God bless trees: Print media, vanity and small business marketing

Darwin Life cover (Photo: Darwin Life)Amid all the interest and passion around various Social Media forms, it is useful to still consider how various traditional media channels might work for your marketing.

What prompted this reflection was a number of tweets and Facebook messages I have received over the past day or two, saying I had ‘made it’ because I was on the cover of Darwin Life magazine.

It is a timely reminder that even though online marketing tools are crucial for your business, there is something to be said for the physical footprint that print media offer.

Here are some things to consider.

Serendipitous discoveries

Much online material is crafted to appear or be found when a consumer goes searching for a particular product or service. This is very helpful and very powerful but it does have a downside.

If you only get exposed to what you think or know you want, how do you discover things you don’t know about?

Enter the magazine or newspaper. Admittedly, when it comes to surprise discoveries of people, products and places that you would never thought to have searched for, it does not matter whether your magazine or newspaper is online or printed.

However, if you didn’t know the online version existed, how would you find it?

This is where I believe there is still value for consumers, and businesses, in the newsagencies and magazine racks of our communities.

As you wander down these aisles, headlines and pictures jump out at you, things you weren’t expecting, and your world has a chance to embrace something new.

Unfortunately for you, I just happen to be one of those un-searched-for items that has just landed in your world, thanks to a cover picture on Darwin Life – I didn’t say the discoveries always had to be pretty 🙂

Tangible, persistent presence

One outcome of the fact that printing a magazine is an expensive venture is that it lends some authority to the matter that makes it into the final edition.

Talk (and pictures) is cheap online, which is a major part of its attraction, but our collective psyche still seems to grant more gravity to printed matter.

Indeed, the wonderfully flippant comments about ‘making it’ after making the cover of Darwin Life, speak directly to the special standing that print media is afforded. I actually had one unnamed NT friend comment that all I needed to do now was spot a UFO or water ski on a croc and I’d get the cover of NT News too! But I digress…

When I recall my journalism days in electronic media, I must note there is also something magical for people (all of us included) when we are ‘on the radio’ or ‘on the tele’. In fact, the more cynical among my media colleagues often dangled the offer of a few seconds of fame in return for free loot or as a thank you for helping the media outlet in some way. I think it is actually in relation to mass media where we see conclusive proof of the ultimate power of Vanity. ‘I’ll mention you on my Facebook page’ doesn’t quite have the same pulling power for many of us.

While tv and radio exposure can stir a frenzy of alerting friends so they don’t miss it, it is only an appearance in the paper or a magazine that results in a little collection of yellowing cuttings tucked away in photo albums and scrap books and presented to friends and self as proof that your life has made an impact outside your immediate circles.

So what does this mean to a small business marketer?

I think the take away point to this morning’s rambling is that when you think through your marketing strategy and your target markets and you contemplate the most effective ways of communicating with them, due diligence should be paid to traditional as well as online media options.

When money is tight, as is often the case for start ups and small businesses, online is the most natural path follow because most of it is free (you just invest your time). But, even in this case, clever, strategic use of the more expensive traditional media should be considered. Creating an ad that points to your online material or one that stops people in their tracks through an unexpected claim are just two ways you can make a little money go a long way.

At all times though, I believe throwing money at problems is never as effective as throwing creativity at them. And each medium offers different strengths for helping you promote your creative ideas.


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