Online vs print advertising – which one is best for your business?

Getting the marketing mix just right is one of the biggest challenges small businesses face.
It’s often a case of trial and error and learning along the way. When budgets are very lean, it can be difficult to know when and where to spend or whether to opt for some DIY PR (Public Relations) or free networking instead. This is especially true when it comes to advertising.
There are some firms which refuse to pay for advertising – going down the route of paying a PR retainer to keep them in the papers instead. And, for some, PR is so alien that they prefer to stick to traditional advertising – a tried and trusted method of promoting their business. Or is it?
Well, the good news is that it can be. It’s another very effective tool of marketing and can be used successfully in conjunction with PR, or however else you choose to market your business. Sales savvy companies will use a combination of print and online advertising to give them the widest reach possible for their investment. But, when you have to choose to keep costs to a minimum, what are the advantages of using one over the other?
Naturally, each one has its pros and cons, but here we look at how online advertising could be a much safer bet for dipping your toe in the water and spending a little before you spend a lot.

Ten reasons why online advertising knocks the socks off of print

  • One website ad has the potential to reach stakeholders (which could mean potential partners, investors, suppliers, buyers or consumers) anywhere in the world, whereas print ads are often restricted to one title in a specific geographic location.
  • Online ads exist and appear for the lifetime of the internet – ready to be found by browsers at any point – unlike print ads which will line tomorrow’s waste paper bin. Print and distribution costs can limit the reach of print publications and therefore the scope of their ads.
  • Online advertising tends to be cheaper than offline – simply because websites and online magazines have fewer overheads and are not held to ransom by print and distribution costs they have to cover. Online advertisers, such as Facebook and Twitter, also allow businesses to set spending limits on ads – helping you to stay within budget and give things a little boost as and when you can. Just make sure you are not paying per click, which can work out more expensive.
  • Online ads have more flexibility for you to change and update the content, look and links in line with your current campaign – often very quickly and at no extra cost.
  • As with print advertising, online advertising often comes with the option to include or supply supporting editorial on your business and its offering – which is great for making you more visible to search engines and gives you sharable content for social media and to link to on your website. Again, it’s there for the lifetime of the internet and can be found at any point. While someone might not need your services today, there’s a fair chance they will at some point down the line and half the battle is being seen at the right time. If you get this opportunity within any advertising medium, DO take it up. It’s one of the best things you can do for your business since quality editorial carries a lot of credibility.
  • An online ad links directly to your website and social media accounts, enabling the reader to engage directly with your products and services rather than having to go and look them up. It’s a great ‘call to action’ and can translate to instant contact, sales and followers.
  • Online advertising is completely trackable, whereas print is not. Once you have placed your ad in the paper, you have no idea who has seen it, circled it or looked up your website based on it. Just add a tracking code to the link back to your website and hey presto, you can instantly monitor its performance and find out more about the audience you’re targeting. You’ll be able to tell after a few months whether it’s working and who’s clicking through to your website and when.
  • Your creative license is much broader when advertising on line as the possibilities are literally endless. What you can’t afford in print, you can do bigger online where the colours tend to be more vibrant and where you can include video and interactive features.
  • The world is changing and pretty soon the majority of content we consume will be by video. Only online can you broadcast what would otherwise cost you a fortune on the TV. Not only that, but if you’re message goes viral, you’ve got it made. Needless to say, print is static and pretty much a one-way street.
  • Unlike print ads, online promotions are more readily shared and can resurface over and over again – simply because they are attached to content, on which people are commenting and sharing.
Not convinced? Here’s some further reading…
Online vs print advertising: Why print is losing 
Digital vs print: Which is better for you?
Why internet marketing is better than print advertising 

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