If you haven't done it yet, prepare a press release for all the local newspapers in your area. When it comes to actually placing your classified ads avoid your larger metropolitan newspapers. Classified advertising in large newspapers is fruitless for a small business owner unless you happen to rent or sell real estate.
The smaller weekly, bi-weekly or monthly papers are usually easier to work with and cheaper to advertise in. If your business specializes in a particular niche look for specialty newspapers. For instance, some cities have newspapers that targets senior citizens. Another example might be one that specifically appeals to women.
Prepare a list of all the newspapers that you feel would be a good resource for your business. Your first step should be to call or visit each of them and request a “media kit.” What you receive can vary from a single page “rate sheet” to an elaborate portfolio.
Expect the receptionist to attempt to turn you over to a sales rep. Try and avoid speaking to the sales person, but the “gatekeepers” are usually very well trained and will make every attempt to have you speak with a sales person. Whatever happens, do not place any advertising at this point. You are on a fact finding mission only.
Review the material in the media kit. At the very least you should receive a copy of the publication, a rate sheet and a list of upcoming seasonal specials. You may very well receive two separate rate sheets. One will be for “classified ads” and the other will be for “display” ads.
Once you have reviewed all the material you’ve gathered, create a new list of those publications that meet your criteria. One thing to note is the difference in rates between classified and display advertising. Display advertising rates are substantially higher.
Once you have your list ready, call and ask to speak to the sales rep that covers your area. The sales rep wants your advertising and will do whatever is necessary to get it. Their job is to sell ads but a good rep will take the time to help you put together an ad campaign that will meet your budget and expectations.
Negotiate with the sales rep to have your press release run concurrent with a paid display ad. It needn't be a huge ad, just make sure that they are both on the same page and it's large enough to be noticed.
Make a deal for a 12 or 16 week run of a smaller display ad. That will give you "leverage" with the sales rep and they will see you as a potentially serious advertiser, generating substantial ad revenue in the future.
You probably won't be able to get your ad "above the fold" but try. If you are given a choice of below the fold outside or above the fold inside, take below the fold. If they know what they are doing, they won't put ads above the fold anyway.
Pick up any print media and you will see that text is usually above the fold. Ads run from left to right and right to left depending on the page. If you begin at the outside edge of the page to the center (whether it's the left page or the right), the ads will generally be tiered like a pyramid from outside to center sloping downward.
We read from left to right. So if you are on the left side of the paper, you want your ad to be seen first, BEFORE the eyes read the text to follow.
If you are on the right side of the paper, you want to be the last thing they see at the end of a line. So outside is always best. Outside ad placement is reserved for larger sales and are almost always read.
Always ask about “seasonal” specials. Most publications have one or several special inserts or, in some cases, entire issues that are published during specific seasons.
Keep these tips in mind and you should be on your way to successful newspaper advertising!