One of the main reasons why the conversation has shifted away from print advertising in recent years is that it’s much more straightforward to measure the impact of digital advertising.
When you invest money in Facebook ads or other digital methods, it’s easy to quantify the value of that campaign. And that’s what makes it so effective – it’s simple to scale what’s working, change what’s not, and figure out the winning formula for your school.
However, just because print advertising is more difficult to measure doesn’t mean you should abandon it altogether. Unlike in other industries (where traditional methods can be thrown to the wind), maintaining a physical advertising presence is still important for schools.
For many schools that I’ve worked with advertising in print publications, be it local press or The Good Schools Guide, is still very much a part of their overall marketing campaign strategy. Despite print press dwindling, these methods are still costly investments, so why is print still a draw for schools? When questioned answers range from ‘Because the Head says we have to’ to ‘All the other schools do, so we do too’ or even ‘We have always done it’. This is all compounded by the fact it’s really difficult to measure whether print advertising effectiveness.
In this article, we’d like to share with you our top three tips for getting maximum impact from your print advertising. Using these, you’ll be able to get the most out of your investment – no matter what form your campaign takes. If you want to have a clear advantage over competing schools who skip out on this process, then read on!
#1: Before You Start, Know Who You’re Targeting
All marketing is contextual. If you don’t know exactly who you’re trying to reach with a message, you’ll dramatically limit the effectiveness of your efforts.
One of the cornerstones of good marketing practice is to develop crystal-clear “customer personas” – essentially a detailed description of your ideal/target customer. In your school marketing role, this would be the parents of prospective pupils.
When building these personas, you need to ask specific, relevant questions such as:
- Their likely income
- Their professions
- Their interests
- Their family structure (number of children, marital status, etc.)
- The places they tend to shop
Getting clear on granular details about the people you’re targeting will help you create better campaigns in general but will also help you to get more from your print advertising too.
By figuring out what kinds of media they are likely to engage with (e.g. a particular magazine, newspaper, or local publication), you’ll be able to maximise your print advertising’s impact
Don’t neglect this step of the process: doing so will reduce the benefit you get from the rest of the tips in this article.
#2: Don’t Limit Your Reach By Choosing Unpopular Mediums
Once you’ve determined the best avenues for reaching prospective parents, you then need to dig a little deeper and examine those options in detail.
For print advertising, be sure to examine circulation figures – and that these figures are audited externally (to avoid any misrepresentation) such as Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) which are independently verified.
Likewise, ignore vanity metrics like readership – that statistic in particular is easily inflated by, for instance, multiple people in the same house reading a publication and they will declare that figure.
You want to target publications that offer you good access to your target audience and solid reach in general. For instance, a local glossy magazine that only goes out to 1,000 people is unlikely to be worth considering, whereas a newspaper reaching 10,000 prospects probably would be.
Also, get clear on how exactly the publication is distributed. Do people have to buy it, does it go through front doors? You are a consumer yourself: do you pick up and read local publications yourself or do they go straight in the bin? Who is their audience and how do they market themselves? What editorial do they run? Who are their other advertisers?
#3: Set Up Your Ad So It’s Easy To Measure Impact
Once you’ve created clear customer personas and chosen suitable mediums to advertise in, it’s time to start thinking about optimising the ad.
Firstly, you want to ensure it’s easy to determine how many conversions you get from a particular campaign. In the past, retail businesses would have done this by issuing specific coupons in different papers, then tallying up the numbers.
As a school marketer, you can’t count coupons – but you can customise your print ad so it’s simple to quantify its impact.
Here are some easy ways you can do this:
- Set up custom landing pages for each ad you create, then track visitors to each page in Google Analytics
- Use specially branded links
- If your print ad asks parents to phone the school, set up a separate phone number for each ad as needed
Print advertising has become less important in marketing as a whole – but for schools, it’s still important. And rather than throwing money away copying your competitors or choosing whatever option seems most interesting, it’s critical to have processes in place for measuring the impact of your campaigns.
This is important for private schools: with Brexit looming, many prospective parents might wonder if the investment for private schooling is a wise choice. They need convincing – and with limited funds to do so, you have to stretch every £ as far as it will go.
For private and public schools, maximising the impact of your print advertising budget is key in continuing to thrive in a complicated marketplace. And using the tips we’ve outlined here, you’ll be well on your way to doing so.