How Often Do I Change My Print Ad?

Three questions to ask before making any adjustments

By Kathy J. Kobliski

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q: Is there a rule of thumb for how long you should run anew print ad in a magazine? My client wants to change ads every twomonths, and I have advised him to let the ads run for three to fourmonths before we change them. We will maintain a similar look andfeel, just change copy and colors (blue and yellow, blue and green,etc.).

A: As with most questions about advertising, the answerstarts with "it depends." Ask yourself the followingthree questions:

1. How often is the magazine published-weekly, monthly orquarterly? If the magazine is published on a monthly orquarterly basis, there is a real lag time between issues.Publications "hang around" until the next issue shows up(weekly publications stay put for a week; monthly publications stayfor a month) but that does not necessarily mean they get read moreoften than a newspaper that gets tossed daily. Certainly less thana publication like TV Guide that tends to get picked upconstantly.

There's no guide to help you make this decision as there isin radio and TV, where you have "numbers" that indicatewhere your audience can be found. Instead, publications offer"circulation" figures, which only reveal how many copiesare delivered to homes or purchased on the stand, not how manypeople read each copy.

2. What geographical territory does the magazine cover?How many locations do you have, and where do they fit in to themagazine's circulation areas? Many national magazines have"local" sections, which means you can run your ad in,say, the Northeast or Southwest section of the country instead ofpaying for unnecessary nationwide coverage. This allows you tonarrow the focus of your advertising dollars and still use apublication that can bring instant credibility to your business,whether you have one or several locations within that region. Youmay have flipped through a copy of Time or Newsweekand found an ad for a jeweler or clothier in your town and thought,"Wow!" It's impressive, and worth the money even fora single location.

3. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you a brand-newbusiness that needs to build name awareness from ground zero? Orare you well-known in the territory the magazine covers? Ifyou're new, you should not switch the copy with every ad beforeyou give readers a chance to get a general sense of your overallbusiness, where an established business can successfully run newbody text in each issue. In either case, you need to develop adesign template for your print ads that will be easily recognizedand recalled, and then continually work within that structure formaximum impact.

Change colors only where it will not take away from the overallrecognition factor of the ad. Consistent use of color can be aneffective way to make your design memorable, so if color is anintegral part of your logo or background, I wouldn't mess withthat. I would only recommend that you vary them if the integrity ofyour original design does not depend on color. You can do thatperhaps by changing colored flags in the upper left corner of theads to signal a new product or "deal," or in a couponsection of the ad.

So the answer to your question "depends" on youranswers to these questions. Know what they are before youbuy.

Kathy Kobliski is the founder and president of Silent PartnerAdvertising, where she oversees multimedia advertising budgets forretail and service clients. Her book, Advertising Without an Agency, was written forbusinesses owners who are working with small advertising budgetsand can't afford professional help. You can reach Kathy via herwebsite at

The opinions expressed in this column arethose of the author, not of All answers areintended to be general in nature, without regard to specificgeographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied uponafter consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney oraccountant.

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