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


Kids LiveWell atwitter over Twitter party

In its continuing effort to promote more nutritious and flavorful children's menu options, the NRA will hold a Twitter party  -More

Starbucks could become top on-premise wine seller in U.S.

Starbucks is planning to slowly expand its evening sales of wine, beer and small plates to thousands of selected stores throu -More

The evolving nature of snacks

Snacks have shifted from an after-school treat to a meal alternative as meal times become more fragmented.  -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

Wahlburgers Announces Expansion Plans Including Franchise Agreement in Philadelphia

Wahlburgers has signed a franchise agreement with Hingham Associates, LLC that will bring five Wahlburgers to the metropolitan Philadelphia area over the next several years. The franchise group is actively looking at sites and is targeting a late 2014-early 2015 opening for its first restaurant.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. First Quarter 2014 Revenue Up 24.4%

Comparable restaurant sales increased 13.4% - Restaurant level operating margin was 25.9%, a decrease of 40 basis points

Jamba Juice Announces Grand Opening of New St. Louis, MO Location

Jamba Juice Company announced the brand’s continued expansion in the St. Louis market with the opening of a Jamba Juice® store at 11477 Olive Blvd. on April 16, 2014.

Expert in Real Estate Analytics Joins Luna Grill

Luna Grill, the San Diego-based Mediterranean restaurant chain, is welcoming retail real estate industry veteran Greg Thorburn to its leadership team. Thorburn has been brought on board to fill the newly created position of Vice-President of Real Estate.

Rita's Italian Ice Awards Area Development Agreement for Kansas

Rita's Italian Ice has awarded franchise and area development agreements for Kansas and the Kansas City area, which extends to the Missouri side of the city, to franchisees and local residents Jay Miller, Jeff Miller and Pat Reilly.


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: 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.

TED: Jeremy Kasdin: The flower-shaped starshade that might help us detect Earth-like planets - Jeremy Kasdin (2014)

Astronomers believe that every star in the galaxy has a planet, one fifth of which might harbor life. Only we haven't seen any of them -- yet. Jeremy Kasdin and his team are looking to change that with the design and engineering of an extraordinary piece of equipment: a flower petal-shaped "starshade" that allows a telescope to photograph planets from 50,000 kilometers away. It is, he says, the "coolest possible science."

TED: Norman Spack: How I help transgender teens become who they want to be - Norman Spack (2013)

Puberty is an awkward time for just about everybody, but for transgender teens it can be a nightmare, as they grow overnight into bodies they aren't comfortable with. In a heartfelt talk, endocrinologist Norman Spack tells a personal story of how he became one of the few doctors in the US to treat minors with hormone replacement therapy. By staving off the effects of puberty, Spack gives trans teens the time they need. (Filmed at TEDxBeaconStreet.)

TED: Jennifer Senior: For parents, happiness is a very high bar - Jennifer Senior (2014)

The parenting section of the bookstore is overwhelming—it's "a giant, candy-colored monument to our collective panic," as writer Jennifer Senior puts it. Why is parenthood filled with so much anxiety? Because the goal of modern, middle-class parents—to raise happy children—is so elusive. In this honest talk, she offers some kinder and more achievable aims.

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service