Selecting the Right Advertising The pros and cons of each type of print advertising

By Kathy J. Kobliski

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q: I'd like to use print ads to advertise mybusiness, but I'm not sure which type to choose first. What arethe pros and cons of using newspapers, direct mail and Yellow Pagesads?

A: An ad in your local Yellow Pages is the first type ofadvertising you should purchase. It's necessary because itlends credibility to your business, assuring the public that yourcompany is not a fly-by-night outfit planning to grab a littlebusiness and get out of town. In my opinion, however, itdoesn't take a large display ad to establish that fact--alisting is just fine.

My personal bugaboo with the Yellow Pages is that it leadspotential customers to your competitors while they're lookingfor your number, and many of them will be big businesses with muchlarger ads than yours--a distinct disadvantage to small businesses.I advise my clients to purchase a listing or a small display ad inthe directory, but never to refer to it in other forms ofadvertising. In other words, we say the business can be found inthe White Pages, rather than point customers toward the YellowPages.

The newspaper also makes it easy for potential customers to tellhow large or small a business is by the size of its ad. Your littleone-eighth-page ad can run directly under a half-page ad or acrossfrom a full-page display, making it easy for readers to guess thesize of your company. You'll make a bigger splash in the moreaffordable weekly papers where you can run your ad by ZIP code,covering only the geographical areas you want or can afford. Yes,you can run in specific geographical areas using the"neighborhood" sections of your daily newspapers, butthey're still generally more expensive.

Newspapers are usually read more completely by the over-50segment of our population than by the younger folks who like to gettheir news from radio and television. Because of this, avoid usingsmall print in your ads. In fact, if the over-50 crowd is thedemographic you're trying to reach, use a slightly larger sizedfont in any form of print advertising you do.

Direct mail includes a lot of options, including single-piecemailings and the more affordable cooperative mailings such as CarolWright and Val-Pak. In a single-piece mailing, your letter orbrochure arrives by itself on the nicest paper with the number ofcolors you can afford and with text that's professional andcompelling. The pieces mailed in the cooperative envelopes are allthe same size, so no one company looks larger or more establishedthan any of the others. How do you decide which to do?

  • Your single direct-mail piece stands alone but is moreexpensive. The cooperative piece is crowded into an envelope withperhaps 60 other pieces, and the recipient must shuffle through theothers to get to yours, but it's a lot less expensive.
  • Your single piece can be mailed whenever you wish and as oftenas you please; the cooperative piece will be mailed in compliancewith a structured mailing calendar. These companies divide the ZIPcodes they service into a calendar year, mailing to selected areasin different months.

Print advertising provides you with a number of options. Justremember to choose the ones that best fit your business and willreach your target market.

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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