Print Ads Run for a Month, Online Content Lives Forever

It amazes me that there are some business owners out there who still believe in paying for high-priced print advertisements, yet don’t see the value in creating a blog for their small business. Content marketing is the present and the future (for now). Whether you’re creating written content through a blog or e-newsletter, video-based content, or even simple audio-based content, it’s critical that you produce some sort of educational information for your target audience. Here are my top 4 reasons why you need to switch from traditional advertising strategies like developing print ads to more new marketing strategies like creating content.

Print Ads Run for a Month, Online Content Lives Forever

One of the biggest reasons for spending the time to develop a blog for your small business is the fact that the content you produce will live forever online. You create it once and 5 years from now someone may come across it and end up becoming a customer. Print ads usually run in the monthly flier/magazine and then they get tossed by readers. You spent time developing your ad and paid for the placement only to reap the benefits for one month. Even if you pay an agency like Catalyst Marketers to develop your blog articles, that content is yours and it lives forever. So even if the costs are the same or a little higher to create great online content, that content has the ability to educate readers and drive sales for years. Print ads are usually one and done. Where do you think you should be spending your time/money?

Print Ads Have Lost Effectiveness, Online Content is Thriving

Does this print ad entice you to buy Dunkin Donuts? For me, I breeze right by it when I see it in a newspaper that I’m reading. Even if I do take the time to read it, it doesn’t really entice me to go buy a smoothie. Does it entice you?

We have learned to ignore print ads, and many traditional forms of advertising for that matter. Now, if I’m new to an area and I’m looking for say, an organic cup of coffee, I’m probably going online to check out sites like Yelp or hit the blogs to find out if there are any great organic coffee shops in the local area. If I come across your blog where it explains where you purchase your organic coffee beans, how you make your coffee, what type of organic creams and sugars you use, then I’m probably going to swing by your store to try your product. Your blog has educated me on your process, as well as, organic coffee in general – an area I’m interested in. You have officially brought value to my life by providing me with great online content. Print ads simply cannot do that.

Print Ads Cannot Tell Your Story, Online Content Engages & Educates Customers

Print ads by nature are limited in the amount of space they offer you to tell your story. Guess what? The more room they have for you to put information into the ad, the more expensive the ad becomes. Most of the time, businesses can only include the most critical information: the offer, their tag line, and their address. That’s it, you’re done. No more space for you.

How do you expect to educate anyone about your business, your products and your services with such limited space? In today’s environment, consumers have an unlimited number of choices for almost anything you can imagine. The difference between purchasing one product over another is usually tied to some emotional reason. How can you evoke emotion from consumers through a print ad? You can’t.

Now, if you’re a salon and you produce “how to” videos for creating different hairstyles and target teenage girls, then you can really bring value to those girls lives. How often do young girls go over to their friends house to do each others hair? All the time. How about for big school dances, girls are always searching for new hairstyles. Now, through your videos, they can learn how to do it themselves. Your videos are now their go-to resources before all school dances. They now feel confident in their looks because they have professional looking hairstyles and your salon is responsible for that.

Talk about evoking an emotional attachment. Where do you think those girls are going to get their hair cut next? How about when they want to spend some big bucks on a hairstyle for prom? You better believe they are coming to your salon. All because you put your marketing budget to work on something valuable instead of wasting it on one and done print ads.

Print Ads Come with Boundaries, Online Content is Limited Only to Your Imagination

We’ve already explored some of the limitations that come with print ads, but just to get them all out in the open, let’s go through them again. Print ads are costly, they have limited reach, there is limited space available to you for telling your story, many people ignore them, and for those that do pay attention, they are only good for about a month before they are thrown away.

Online content is really only limited to your creativity. Have you ever considered running a radio show for your small business? Blog Talk Radio allows you to do that – FOR FREE. You can then archive your recordings to allow people to listen to them whenever and wherever. Those radio shows live forever online.

If you own a retail clothing boutique you can use video to broadcast your own fashion show. A fashion show that models the latest Spring clothing lines that you offer. If you own a restaurant, you can record one of your top chefs preparing one of your best dishes, just like the big guys do on TV. Through your video, people can now make these great recipes at home. You’ve brought value to their lives. Believe me, they are still going to go out to eat, but on days when they need to stay in, they can bring up your video and cook a great meal. You’re now responsible for feeding their family. Again, talk about evoking some emotions. Where do you think they are going to go out to eat the next time they want to do that? Exactly…


  1. Factually, I disagree. First on principle: all advertising, used wisely, should be considered in light of the business problem you need to solve. Online content is one of the options are are TV, outdoor, social media, print, newspaper, etc…

    And, this idea that print ads die after a month is silly. Part of print’s value has always been that magazines live forever in highly useful places (doctor’s offices, bathrooms, magazine racks, etc…). People save them and review them. Many magazines are purchased primarily for the advertisements (e.g. Cosmo, etc…).

    Further, online content is already sometimes transient and will become even more so as the web becomes increasingly cluttered. YouTube says that 120,000 HOURS of new video are posted WEEKLY. It is not possible for that to be hosted endlessly. Twitter starts deleting content links after only 3 to 4 weeks.

    So while I appreciate the enthusiasm, please stay within facts…

  2. Doug – Thanks for taking the time to read the blog AND post a comment. I really appreciate it.

    I think it’s good for business owners to see the other options that they have available to them when it comes to marketing their business. Ultimately, it’s up to them to decide what is generating the most return on their marketing investment. In my opinion, developing valuable/relevant online content and promoting it through free online social tools + a little creativity is the best way to thrive moving forward.

    I took a look at your site. It seems like you’re in the direct ad space and are partial to print ads. I can certainly see why you believe so strongly in print. Again, I think the market will ultimately decide. Perhaps, for some business, a combination of traditional marketing & new marketing is the solution. To your point, it all depends on the business problem that organizations are looking to solve.

    Thanks again for reading the post and taking time to leave a comment.


    Ryan Taft

  3. Ryan -

    Actually, my agency is in the business of using television to drive big retail action. That often starts with direct response television, but also includes online, in-store video, and DVD’s delivered in the mail. I just finished an article about online video for Target Marketing and recently did a webinar with BrightCove about video and social media.

    The advent of new media options is exciting. And, I experienced the DotCom advertising/marketing fantasyland followed by the DotCom crash. Many of the arguments I hear for new media have that same unreality.

    For example, social media advocates will claim that companies can replace brand advertising with social media and content media. Yet, they never mention that social media is a niche media. From my digging into the subject, it appears unlikely that more than 10% of any market will have enough social media activity to be “reachable via content” through that medium. Yes, 80% might have accounts. Only 40% are likely to have any activity. Only 20% are likely to be active. And, for your marketing goals, less than 10% will be paying attention.

    So where is the discussion about social media tiny impact on your consumers? It’s similar to radio where a big audience for a program is 8% in its markets. In part, we don’t have great research yet (what I noted above appears likely based on various studies, but people don’t appear to even be asking the research questions).

    So thanks for your return thoughts on my comments. Print isn’t actually my favorite form. Except there are times it’s extraordinarily important. So, thought I’d come to its defense. :-)

    On a topic I know much better, despite a massive advertiser “opinion surge” against TV, the truth is that traditional broadcast & cable TV is, today, growing in effectiveness as shown studies last year (JAR – 6/09, Deloitte-12/09). And the DVR has not decreased TV effectiveness and may have actually improved it. Yet new media excitement has caused these truths to be missed.

    One major concern I have is that clients aren’t giving serious consideration to the political and profit motivations for agencies to recommend social. Politically, agencies are making their names based on new media (it’s not nearly as demanding as TV).

    And consider the agency profit shift when you shift $200,000 from media spending to social. On $200,000 in media, at best the agency keeps $60,000.

    But when $200,000 is spent on social media, the agency keeps $180,000. That’s three times as much. Whatn an incentive for an agency to like social media.

  4. A big oops. For a guy with 2 math degrees, I sure blew the calculations.

    What I meant was that off of $200K in media, agency commission is no more than $30K. But shift that money to media, and the agency likely keeps 90% or $180K. That makes for SIX times the revenue and an even bigger incentive for the agency to recommend social media.

  5. Doug –

    I feel like we are in an episode of Mad Men. Based on your response above, I feel the need to mention that this blog is for Small Businesses. I’m not sure how many of them can create a Direct Response TV ad. DVDs delivered in the mail? Come on now. Do you really think that stuff works? Shame on you for misleading people.

    The profit margins you talk about couldn’t be more wrong. It shows that you don’t really understand what it takes to be successful in using content + social media. Social Media Marketing is a 24/7 job. That’s hours. Hours cost money. Also, a Social Media Marketing campaign should NEVER cost $200k. I know those are the costs that you’re used to charging clients for TV ads and direct mail, but now, with the advent of new media, those costs go away because we replace TV ads and direct mail with meaningful content that can actually teach a consumer something and we use FREE tools to promote that content to the WORLD. Yes, social networks are still in growth mode, but the people on them, using them, they are innovators, they ARE the people you want to be in front of as a small business.

    Perhaps you are out on the social media blog circuit to bash the effectiveness and push old technologies like TV, direct mail, and print. I’m not sure. It amazes me how people will fight so hard to save a dying industry instead of using that same energy and focus to evolve their offerings, strategies, etc.

    I appreciate you reading the blog. If you are going to continue to participate in the comments section, please simply keep in mind that this blog is intended to help small businesses. I don’t mind you sharing another perspective on how people can market their business, but please do not come in here pumping the same traditional marketing tactics that built Madison Avenue. Our readers can’t afford that stuff and quite frankly, many of them who I’ve talked to, know that it doesn’t work at all. Maybe for large corporations who sell products & services to the Masses can afford to waste money on TV and direct mail, but small business owners must be smarter with their money. Even without 2 math degrees, they know that TV + DIRECT MAIL + PRINT ADS doesn’t make “cents”.


    Ryan Taft

  6. Actually, when you calculate the ROI, DVD’s in the mail often far outperform e-programs. Because the attraction of e-programs is that the cost of entry is exceptionally low. But as a DR guy, we know to be careful not to confuse a low cost of entry with effectiveness.
    For small business, there is instructiveness in my comments on TV. Primarily, my advice is that small business become more realistic about media options. When something appears to be “free”, to remember that it may not be.
    Agreed on the intense hours need in social. But, what agency wouldn’t thrill at generating high billable hours (click, there’s 50% or higher profit in each hour) in trade for spending that money on media (where the profit is relatively tiny).
    Sadly, big agencies are charging $200K in social media campaigns – and much higher. As were the early days of the internet, so goes social media. What was the early cost of a website? 100′s of thousands. And today, major companies still spend millions on websites.
    The people on social aren’t always innovators or the respected recommenders. I’ve had good fortune to meet some of the highly active social media people for our client’s areas. Great people. And not always what your “innovator” label implies. There’s a lot of assumptions about social media enthusiasts…and “assume” means making an…
    To make this practical for your readers: You may not be able to afford some of what I discuss. But, do not mis-lead yourselves about social media. SoMe is a starting point for establishing and growing business. And appearing in print (whether by PR or by paid advertising) can carry much higher credibility than appearing social media.
    This is merely reality. And for more of that reality, you should read the new Twitter study that I tweeted about yesterday – showing the extremely low activity on most Twitter accounts.

  7. Thanks for your input Doug.


    Ryan Taft


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