Freelancers know that silence = death and visibility promotes business viability. To that end, we craft an expert elevator pitch to serve as our verbal package and take that on the road, hoping it will open doors for us. We position ourselves as experts by speaking, teaching, attending conferences and writing a newsletter or blog. We attend selected networking events and business association meetings so that we can connect with prospective clients and colleagues.
The next step in this process is to upgrade visibility to credibility, for that is the way to convert prospects into clients. As you brainstorm strategies that might advance your brand and build credibility, examine the benefits that a print media campaign can deliver.
Print media are still very much with us and I would argue, still effective, despite significant inroads by the various (and sometimes free) online media. Print ads can be costly, but if you can find the budget, this option can be worth your while. Begin to assess your priorities:
1. The objective. Decide what you would like to accomplish. Do you want to establish credibility among clients and B2B peer referral sources? Are you announcing a new product or service? Do you want to stimulate business within a new target market?
2. The audience. Who must you reach to accomplish your objectives? Which publications are read and respected by that audience?
3. The budget. Visit publication websites and peruse the rate cards. See also the demographic data: circulation, distribution, special issues that might benefit your objectives, etc. What size ad can you afford to place for how many times during the year?
Additionally, you may decide to mail a postcard to a professional group to which important clients belong—if you can obtain an address list. Mailings are expensive, although printing costs have dropped dramatically over the years. It is possible to mail at bulk rate, which is much slower but much cheaper.
If you belong to a chamber of commerce or similar business association, consider advertising in its newsletter (whether print or online), which will be published at least quarterly. Ad rates are typically reasonable and it’s usually read by members.
If your objective is to build your credibility among colleagues and therefore stimulate B2B referrals, and/or to announce a new product or service, this will be an excellent ad placement choice. Newsletter advertisements are a great way to remind fellow members of who you are and what you do. When you attend association events, it is likely that colleagues will mention your ad and ask questions about your business. Referrals could follow.
It may also be possible to place ads in the newsletters of professional associations to which clients belong. Whether your objective is to enter a new market, announce new products /services or build credibility, these publications likewise make excellent ad placement choices.
Depending upon your target market and budget, neighborhood newspapers or the local business newspaper will also provide excellent ad placement options that will help you to achieve your brand advancement and credibility building objectives.
Whatever your objective, remember that there is power and elegance in simplicity. Express your product and service features, benefits and tagline (if you have one) using terminology that will grab your audience. Use clear and compelling language that sells your core services and portrays you as a competent and reliable professional. Use that refrain in all ad placements.
Hire a professional (or a student) to devise a good visual concept, even if your ad will be text-only and business card size. Your ad must look sleek and professional—just like you! The style of your business card will be the starting point for the development of a graphic style for your ad. Use the colors, logo (if you have one) and graphic look in all ad placements.
Consistency is key in advertising: the message, graphic style and frequency of the ad must be repeated again and again. Studies have shown that ads don’t register with the target audience until they have been seen at least three times. Budget your ad placements to appear several times throughout the year, at least bi-monthly. One time only ads are a waste of money. It is better to appear in one publication 4-6 times a year than in two publications 2-3 times a year.
Thanks for reading,