or needed electromagnetic flashlight There’s a germ of an idea with real stopping power here but it seems to have gotten killed by committee.

Now for a refreshing break, here are a few examples of intriguing messages, again from real-life ads:

Message Product Why it works
If it doesn’t get dirt, grease or blood under your nails, it’s not a hobby. Gerber Legend ® Multi-Plier tool Great extreme close up of cracked fingertips and dirty nails with message squarely targeting the male demographic of The Family Handyman magazine. Finished off with a flawless tagline for the DIYer: Fend for yourself.
What’s your carfun footprint? Mini-Cooper Twist of words requiring a double take is a good way to stop readers.
Looks like someone used too much Miracle-Gro®. Dodge Ram pick ups Dead-on to the target market of home and handyman magazines. Coulda had a more powerful visual but this chart is about the message.
Regrets cost a lot more.

I coulda got a smart, sensible turdmobile.

Six bucks a day. Cheaper than your smokes, a six pack, a lap dance, a bar tab, another tattoo, a parking ticket, a gas station burrito, a lip ring, bail, cheap sunglasses, more black t-shirts.

Harley-Davidson Dead-on target. Harley completely gets their target market’s need to consider themselves bad asses.

The third message is the exception to the rule of keeping the message efficient. Remember, there are always exceptions.

Flawless Execution

The execution component is fraught with a seemingly infinite set of ad rules and guidelines touted by “experts” and based on studies. These rules exist because marketing experts are always in search of absolutes. Unfortunately, there are none. Advertising to humans is by nature not a science. Examples of things that are truly scientific would include our brain’s reaction to specific colors (which is also cultural), our eye’s ability to read tiny type and a myriad of other gray matter-related abilities.

  • Rule makers attempt to define the often indefinable to make it available to everyone.
  • Rule breakers understand the rules and also how to bend or break them to exceed the ad’s goals.

Let’s look at a couple of typical rules that rule makers like to espouse:

Reversed type in ads doesn’t produce great response. While studies certainly suggest that this is true, we don’t know what ads were used in the studies, we don’t know if their message was on target, we don’t know if their visual had stopping power or even if the designer selected an appropriate typeface at an appropriate size for reversing.

For example, expecting 7 point Bodoni Light Condensed reversed from a 4-color process background on a trade journal’s web press to be successful in an ad is just plain silly. It ain’t gonna happen. But using a typeface with a larger x-height, regular weight like Myriad Pro Regular is safer and much more readable.

Suffice it to say, if you don’t know what you’re doing typographically, this is likely a good rule to follow.

All ads should contain a photo of the product. History has shown that there is likely something to be said for this rule. Remember the Nissan Infiniti launch campaign back in the late 80’s? Designers loved it because it eliminated the car from the ads and was considered edgy/risky. However, keep in mind, this car was developed to compete with Lexus, and Infiniti sales continue to lag. Would the Infiniti have competed better with Lexus if the launch campaign included car photos? We’ll never know for sure.

Lessons Learned

Balancing the need to stop the reader, support the brand and be readable is tricky. If all ads followed all the rules, none would stand out from the pack. Remember, great advertising is about getting attention, stopping the reader, enticing and snaring.

If you’ve got a great ad with stopping power, it’s readable and the message is on target, then likely it will work regardless of what the rules say. But if you’re short on one of the three keys, nothing will save your ad and your budget could be wasted.

But, like any good student, learn the rules before you break them. Know and understand what you’re doing and why.

By Julia Moran Martz

Public Relations vs. Advertising.

Where to spend your money? That’s always a tough question, but even more so in a down economy when budgets are tight and every dollar counts. So let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of PR and Advertising to help you make the best budget allocations for your organization:

Public Relations


  • Low cost
  • Third-party endorsement carries high value in today’s cynical marketplace
  • Many smaller trade publications and local newspapers need to fill space inexpensively with news releases and vendor bylined articles
  • Ditto for conferences looking for session leaders, panel members and secondary speakers
  • Opportunities to become an industry thought leader


  • Requires good media relationships to function at the highest level
  • Little or no control over the final message
  • Limited shelf life—usually a one-time appearance
  • Unpredictable exposure—no control over frequency or amount of coverage
  • Limited metrics



  • Control over message and creative
  • Ability to determine timing and frequency
  • Generally has longer shelf life
  • Better metrics to measure marketing ROI


  • Expensive—consumes your budget faster
  • Exposure proportional to your expenditure
  • Consumers know they’re reading a paid sales message
  • Lacks authenticity that comes from third-party endorsement

And the Winner Is…

It really depends on the size of your budget. In an ideal marketing world (let us know if you find one), you would have an appropriate blend of public relations and advertising to maximize your overall strategy.

Your decisions would be based more on the type of business you have and your marketing objectives. For example:

  • An accounting and management-consulting firm might weight its budget more toward public relations because of the value that indirect, third-party endorsements bring to a professional services organization.
  • A large national retail chain might have a heavier advertising budget to generate store traffic while allocating smaller PR budgets to individual stores for community relations building.

But your situation is different if you are a smaller organization that doesn’t have the budget luxury of creating an optimum plan. For you, PR is likely the better approach for direct and personal communications with your target prospects.

What is clear is that you need to actively promote your company on a consistent basis. Down economies make the task more challenging, but companies that market in good times and bad enjoy more success over the long haul. You remain visible to your audience and send a message of reliability, to say nothing of promoting your brand when others aren’t.

— by Larry Bauer