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: 178

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


Restaurants may feel the pinch of pricier coffee later this year

Prices for arabica coffee futures hit a 26-month high amid a drought in Brazil, which produces a third of the world's coffee  -More

McDonald's rules out all-day breakfast in push to simplify

McDonald's breakfast menu accounts for 25% of the chain's U.S.  -More

Easy ways to use 5 uncommon spring greens

As light, crisp greens arrive at farmers markets and grocery stores, chefs are finding creative ways to add them to spring me -More


Posting a job or finding a job starts here at FohBoh. Call us about special $25 posting packages to syndicate across all major jobs boards.

National News

National Restaurant Association Offers Training DVDs on Harassment Prevention, Social Media Use, and Customer Service

The National Restaurant Association has released three new DVDs that offer best practices in dealing with harassment and discrimination, customer service training, and the first of its kind video guide on the use of social media.

Yum! Brands Reports First-Quarter EPS Growth of 24% Excluding Special Items

China Division System Sales Increased 17% with Operating Profit Growth of 80%; Yum! Reaffirms Full-Year Guidance of at Lea

Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes Certified As Nation's Largest 'Green' Restaurant Chain

National Group Salutes Country's Only Large Restaurant Group to be 'Certified Green Restaurants®'

National Restaurant Association and EatStreet Release Online Ordering Guide

The National Restaurant Association and EatStreet have released a free educational guide focusing on online ordering and emerging restaurant technology trends.

Boyd's Coffee Launches Single-Cup Coffees For Retail And Foodservice

The coffees come in a variety of roast levels and include organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified™ options: French No. 6®, Red Wagon® Organic Coffee, Good Morning™, Hi-Rev® (delivers more caffeine), and Lost Lake™ Decaf Organic Coffee.


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: Hamish Jolly: A shark-deterrent wetsuit (and it's not what you think) - Hamish Jolly (2013)

Hamish Jolly, an ocean swimmer in Australia, wanted a wetsuit that would deter a curious shark from mistaking him for a potential source of nourishment. (Which, statistically, is rare, but certainly a fate worth avoiding.) Working with a team of scientists, he and his friends came up with a fresh approach — not a shark cage, not a suit of chain-mail, but a sleek suit that taps our growing understanding of shark vision.

TED: Michel Laberge: How synchronized hammer strikes could generate nuclear fusion - Michel Laberge (2014)

Our energy future depends on nuclear fusion, says Michel Laberge. The plasma physicist runs a small company with a big idea for a new type of nuclear reactor that could produce clean, cheap energy. His secret recipe? High speeds, scorching temperatures and crushing pressure. In this hopeful talk, he explains how nuclear fusion might be just around the corner.

TED: Sarah Lewis: Embrace the near win - Sarah Lewis (2014)

At her first museum job, art historian Sarah Lewis noticed something important about an artist she was studying: Not every artwork was a total masterpiece. She asks us to consider the role of the almost-failure, the near win, in our own lives. In our pursuit of success and mastery, is it actually our near wins that push us forward?

TED: Matthew Carter: My life in typefaces - Matthew Carter (2014)

Pick up a book, magazine or screen, and more than likely you'll come across some typography designed by Matthew Carter. In this charming talk, the man behind typefaces such as Verdana, Georgia and Bell Centennial (designed just for phone books -- remember them?), takes us on a spin through a career focused on the very last pixel of each letter of a font.

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service