By: Chris Barr
Print advertisements, color flyers, and brochures continue to generate cash flow and develop new revenue streams for industries across the globe. It’s no surprise that nearly every mega-business (think industry leaders) achieved their position by utilizing key concepts in advertising that have evolved from very humble beginnings. Not all advertising works, so it is extremely important to understand how ads work, why some succeed while others fail, and what your ads should consist of to generate the maximum ROI.
The Birth of Modern Advertising
Although there were always market vendors from the early days of ‘civilization’ who would stand in the marketplace ‘crying’ their wares, it wasn’t until the advent of the printing press that print advertising as we know it today came into being. In the very beginning, advertising was nothing more than a single line of copy in the newspaper that perhaps listed the product, the price, and a very simple description. Among scholars, it is held that this form of printed advertising first appeared somewhere in the latter part of the 17th century. As time went on, and as the technology of printing progressed, color was added and at some point simple graphics evolved into photographic images.
For the next almost 200 years printed advertising remained pretty much the same. A single line of copy or perhaps a small block of text was all that consumers were likely to see in their local papers. That is until Thomas Barratt, who married into the family of the famous Pears Soap Empire, decided to launch an aggressive advertising campaign to promote their product to the rising middle class who finally had buying power. In the beginning, Pears Soap had been marketed to a small portion of the population, the elite who could afford an expensive, handcrafted scented soap that was suitable for their ivory complexions. Now that the working middle class was a viable market, and knowing that he had to ‘reach’ them in order to keep his family business afloat, Barratt set about formulating a marketing strategy that would reach the masses. They revamped their production lines in order to make Pears Soap affordable to the average consumer and set about developing an aggressive marketing campaign to reach that demographic. Thomas Barratt is famous for his cherubic children in the Pears Soap advertisements, many of which we still recognize to this very day. Because of his aggressive marketing strategies and innovative use of print, he is often considered to be the “Father of Modern Advertising.”
During WWI, to offset the rising costs of advertising, the philosophy of creating a need was introduced to the masses. Companies begain creating “perceived needs.” For the first time, all of the strategies which are now tried and tested advertising methodologies, were melded together and distributed to consumers. The rest is history.
The 3 key elements of print advertising are:
1. Reach the maximum amount of potential customers at the lowest cost possible
2. Design aesthetically pleasing or response-driving artwork
3. Create a need for your product/service while offering “irresistable” benefits to consumers
Today’s flyer printing and advertising still focuses on these key strategies, which have been proven to work using decades worth of statistics. Technologies, products, and services change over time, however, human needs and response criteria remain largely the same over time.
Let’s put history to work to visualize the success of the 3 Keys. For example, consider Burger King and McDonald’s. They dominate the fast-food market for their niche and they got there by reaching a huge market with advertising that was eye-catching and created a need. During the latter half of the 20th century commerce was booming and the average family was living life in the fast lane. Both corporations capitalized on this fast-paced environment by employing ads that were appealing to the eye, while also playing on the need that they were creating. The message is simple, “you are important.” In other words, “you deserve to do things for yourself and take time away from your busy lifestyle.”
McDonald’s still uses the ‘Golden Arches’ which symbolize a place where life is idyllic and a far cry from the hectic life that people are forced to endure to make ends meet. “You deserve a break today at McDonald’s. We do it all for you.” Their impressive advertising strategy planted a seed in the heads of consumers that they deserve to take a break and let someone take over at least one of their daily tasks – cooking.
The same hold’s true with the marketing strategy employed by Burger King. “Have it your way!” The message being, you answer to a boss, you answer to your family and you are bogged down with responsibilities, so now it is time to do what you want for a change. You deserve to have it ‘your way,’ and, of course, since you should be treated like a king/queen, there is a subliminal message in the famous BK crown.
All 3 Key strategies were employed by both mega-corporations early on, and as you can see, literally launched them to the very top of the fast-food market. They launched national advertising campaigns (Key #1) with pleasing advertisement designs (Key #2) to create a need (Key #3) in the lives of mass consumers.
Avoid Common Misconceptions in Flyer Advertising by Researching Demographics
One of the most common misconceptions that business owners have when creating flyers is to think that designing a flyer based on the ‘3 Keys to Success’ is all there is to it. There are actually other ‘steps’ that should be taken prior to creating your flyer campaign. It is a huge mistake to believe that an ‘eye-catching’ flyer that reaches a ‘maximum number of people’ and creates a ‘need’ is all there is to it. One of the factors that should be considered is researching the demographics in a specific market area before launching your campaign or none of those three keys will fit the lock! In other words, targeted marketing is the “true” key to success.
Understand your market demographics to make the 3 keys work for you!
Look at this research which paid off for McDonald’s and Burger King – big time. At the time of their rise to fame, market analysis was simple and provided basic insight into the lifestyles of the consumers they were trying to reach. It is apparent that their advertising campaigns focused on the working middle class who were overwhelmed with work at relatively low wages. There were definite psychological tactics employed that wouldn’t have been effective if their ads didn’t reach the right people with the right message. You can’t create a need where there is no void to fill. It is as simple as that.
Take a good long look at the product or service you are selling, find a demographic that has a void that you can fill, and target them with amazing advertisements. Create and distribute your flyers to reach as many of that demographic group as possible, make it appealing so it catches their eye, and then set about filling the void you have discovered by creating or emphasizing a need. If you don’t have the resources to do the research in your market area, there is an age-old trick that enables you to ‘borrow’ research that has already proven to be effective. It’s so obvious that it is easy to miss, it’s called “analyzing what your competitors use.”
Take a look at the two burger empires to see just how effective it is to ‘borrow’ what is working for your competition! It doesn’t really matter which corporation did the actual market analysis first, the point is that one of them found a void, filled it by creating a need, and launched an all out advertising campaign that could fill that need/void. Then, as history has it, the war was on. Although the area of that ‘void’ those two corporations addressed were to some degree different, they both identified the void and created a need based on something missing in the lives of consumers. Remember, that was the time of the “Me Generation” so when consumers felt like they were losing control of their lives due to the need to care for others, both corporations pounced on that and ran with it. One company promised that consumers could have it their way while the other provided a break from the reality of losing the sense of self that was so vital at that time.
You can do the same thing in your market area by expanding on what is effectively working for your competitors. Obviously they have found a way to create a need in order to sell their products/services. Whatever they are utilizing is working because it is bringing in the business. Take the time to analyze their marketing strategies. Try to identify the demographics they are reaching out to. What forms of advertising are your competitors using and how are they distributing it? Competitive analysis is exactly what highly successful businesses like Burger King and McDonald’s do. They analyze the competition and then try to stay one step ahead of them. Once you have the concept of your advertising created, it’s time to get down to the practical aspect of printing and distribution.
It’s Time to Print Your Flyer – What are Your Options?
Now that you have your campaign all laid out it’s time to figure out what size and weight of paper will best accommodate your message. There are various sizes to choose from, depending on the amount of information you need to include. Here are the most popular flyer printing and brochure sizes:
• 5.5” x 8.5” (half sheet)
• 8.5” x 11″ (full page)
• 8.5” x 14” (legal size)
• 11” x 17” (double full page size)
You can also choose the weight of the paper based on how you will be distributing your flyers. Paper weight used in commercial printing is different then from the stuff you buy at Staples or Office Depot. Never waste money at a small local printer or over-pay for your bulk printing of advertisements. Always choose a reputable and trusted flyer printing company that uses large printing presses and offers “commercial quality” results. Remember: You don’t want to spend as much on advertising as a mega-comapny, but you sure want to look as good as they do!
Options for Designing Your Flyer
Once you have done market research and have developed an advertising theme, it is time to put it all on paper. While some business owners hire professional graphic designers to layout their flyers, others choose to do their own designing at home, or using pre-designed templates online using various web-based design tools. It all depends on your design ability and the intricacy of the design you will need.
U-Design is a popular do-it-yourself design tool and a beautifully laid out flyer is just a few mouse clicks away. The more information and graphics you need to include, the more difficult it becomes. If the do it yourself approach does not work, professional graphic designers can assist you with the layout for any advertising job, large or small. When you place a bulk print order online, a quality printing company will provide professional design services at discounted rates. So if the scope of your flyer is beyond your reach, and the online templates don’t meet your needs, let professionals do the designing for you.
Fold or No Fold?
The size of your flyer is the first consideration as to whether or not you will need to opt for a bi-fold or tri-fold flyer. There are times when your flyer needs to be folded, for instance if it is oversized such as the 8.5” x 14” or 11” x 17” sizes. And, of course, the size of your flyer is usually dependent on the amount of copy and graphics that need to be included. Newspaper inserts, for example, are often printed on 8.5” by 11” or 11” x 17” and then bi-folded before being stuffed. They fit nicely into the paper and can be opened, booklet style, to browse through specials and coupons. Many of the large pharmacy chains like Walgreen’s and Eckerd’s use a bi-fold type newspaper insert flyer for weekly promotions. Knowing when to fold and when not to fold is important because there are also times when folding your flyer would be a grave mistake. If the layout and graphic design would be obscured by the fold it would be better to keep it flat whenever possible. Consider the visibility of your offer and the ease-of-handling for your customers at all times.
Now that you have learned to ‘Walk the Walk’ it’s time to ‘Talk the Talk’ – Printing Terminology 101
When you communicate with your printer there are some basic terms that you should be aware of. These are everyday words in the vocabulary of a printer, so there might be times that they will forget that many of us don’t speak a ‘foreign printing language.’ And, this terminology is all the more important if you are going to try your hand at designing your own flyer. Many mistakes can be avoided if you have a basic understanding of a few printing terms that refer to the details of your project.
Bleed – This is extremely important if your design is a graphic that is meant to be borderless. A good rule of thumb is to increase your design by approximately 1/8” beyond the cutting area because trimmers are not as precise as printing presses. In order to avoid that white border around an image, plan for a ‘bleed.’
No Bleed – Leave a small 1/4″ white border around the entire page. Graphics do not extend or cover the entire page when printing as “no bleed.”
C2S/C1S – This refers to whether the paper being printed is coated on one side or both. Obviously ‘C2S’ is shiny on both sides whereas ‘C1S’ is matte on one side and shiny on the face. C1S is typically used on postcard type flyers.
CPM – Cost per thousand. (For example $39.50 cpm is $395.00 for 10,000 copies.)
CMYK – The standard four colors that are used in printing. (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) While most colors can be produced by ‘layering’ these standard four colors, it is important to know that some shades might not be exact.
4/0 and 4/4 – 4/4 is four colors on both sides of double-sided printing and 4/1 refers to 4 colors on the face and no colors ont he back.
These are just a small sampling of some of the ciritical terms that might come up when discussing your flyer. Don’t be afraid to tell your printer that you don’t understand what they are referring to. It is your flyer after all, and your satisfaction is what keeps printers in business. Quality work, affordable pricing, and customer satisfaction have been the focus of printers for decades now.
The Power of Full Color Printing. There is No Substitute for Color!
There is no better way to say it, but, printing in black and white is just plain boring. The absolute best way to generate massive response is to use full color (glossy) flyer printing because it follows the rules of effective advertising. It identifies a void, creates a need, and presents an eye-catching/pleasing solution to that need which engenders a ‘call to action’ response.
For example, a restaurant specializes in scrumptious half-pound Black Angus burgers with all the trimmings. Their logo is a burger platter with lettuce, pickles, tomatoes and red onions on an offset sesame bun, lying next to a side of seasoned fries. Imagine how important a color image is here. Obvious, right? By printing that logo in color the company will make sure the ad is:
1. eye-catching (full color image)
2. exposing a void (hunger)
3. creating an immediate need (mouth watering temptation)
4. suggesting a call-to-action (it’s time to eat – let’s get one of those!)
As you can see, a black and white picture of that platter would not meet the first one of those rules. It surely wouldn’t catch anyone’s eye so it couldn’t possibly address their hunger with a delicious looking burger. And of course, without temptation, in this case, there is no call to action. While it may seem that the extra expense (which in many cases is negligible) of printing in color might not be necessary, it definitely is. If your flyer doesn’t generate a call-to-action response you are wasting your money! The sole purpose of advertising is to generate business so it is important to utilize ‘every trick in the book,’ so to speak, to make that advertising work for you. If spending a few extra dollars now can generate thousands of dollars in business, it is well worth the expenditure.
‘Turnkey’ Printing & Marketing Solution Providers
Quite often small business owners opt to design a flyer and take it to their local ‘Copy Shop’ to have them run off a few hundred flyers. Sometimes they even choose to print some at home or from their office. Usually it is a matter of cost. They are trying to save a few dollars because business hasn’t been good. As a matter of fact, that’s why they are printing flyers in the first place – to generate business and cash flow. That might be one of the poorest financial decisions that the business owner ever makes. The only guaranteed way to bring business in the door is with advertising that works! Always, always trust an experienced printing and distribution company (ie: direct mail service provider) when it comes to your advertiisng campaigns.
Turnkey printing and marketing solution providers, get excellent results by providing professional guidance at low rates. Their graphic designers and marketing consultants have access to the latest trends in marketing and distribution processes. In effect, you have everything under one roof. Professionals are on hand from the very ‘concept’ of your flyer right down to the final distribution. They are in touch with what is working in given market areas based on marketing research and statistical analysis that they have at their fingertips. Professionals know what works and, better yet, they know how to put that knowledge to work for you. Put your money to work for you, don’t throw it out the window! It is a much wiser financial decision to spend a little more now on effective advertising that actually generates business. That is something you can take to the bank.
The Co-Dependency of the “2 D’s” – Design and Distribution
When planning your flyer it is important to take distribution into account before you actually begin designing it. This is one of the areas in which a professional ‘turnkey’ printing and marketing solution provider can be of invaluable assistance. The size of your flyer could preclude some forms of distribution so they can assist you in carefully weighing your distribution options prior to planning your design. For instance, if you are planning to do direct mailing then 2.5” x 5” postcards wouldn’t be at all practical. They’d easily get lost in the mix of mail and rarely seen by any custoemers. If you have contracted with a company to hang flyers door-to-door, your design would need to be conducive to being stuffed in a door hanger bag or printed on 4.25” x 11” door hanger card stock.
If you are uncertain as to which method of distribution you should utilize, talk to your printer. There are so many options available to you and based on the demographics of your targeted market, it is essential that you distribute your flyer in a manner that can offer the highest response. Most professional printers have the wherewithal to actually set up distribution for you and carry out the campaign. Whether you are going with direct mailing (recommended for most small businesses) or placing flyers in local publications, your design should always be contingent upon the method of distribution. It’s smart to think ahead.
Direct Mail Services are Proven to Generate High Return on Investment (ROI)
One method of distribution that should be emphasized is Direct Mail. Recent statistics provided by the United States Postal Service state that the average household receives approximately 25 pieces of mail per week, and 52% of that mail is Direct Mail advertising. Here is where it gets interesting. A survey was conducted that indicates that 51% of consumers will read mail from merchants and 16% of them will respond to that mail. Let’s break this down into figures to look at just how effective this form of distribution really is.
Using a base figure of 1,000 households that receive 25 pieces of mail per week, that is 25,000 pieces of mail that gets delivered. Of that 25,000, 52% is Direct Mail advertising, which means that 13,000 of those items are some form of advertising. Now, based on the proven response rates, 51% of consumers will read that mail which means that 6,630 ads are being opened and read. Of that number, 16% will respond which means that 1061 ads are generating business. On an average, every household is responding to one or more ads per week!
Of course, not all of that mail will be in direct competition with your product or service. With professional advertising that works, it is possible to dominate your market. That is why it is financially prudent to utilize the services of a professional ‘turnkey’ printing and marketing solutions company. They have the advertising and distribution skills and expertise to put it all together for you so that your ads generate business with profit-raising end results.
Your flyer is printed and distributed – now it’s time to Track Results!
You have just put a lot of time, effort, and some expense into researching, planning, designing, printing and distributing a flyer to advertise your business. Of course, you want to know just how effective that advertising is. One sure way would be to track your before and after income. If it is steadily on the rise that is a good indicator that your advertising is paying off. However, there are some times when you want something a little more tangible. Many businesses place discount coupons on their flyers that must be redeemed in order to take advantage of the promotional pricing. By keeping count of coupons that are redeemed, they are able to track the success of their advertising campaign. Make sure to discuss the fact that you want to employ some method of tracking results with your printer. They can help you layout your flyer to incorporate tracking coupons into the design.
Put it all together with the 7 “Must Know” Rules for Flyer Printing Success
Based on the strategies detailed above, advertising with flyers can be highly effective if you follow the “7 Must Know Rules.” Keep these rules in mind as you plan your advertising and you will be amazed at the results.
Rule #1 – Plan in Advance! Leave ample time for everything that needs to be done. The actual ‘printing’ part of the process might only take 24 to 48 hours in ‘turn around’ time, but there is so much more to successful flyer advertising. Planning, research, market analysis, design, proofing and distribution need to be accounted for. Leave enough time to get your flyers out in a timely manner prior to any promotions you intend to run.
Rule #2 – Target Specific Demographics. Understand your market. What are the demographics you intend to target? Understanding your audience is of prime importance if you are going to ‘create a need’ and a ‘call to response.’ Effective advertising reaches people at some deeper level and calls them to act upon what you have to offer. Learn how to speak their language in terms they understand with a message they can’t afford to miss!
Rule #3 – Analyze the Competition. Just as those huge burger conglomerates feed off each other’s advertising strategies, you should do the same thing in terms of your competitors. Take the time to learn and understand what is working for them and then improve on it. You’ll be amazed at what a little honest ‘thievery’ can do!
Rule #4 – Consistent Branding. Although this wasn’t discussed, effective advertising results in your name being synonymous with the product or service you are offering. For example, how many people do you hear asking for a facial tissue? Not many, I would presume. They ask for a ‘Kleenex’ which is a specific brand of facial tissues. That’s what branding is all about. Use it effectively in your flyers and you will literally dominate your market.
Rule #5 – Simplicity. One of the most important rules in advertising that often gets misplaced is simplicity. Consumers are too busy or too distracted to read lengthy copy. Employ graphics, images, bullet points or whatever you can find to keep your message short and to the point.
Rule #6 – Distribution Methods. This is where many businesses fail when using flyers to advertise. Based on the type of flyer (i.e. menu, coupons, etc) it is essential to plan for distribution. Once you understand your targeted demographics you can plan for effective distribution. Whether it is direct mail, door-hangers, newspaper inserts, flyers in local businesses or any other method of distribution, it is essential to determine the best way to reach the biggest audience. That’s what advertising is all about – numbers.
Rule #7 – Advertise, Advertise, Advertise! Don’t fall prey to the misconception that one round of flyer printing is going to put you at the top of your market. Too many businesses almost make it to the finish line and for some reason or another don’t follow up on their advertising campaigns. Keep the USPS statistics in mind throughout your campaign. Every household responds to direct mail ads every per week. Yours could be, and should be next!
Chris Barr is a marketing professional and graduate of Christopher Newport University. His areas of expertise include direct mail, internet marketing,copy writing, SEO, and new business development. Chris currently serves as Marketing Director for Taradel, LLC in Richmond, VA.
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