How to achieve more through advertising

on 17 August, 2016

In previous blogs, I’ve looked at how builders’ merchants, suppliers and customers can get cleverer with marketing by harnessing the power of PR, social media and email.

Sometimes though, it’s worth spending that little bit extra on advertising to make a big splash. Here are a few essential tips on how to achieve more through advertising.

Get the message right

The key to any effective advertising campaign is to determine your objectives. Are you trying to increase footfall or raise awareness to support the efforts of your sales team? Or perhaps there’s a specific outcome you want from your audience, such as to request a brochure, visit a website or call for more info?

Find your style

Once you’ve agreed this, it’s time to involve a designer. There’s no point buying space in a magazine, only to fill it with words. You could achieve the same results from a well-written press release or feature article. The advantage of an ad is that it’s *your* space, which means you can use graphics and photography to bring your message to life.

Maybe you need a ‘hero’ shot of one of your products or projects, a focus on people to highlight your values and services, or something more abstract to capture people’s imagination. There’s no set formula and a good designer will provide you with a number of options.

Choose your size and frequency

Good advertising is all about impact. A small, one-off advert is unlikely to do much, so it’s a matter of balancing your priorities by choosing what size and frequency you want to run.

If you have a bold design with an attention-grabbing message, it pays to think big with a full-page ad. If your message is subtler or more nuanced, you might find it makes sense to drip-feed a campaign over several issues so it really sinks in.

Don’t forget the classifieds. While back-of-the-mag adverts are small, you can usually guarantee year-round coverage for long-term brand awareness.

Plan effectively

All trade publications issue an annual features list, helping you to establish the best issues to appear in. If you’re a supplier in a particular field, there should be around two-three issues every year where it is a no-brainer to focus attention and budget.

Check if a magazine publishes any special annual supplements or handbooks. These tend to stay on the desks of key influencers all year around, so it’s a brilliant way to maximise the reach from your advertising budget.

Think digital

Advertising doesn’t only mean taking out a print ad on the page. Website ads can provide a strong means of raising awareness, especially if you have a digital-savvy audience who are likely to look for information online.

Online ads are particularly useful for short-term tactical campaigns. If you have a new product launch, or you’re hoping to increase footfall on your stand at a trade exhibition, consider a three-monthly blast of banner advertising.

Are you listening? (…or watching?)

That’s trade publications covered. Of course, when it comes to increasing passing trade in a branch, you’ll want to extend your reach to the general public too.

So think beyond magazines and websites. Radio is a strong way of getting yourself heard locally – a friendly voiceover and a catchy jingle can do wonders for your awareness. Or with the huge explosion in digital TV, you can find specialist channels – such as DIY or home improvements – that will hit your target audiences.

Again, the above rules apply to deciding your messages, creating your ads and getting them placed effectively. Always check the small print of a broadcast ad campaign – when exactly will your ads appear? If it’s the middle of the night, then their effectiveness will be significantly reduced.


If you’re spending on advertising, you’ll want to see a return on that investment. You might think that it’s hard to attribute the success of a campaign to an ad on a page, but there are ways you can connect the two if you plan properly.

By giving your ads a strong – and, more importantly, unique – call to action, you’ll have a tangible proof for how many people have acted from seeing your ad. That might mean directing people to visit a dedicated landing page on your website, ringing a trackable phone number that you’re not using for any other purpose, or providing a code (for example, to take advantage of a special offer).

For digital ads, it’s even easier. You can use all of the methods above, with the added advantage that anybody clicking on the ad will be directed to your website, so you’ll be able to check your Google Analytics to see how many visitors you’ve had from the website in question. These days, the line between print and digital is blurring. Often, a physical magazine will also be available online, where even ‘print’ ads can become clickable.

Follow the above rules, and you should find you’re spending smarter and getting better returns from your advertising.

Simon Kinnear is director of Communications at Balls2 Marketing.

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