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Advisor Marketing: Magazine Advertising

Your city probably has one or more high-gloss magazines targeting the affluent people in your region. Should you advertise in your region’s magazine? First, you must confirm that the readership of the magazine matches the demographics of your targeted clientele. Does the typical reader sound like someone you’d like to have sit across your desk?

One such magazine in Southern California is South Coast magazine, self-described as the “magazine of the California Riviera.” The magazine states “South Coast readers live in households with a median property value of approximately $950,000 with a median age of 41.5, and a median income of approximately $164,000. Our readers are predominately young, affluent, active, educated, well-traveled professionals, who seek challenge in their lives.”

Home value and income levels are high yet the median age is 41.5. Wonderful if you target professionals. Not so great if you target retirees needing estate planning.

The advantage of magazine ads over newspaper advertising is that magazines often will sit around for a month or two before being tossed in the trash. Newspapers come daily and are quickly tossed. These high-gloss magazines are designed to look good sitting on your coffee table. Which increases the chances of your ad being seen.

This advantage becomes a disadvantage if your ad is a dud. You’ll need to live with your ad for a whole month before you can tweak the headline or change the name of the free report.

What should your ad say? Resist the temptation to create a glitzy image ad showing how wonderful you are. Your ad should offer something of real value to get readers to contact your office. You need their contact information so you can follow-up with them later with your newsletter or e-zine. You could offer a free report on retirement planning pitfalls or an invitation to an upcoming community seminar.

Should you try a one-time test? Someone once said the most popular form of gambling for small businesses is advertising. This is especially true of magazine advertising. Don’t expect to make a big splash with a big full-page ad run one-time. Even a proven ad in a new publication may need time to work. For monthly magazines budget for 3 months and a weekly magazine budget for 4 weeks minimum to give the ad a fair test. Far better to run a quarter-page ad 3 times than a full-page ad just once.

What size ad should you start with? Many magazines have active classified sections in the back of the magazine. You can start with a small classified ad offering a free report. The ad won’t cost much and can easily pay for itself. Gradually increase the size of the ad as long as the ad is paying for itself. You can add a bigger headline and a splash of color to a small display ad to get more attention. Go to a quarter page ad and keep tracking the results. A half-page ad may pull better than a full-page ad. You won’t know if you don’t track the results.

Who should design your ad? Be careful if the magazine offers to design your ad at no cost. The graphic designers probably aren’t skilled in copywriting. Plus they have a tendency to try to design a beautiful ad versus an effective ad. You don’t want to win a design award…you want to win new clients. You want the ad to pay for itself.

Want to get free advertising? Take a look at the magazine and see if they have a financial columnist or not. Offer to write a monthly column in exchange for some display advertising. How much advertising should you ask for? Let’s assume that your hourly rate is $175 per hour and it takes you an average of 3 hours to write an article. You value your articles at $500 each so ask for twice that in free advertising in lieu of payment. If $1000 buys a quarter page ad, you could do a half-page ad every other month.

Magazine ads should be considered when you know the magazine’s readers match your targeted niche, you have proven ads with tested headlines and offers, and you have the budget to test an ad for several issues in a row.

Richard Emmons