Clients ask me all the time about newspaper advertising. Should we do it? How often? How large should my ad be? The answer used to be simpler. Today, however, I am more and more disinclined to recommend newspaper advertising not only to my restaurant clients, but all clients--unless they have the budgets to do it right.

The fact is, newspaper readership has been on the decline for years now, and now with the proliferation of 24 hour news networks and the Internet, that decline will only continue. To compensate for declines in subscription rates, newspapers have had to rely on increases in advertising rates to stay profitable. In the Tampa Bay area, for example, BOTH major dailies, the Tampa Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times have become so desperate that they have trimmed an entire column inch from the width of the paper due to paper costs and declining ad revenues!

Beyond that, I believe that newspaper is an ineffective medium for a number of other very simple reasons beyond cost.

Studies have shown that newspaper readership in consumers under the age of 54 continues to decline, and the percentages shrink the younger you go. Furthermore study by R&I showed that high income households ($75k+) rely on word of mouth or recommendations from friends and reviews, not newspapers. Unless your sales rep can prove that his/her publication is blanketing your demographic, you're getting a lot of reach in regard to circulation, but you're giving an awful lot up to waste.

I read the newspper every day, cover to cover. But I could not tell you a single ad that I can recall from the past week, even today. That's because newspapers are cluttered with small space advertising that no one can see. The reason for so many small ads is because that's all anyone can afford! The only way to do newspaper advertising well, in my opinion, is to do it big. You don't have to do a whole page, but to stand out, you need to be the big dog on the page. If you're convinced that print advertising is essential to your media mix--and for some it may be, I don't deny that--suck it up and run fewer but larger ads. The chances of your ad being seen and recalled will be greatly enhanced.

I'll make this simple and quick. Newspapers charge a premium for color printing. Because there are fewer advertisers, color charges are higher than ever--in some cases more than the charge for space itself. But here's an even bigger point: Most resraurants fail to invest in food photography that creates any sense of appetite appeal. Take an average quality photo of a dish, convert it to black and white and print it on the cheapest paper this side of a public rest area with the cheapest ink and what do you get. BLECH! You'd better have one heck of a price point to sell that piece of black and white steak.

I've already made my statement on discounts in other areas of the site, but in case you've missed it, brands that rely on constant discounts and coupons for anything other than promotions or to encourage one time sampling are cutting of their nose despite their face. Consumers become so accustomed to seeing coupons that it gets in the back of their mind that, unless something's on sale, there's absolutely no reason to go to your restaurant. For instance, we were working with a chain of steak houses. They have been running the same advertising in the same spot in the same newspapers for years. We recommended a change, a suggestion which the client quickly rebuked saying, "We stopped once, and our sales plummeted. We're never doing that again." Proved him right, right? No. If he hadn't turned a deaf ear, he might have really heard what this told him. What consumers were really telling him was a) your product isn't worth your every day price, b) we care more about your discount than we do about your food. You can create excitement without it being about price. You can offer a menu feature for a limited time at a certain price. To learn what works, watch the big boys.

Okay by now I'm sure I've come across as really anti-newspaper. But not entirely. Understand that most of my experience in planning and placing media for my clients has been in larger markets. But in hometown America, the local newspaper is still extremely relevant. My mother, who lives in Venice, FL, relies on her local paper because she'd never see anything about her town in Sarasota's paper, let alone on the TV news. Smaller papers can also be a lot easier to negotiate with, and may even be able to throw in a review or an article about your restaurant with a long term contract. The readers will never know it was part of a deal! But in a bigger town where "journalistic integrity" is the watchword, forget it.

Some Tips
If you believe that newspaper is an effective medium for you--and I said that it may be!--or if you are thinking about it, here are some tips:
- Avoid publications with unpaid circulations. Weekly entertainment rags may sound appealing for the price, but the figures they give you are not circulation, but distribution. Why pay a rate for distribution when you have no idea how many copies of those 90,000 papers were actually read?
- Control the placement of your ad. Demand that your rep guarantee page three or page five of the section you're in (near the top if you can get it). You may pay a premium, but your ad will have a better chance of being seen.
- Ask for free stuff. If you're committed to spending thousands of dollars, shouldn't they be giving you something for free? And don't believe 'em when they say they can't do it. Which leads me to my last point...
- Don't believe everything your sales rep tells you.

Tags: advertising, marketing, media, newspaper

Views: 179

Replies to This Discussion

Agreed re: yellow pages! Waste of money!
I would agree with you in that Newspaper Advertising is a double-edge sword. I've seen it work incredibly well in Columbus, Ohio when two competing restaurants right across the street from each other (Ryan's / Golden Corral) were going at each other hard, and Golden Corral had the edge because they advertised and put 4-color coupons in the paper. But that's an extreme situation when fighting for the customer's dollar with virtually the same product.

In almost every community, I believe a local store marketing program would probably be much more effective than advertising within the community, and certainly far cheaper. It actually allows you to contact your clientele in person and tailor your message to them, rather than publishing something en masse. And if you're directly targeting your local audience, it's likely you'll get better results than taking out space in the paper for something that your audience might not even see.






Social Wine Club for Craft Wineries


Fast-casual growth comes from new openings as market matures

Sales at fast-casual eateries are growing at a pace similar to that of quickservice and sit-down restaurants as young, high-i -More

Taylor® Grills. Cooking made Easier, Faster, and Smarter.
With efficiency and food safety top of mind, the Taylor® L810 two-sided grill is a foodservice industry favorite. Optimize profits and cooking efficiency with three separately controlled cooking zones, programmable cook times, pre-set temperature and automatic gap settings. To learn more click here.

In the swim: Gulf state seafood catch safe for now

Businesses fighting to preserve commercial access to seafood fished in the Gulf states scored a big win this month when the G -More

Ruby Tuesday revitalization prompts sales growth

Maryville, Tenn.-based Ruby Tuesday posted gains in same-store sales in the fourth quarter, with a 5% rise at franchised rest -More


Posting a job or finding a job starts here at FohBoh. Call us about special $50 posting packages to syndicate across all major jobs boards.

National News

Main Event Entertainment to Open First Center in the Rio Grande Valley

Main Event Entertainment, the fastest-growing family entertainment center in America, is celebrating its new center opening in Pharr, Texas, a suburb near McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley. Doors will open to the public at 9 a.m. on August 6.

Darden Announces Leadership Succession Plan

Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) announced that Clarence Otis is stepping down as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Company. Darden's Board of Directors has appointed the Company's current Independent Lead Director, Charles A. Ledsinger, Jr., as Independent Non-Executive Chairman of the Board, effective immediately. The Company also announced that it has amended its corporate governance policies to provide for the separation of the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer roles.

National Restaurant Association Statement on NLRB Joint Employer Decision

Today the National Restaurant Association issued the following statement regarding the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) decision asserting McDonald’s Corporation is a joint employer of its franchisees:

National Restaurant Association Issues Support for Clearer ACA Definition of Seasonal Employment

The bipartisan legislation will align the definitions of seasonal employment in the Affordable Care Act and streamline the applicable large employer determination process.

Rising India, Inc. Announces Acquisition Strategy Toward a Sizable Slice of the QSR Pizza Pie

Rising India, Inc. (OTC: RSII), announces today it will immediately begin work toward the acquisition of up to 5 profitable stores in the popular Quick Serve Pizza Restaurant segment. Current targets are currently earning about $450,000 in revenues per year, per store. Acquisition of targets would provide immediate cash flow identified from profitable longstanding, absentee owner operations with proven model success.


If you are looking for capital to start or grow your restaurant, create the next 501c3, develop and launch the next app for the restaurant industry,or want to help your peers in some meaningful way, we want to know about it.


TED: Ze Frank: Are you human? - Ze Frank (2014)

Have you ever wondered: Am I a human being? Ze Frank suggests a series of simple questions that will determine this. Please relax and follow the prompts. Let's begin …

TED: Heather Barnett: What humans can learn from semi-intelligent slime - Heather Barnett (2014)

Inspired by biological design and self-organizing systems, artist Heather Barnett co-creates with physarum polycephalum, a eukaryotic microorganism that lives in cool, moist areas. What can people learn from the semi-intelligent slime mold? Watch this talk to find out.

TED: Shih Chieh Huang: Sculptures that’d be at home in the deep sea - Shih Chieh Huang (2014)

When he was young, artist Shih Chieh Huang loved taking toys apart and perusing the aisles of night markets in Taiwan for unexpected objects. Today, this TED Fellow creates madcap sculptures that seem to have a life of their own—with eyes that blink, tentacles that unfurl and parts that light up like bioluminescent sea creatures.

TED: Nikolai Begg: A tool to fix one of the most dangerous moments in surgery - Nikolai Begg (2013)

Surgeons are required every day to puncture human skin before procedures — with the risk of damaging what's on the other side. In a fascinating talk, find out how mechanical engineer Nikolai Begg is using physics to update an important medical device, called the trocar, and improve one of the most dangerous moments in many common surgeries.

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service