Advertising on a Budget — Part 1: Using Print to Drive Traffic Online

PWC is an online resource guide for couples planning their
weddings. Along with a ton of information for brides and
grooms, the site includes a resource guide where local
businesses can advertise their products and services.

We launched PWC in November 2001. Like many start-up
businesses, PWC didn’t have much money for marketing.
Yet we had two major challenges (three counting the limited
budget):

1. PWC had to attract two kinds of target markets to the site
— advertisers and couples — essentially at the same time.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, we had to appeal to each
group even though one was dependent on the other —
advertisers wanted brides and grooms logging onto the
site, and brides and grooms wanted a complete resource
center.

2. Several bridal print publications had come and gone in
Prescott — and had burned their advertisers while racing out
of town. Businesses were understandably hesitant about
sinking their money into another bridal venture.

Armed with those challenges, we went to work. Now, just
over two years later, PWC enjoys well over 40,000 hits a
month and has increased its advertising base by over
600%. On top of that, PWC is well on its way to establishing
a reliable brand in not just Prescott but throughout Yavapai
County.

So how did we do it? A great Web site with great content (but
more on that in a later article) plus three main marketing
strategies:
1) Using print to drive traffic online
2) Thinking small
3) Frequency, frequency, frequency

I’ll cover number two and three in the next two articles. Today
we’ll talk about number one: Using print to drive traffic
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The cornerstone of PWC’s marketing program has been
print advertising, more specifically monthly advertising in the
local newspaper. Print advertising is an excellent choice for
many businesses — from small to large. In fact, it’s not
uncommon for small and medium-sized businesses to
build their advertising program around print.

The strength of print advertising is its flexibility. Print
publications come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They
can appeal to a broad readership or a narrow one. They can
be published every day or once a year. This variety gives you
a lot of flexibility in fitting print advertising into your
campaigns.

You can also track print to a certain extent (coupons in
newspapers for example). Print is physical, allowing your
customers to carry something around with them.

However, print’s weakness is also its strength. It’s a visual
medium only, so it requires more effort and interaction from
your audience to make an impact (they need to stop and
read it).

In the case of PWC, we chose monthly advertising in the
local paper as the foundation of our marketing program. We
decided upon the local newspaper because it has the
broadest reach. Prescott isn’t big enough to have its own
evening television news, so the newspaper is the best
vehicle for local news.

If you live in a big city, the local newspaper may not be
practical because of cost. In that case, you may want to try a
niche newspaper or magazine, like a business or lifestyle
journal, or maybe a regionalized newspaper. In Phoenix for
instance, the Arizona Republic is the main newspaper, but
all the cities around Phoenix, like Scottsdale and Tempe,
also have their own papers.

Because PWC is a Web site, there’s an assumption we
should be using only online methods to advertise. Online
methods are good, and PWC does use them, but they only
take you so far. Print is a part of the “real world” — something
you can touch and pick up, not virtual like a Web site. Print
has also been around a lot longer, and carries more trust
with it. We found by using print, some of that trust and “real
world” essence rubbed off, making PWC seem less
anonymous and more like a “bricks and mortar” business
(a business with a store front).

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