Print advertising is a trusted and effective way for brands to market their products and services, but the economic pressures of COVID-19 have led some brands to prefer short-term (and often cheaper) online campaigns linked to measurable commercial outcomes. So let’s explore six ways to deliver maximum value to your B2B print advertisers – at a time when they need it most.
Print advertising within B2B magazines delivers premium opportunities to reach highly targeted, engaged and qualified audiences. It’s a powerful tool to build long-term brand awareness and trust.
But, as media sales expert Ryan Dohrn notes, the “instant gratification” of online advertising has diminished the perceived value of print, with marketers and agencies shying away from traditional media “because they don’t receive a report to show their boss they are doing their job”.
And faced with the economic pressures of COVID-19, PwC’s latest Australian Media Outlook for 2020-2024 expects print advertising to continue to decline, with brands preferencing the short-term, measurable campaigns linking directly to commercial outcomes that are most often fulfilled by online marketing techniques.
This may put pressure on securing print advertising revenues, but it doesn’t diminish the effectiveness of print advertising. It just means that you need to review your processes – across data, editorial and sales – to make sure you are delivering the maximum value to your print clients, and communicating this effectively.
Here are six techniques focusing on building a powerful first-party data set, relationship-based selling, and marketing your magazine brand. Done together – these tips will have a cumulative effect on the value you provide to your clients.
None of the tips are rocket science – most likely you know them already – but are you actually implementing them? Take this article as your call to action.
1. Delve into the data to truly understand your audience
Your value lies in the relationship you have with your targeted readership, your understanding of their needs, and the trust they have in your brand to deliver content that’s relevant to them.
Communicating this effectively to your print clients offers an easy way to add value. It builds confidence in your client that they are reaching the right audience, and it demonstrates that you’re the expert in how to market to them.
I’m not talking about the standard industry segment pie-chart you see in every B2B publisher’s media kit. I’m talking about delving deeper, and creating an insightful data set that rivals that of online media:
- Review and analyse your digital edition data to provide insights on the type of content that resonates with your audience, and the companies that they are most interested in.
- Review and analyse your website data to do the same – what type of content generates the most engagement, and how can this be replicated in the magazine (in more detail)?
- Regularly survey your magazine readership for feedback on the magazine, their content preferences, and buying patterns.
- Complete brand recall surveys – after each edition is sent to print, survey a sample of your magazine subscribers on their awareness of the brands that provide products and services to the industry, including your advertising clients. These surveys are a powerful way to demonstrate the engagement of your print readership and the effectiveness of advertising in your magazine.
- Analyse the content consumption habits of key audience segments so that you can provide more targeted insights to your clients and build bespoke packages that drive results.
Then, communicate this to your existing and prospective magazine advertisers.
Fold the data into your media kits, detail the data in your company blog, send details and links to your analysis in your sales e-marketing campaigns, and talk about it within your sales calls.
Some examples of publishers that have communicated their audience data well to advertising clients, include:
- Australian Community Media (ACM), which presented how its audiences consume business information at an association conference, and published a series of articles on its websites;
- Universal Media Co, which used a reader survey on buying habits to build confidence in its advertising clients in the months following Australia’s first COVID-19 lockdown; and,
- Prime Creative Media, which published a detailed report at the start of the 2021 financial year on business sentiment and trusted media types across its brand segments.
2. Tailor your advertising packages to meet your clients’ needs
Say goodbye to transactional selling. It doesn’t cut it these days.
Take the time to understand your clients’ needs by asking these questions (at a bare minimum):
- What is their marketing goal – brand awareness, the launch of a new product or service, etc.?
- Which segment of your list are they trying to reach?
- What is their budget, and at what time do they decide their marketing budget each year?
- What are their marketing needs based on the size of the company and their level of in-house marketing expertise?
(Side note: here’s a good article on questions that tease out a client’s true needs.)
Then create package options that meet these needs. These packages could be a combination of set options you have available, or they could include bespoke options designed to meet a client’s particular needs.
It doesn’t matter what the package is – traditional or native advertising, sponsored content, a combination of print and digital options, short-term vs annual, a multi-edition thought leadership content marketing strategy – the key is that it is structured to meet the needs of the client.
Be prepared to think outside the box, and expand your sales offering if what you currently provide isn’t meeting the needs of your clients.
Consider offering limited, high-demand marketing options only available to those that purchase print advertising, for example solus EDMs or webinars.
Armed with your audience’s media consumption data, you should be able to create a compelling evidence-based proposition to your clients that adds value by growing their brand and bolstering their reputation, while giving them confidence in their purchasing decision.
3. Provide your clients with support to generate best engagement – before and after publication
The follow on from the above is that you then provide your clients with the support they need to create the editorial and branding artwork for their package.
Some clients will have skilled in-house marketing teams that can lead the fulfillment of the editorial and/or advertising artwork, others will be small business owners that don’t have the time to map out their marketing strategy, or need help to create a campaign that drives the best engagement.
Fold your editorial and/or design team into the conversation, and offer their services within the advertising package if required. This could take the form of:
- Offering tips to increase editorial or advertising engagement based on the data you’ve collected from your audience;
- Mapping out a marketing campaign strategy for an annual package that is aligned with your magazine’s features and the client’s goals; or,
- The creation of editorial and advertising artwork, or other package elements including video production or podcast audio (if you’ve got the capability to embed this into your digital edition)
- Producing regular blog posts with branding and content marketing tips, plus report findings and statistics on print engagement levels.
A key benefit of print is the creativity that it affords your client – help your clients use this to their advantage.
4. Don’t ghost after sending a magazine to print
A good way to add value is to make sure that your support doesn’t end with the publication of clients’ editorial and advertising within your magazine.
As well as promoting your magazine clients’ participation on your own social media channels, think about how you can package up your clients’ material so they can repurpose it via their own marketing channels – whether that be additional copies to hand out to their clients and stakeholders, or their article in digital format to publish on their website, company e-newsletter, or social media accounts.
Keeping up with today’s multi-channel marketing world can be overwhelming for even the most experienced marketing personnel, so the opportunity to repurpose content is a most welcome add-on. It’s also a win-win – allowing your magazine brand to reach a wider audience, while helping your client.
The sales process doesn’t end with the magazine being sent to print either, although it’s often an area that’s overlooked. Make sure your sales team follows up clients with details on fulfillment:
- Directly after publication: let clients know when the magazine is expected to reach subscribers, the link to your digital edition, the page number their marketing falls on, and send through any collateral for repurposing;
- Two weeks to one month after publication: send through key engagement statistics from your digital edition plus any positive feedback you’ve received on the magazine;
- One month after publication: check in to make sure they’ve received their print copies, and give your client the opportunity to provide any feedback/talk about strategies for future bookings.
Print is a premium product with a premium price tag. It should demand premium customer service.
5. Promote your magazine brand
Many B2B publishers are so busy working in their magazines that they spend little time working on their magazines. But it’s really important that you take time out from promoting your clients, to promote your own magazine brand.
In fact, you owe it to your clients to do so. They’re choosing you as a vehicle to market their products and services to their target market. That means that – not only do they expect you to have good relationships with the market’s critical mass – they expect you to be actively marketing your magazine and engaging with new entrants to the market.
Demonstrating that you have a prominent profile at industry events, good relationships with relevant associations, and a dominant online presence – across organic and paid options – builds your list and the confidence of advertisers in your magazine brand.
6. Position print correctly in your sales offer
Print is a premium option, but a lot of magazine publishers don’t treat it that way, offering significant discounts on rate card prices to generate interest.
Discounting is a slippery slope. It diminishes the perceived effectiveness of print, and it’s hard to come back from. But if you’re actively thinking of ways to add value to your print clients then you shouldn’t need to discount.
Instead, implement value-add options like the above to have the confidence to sell your print advertising options at full price. These options take time and resources, but they’ll lead to more sales.