Small Business Print Advertising at the Local Level


Managing advertising budgets is one of the most difficult jobs undertaken by small business owners.  For starters, it is never easy to track returns, so advertising effectiveness is hard to evaluate.  Even when efforts are as focused as possible, money gets left on the table.  One avenue for small business owners with limited advertising budgets is to direct campaigns using local print media.

While community papers and local ad resources are talked up by ad representatives, it is up to each business owner to measure the value of local print advertising.  It depends on things like expected returns, what types of products and services you sell, and what the print advertising landscape looks like in your market.

Weekend newspaper editions are coveted for their coupon inserts, furnishing manufacturer savings on grocery items.  When coupons are redeemed efficiently, the value can be significant to consumers, so the practice of clipping coupons is widespread.  Newspaper inserts are big business for advertisers, offering grocery savings alongside other big-box enticements.  And since consumers view them as resources, small businesses once found success in weekend editions too.  But has the playing field shifted beyond local print advertising?

Writing on the Wall?

Readership is down for paper copies of local news publications.  Online access and widespread media proliferation have turned public attention away from printed newspapers.  While there is an eerie sense that the fall of newspapers in imminent, it’s nonetheless business as usual for newspaper advertisers clinging to tradition. Unfortunately though, the opportunities once present for smaller players, who could position their own small business ads to benefit from the big-box weekend presence are fewer in numbers than they once were.

Small papers, hosted by communities across the country, furnish regional opportunities for advertisers though, who use the smaller publications to target local business.  Advertising rates are less expensive than major metro area newspapers and publishers offer multi-placement deals that get advertisers into papers from neighboring communities, at discounted rates. Readers tune-in to local papers to follow community events and check schedules, so the shelf life for ads is longer than some other forms of marketing.

Value of Print

Forbes identifies tangibility, credibility and branding as three primary features keeping print advertising relevant for years to come.

The physical nature of a print ad, which can be kept on hand for months, provides an immediate advantage over the fleeting internet exposure dominating modern advertising.  Readers are automatically more engaged in the content of a print ad too, as opposed to “viewers” online, who spend seconds with each ad.

Credibility is higher for material committed to printed form than it is for clickable banners and ads, which lack the legitimacy of print ads.  Consumers have been exposed to print ads for decades, so they are comfortable features of daily life.  While the Internet is losing its mystery for more and more users, there is still a suspicious sense among surfers, compounded by endless pop-up ads and guerilla marketing tactics that overwhelm them. Even above-board advertisers are found guilty by association online, underscoring the importance of print options.

Small businesses find value in local print advertising, even though the playing field continues to shift online. While diverse approaches exist, we can expect print advertising to remain relevant well into the future.

This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23 @

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About Collaborative Post is happy to provide guest posting opportunities for small business owners. This article was created by one of our contributors.

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