BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE: FRONTIER - the resource for entrepreneurs  
By Karen E. Klein
MAY 16, 2000

It Pays to Advertise -- Again and Again and Again

But a magazine must do some advertising of its own to make the point clear


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Smart Answers Archive

Q:  I publish a monthly magazine primarily about horses. The majority of my clients feel as though a single one-quarter-page ad in any given month is going to be all that is needed. Do you know of any articles that explain to the average person the benefits of repetitive advertising?

-- K.C., Ravenna, Mich.

A:  Educating your advertisers about the importance of advertising frequency and branding is an excellent idea, particularly if they're unsophisticated individual ranchers or small-business owners who make their own media buys. If your advertisers are larger companies that have advertising agencies handling their media placement strategy, you simply need to convince them that your publication is important enough to warrant some ad dollars.

But for smaller companies, it may be helpful to include surveys and statistics in your media kit that demonstrate the need for multiple insertions. Third-party articles will carry more credibility and come off less self-serving than if you try to write the articles yourself.

Media and advertising textbooks say on average, it takes at least four ad impressions to make a consumer aware of a company and more than 30 contacts (a combination of ads, signage, word of mouth, etc.) to move that individual from being unaware to actually making a first purchase. A one-time ad that isn't followed up with additional exposure is nearly always a waste of money, no matter how narrow the target market or how good the publication.

Get permission to reprint or excerpt information like this from books or industry publications like Advertising Age, Adweek, or Mediaweek magazines, which frequently run articles on good media strategy. "You want to make sure your customers understand that all advertising takes time to work. It never, or rarely, works on a one-time buy. You should structure your ad rates so your advertisers can buy in bulk at an advantage," says Sydney Weisman of Los Angeles-based Weisman Hamlin Public Relations.

Combining statistics from several sources (e.g. trade journals) may help you develop a one-time or recurring newsletter aimed at your advertisers, chock full of persuasive data about how effective your publication can be in reaching their customers. Another idea would be for you to survey your regular advertisers to see what kind of results they're getting with you, and then summarize the outcomes for potential new advertisers, says Deborah McMurray of Deborah McMurray Associates, a strategic marketing firm based in Dallas.

"While you're doing that, write up a profile of who your perfect advertiser is so you can qualify the people who will best benefit from advertising in your magazine and not waste your time persuing companies outside your target," she adds.

Read some books on advertising and branding, and recommend them to your advertisers. McMurray suggests two favorites: The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, by Al Ries and Laura Ries, published by HarperCollins and available online for $17; and Marketing Aesthetics, by Bernd Schmitt and Alex Simonson, published by Free Press and selling for around $21.

Have a question about running your business? Ask our small-business experts. Send us an E-mail at, or write to Smart Answers, BW Online, 46th Floor, 1221 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020. Please include your real name and phone number in case we need more information; only your initials and city will be printed. Because of the volume of mail, we won't be able to respond to all questions personally.


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