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Basic Tanning Certification
Indoor Salon Certification
Regulatory Information
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Salon Operations & Procedures Course Chapters

Salon Management
Hiring and Training Employees
Understanding Customer Behavior
Customer Relations
Operating Costs and Revenues

Selling Services and Products

Advertising, Marketing and Promotions
Creating an Image
Yellow Pages Advertising
Ten Steps to Profitable Print Advertising

Chapter 10: Ten Steps to Profitable Print Advertising

What's black and white and read all over? According to the Newspaper Advertising Bureau, retailers hope the answer is "my newspaper ad."

If you're like most small business owners, each year you spend the largest chunk of your advertising budget on newspapers. With that kind of investment, every ad you create should do double duty: sell tanning services and build your salon's positive image., You won't win customers by boring them into buying. You've got to create a desire. A few simple pointers from experts will show you how to use newspapers to get those maximum results, without a Madison Avenue budget.

Step 1: Set A Budget

There are many tried-and-true techniques for deciding on an advertising budget. Yet many small businesses fall into the trap of spending "all we can afford" or "as much as our competition."

This can get a salon in trouble, because its budget should be based on goals for the coming year and what the project sales will be. Experts say the fixed percentage of sales budget is most widely used. As a rule of thumb, experts recommend spending 10 percent of gross sales the first year in business, 7 percent the second year, and never less than 5 percent a year after that. Base the figure on predicted future sales, using your knowledge of your average annual sales.

Step 2: Plan Your Campaign

The most successful advertisers are not capricious ad-by-ad makers. They're consistent ad campaigners. If you're constantly changing direction, the audience won't recognize you. Plan your ads six to 12 months in advance to deliver a central selling message and consistent look that build customer confidence.

Start by clipping a few ads run by other local salons. Studying your competitors will help you discover your shop's "unique selling proposition." As you look at the ads, ask yourself "What do I offer that the others don't?" That aspect can become the focus of your campaign.

Next, define your store image. What kind of services do you provide? Do you specialize in tanning? Or do you offer a full range of beauty services? Remember, the image projected in your ads must match the reality customers see when they walk in the door.

Finally, think about your customers. What is their gender, age, education level and income? This will be your target audience.

Write down these answers and keep them handy. You'll use them in creating ads and in choosing newspapers.

Step 3: Find Inexpensive Help

Unless you spend more than $10,000 a year on advertising, the experts say, you probably don't need an advertising agency. But professional help with writing and art can make your ad stand out from the "home-grown" variety often seen in local papers. What's a budget-conscious salon owner to do?

Experts recommend staying away from newspaper advertising departments. Avoid them like the plague and your ad will look just like all the other ads in the paper.

Freelance help is a better choice. Freelance writers and artists work on a per-project basis at a fraction of what you would pay for an agency. You can sometimes find these independents just by checking the Yellow Pages, but chances are you'll have to look a little harder. A few sources to try:

  • Local advertising clubs or trade associations
  • Your chamber of commerce
  • The advertising, journalism, or art department at a local college
  • Local printers

Adweek magazine, published nationally in regional editions, includes a weekly directory of freelancers

Most freelancers will be happy to visit your office and provide a free portfolio showing. Find out their fee and look at work they've done for others. Do you like what you see? Have they worked for other tanning salons? Also ask what results the ads had for clients. And before any work begins, get a written agreement specifying what services the writer or artist will provide, delivery dates, and the fee you will pay.

Step 4: Write Customer-Oriented Copy

Even if you hire a freelancer, knowing what goes into good copy is an essential part of successful advertising.

Copy needs to emphasize benefits, not features. A feature is what the service is or what it does. A benefit tells customers what's in it for them. State your offer in clear terms. Appeal to your target audience's desire for style, status, popularity, savings and fun. Tell them how your services will make their lives better.

Spend at least as long working on the headline as you do on the body copy. The headline and illustration have to work together-combined they are about 60 percent to 75 percent of the ad's effectiveness.

Your headline should not tease the reader. Don't say, "Looking for the ultimate in tanning?" Say, "Enjoy a summer tan year-round. Open 7 days!" Remember, your purpose is to bring customers into your store, not to entertain.

Our panel of advertising experts also offered these points to remember in writing good copy:

Use your unique selling proposition. Throughout your campaign, emphasize the one thing you want customers to know about your shop-price, quality, selection or convenience: "Five locations to serve you," "Your complete tanning headquarters." Remember your target audience. Write your ad as if addressing one customer. Use the word "you." Call your prospects by name: "College students ... Ask about our special discounts."

Pick the right services to advertise. The Newspaper Advertising Bureau suggests these guidelines: your most profitable services, "hot" or trendy services, your best values, services with new value, and services typical of your salon.

Decide on one goal for each ad and make sure every word in the ad reinforces that goal. Use short paragraphs, sentences, words.

Be specific. Don't say, "Low prices," say "Tanning from $5 a session." Use proven "magic" words and phrases as high-impact, reader-stoppers. Try to get them into the headline: Free, New, You, Love, Results, Announcing, Save, 50% Off, For a Limited Time Only.

Don't forget the basics. Include your salon name, location, phone number, hours, credit cards accepted and dates of the sale.

Close the deal. Tell the reader to act now with a call to action: "Call today for your appointment," or "Stop in this week and ask for your free gift."

Step 5: Use Design To Reflect Your Image

You've decided on a central message and copy, now it's time to design the selling package. All your ads should have a consistent "family" look-the same ad size, typeface, basic layout and illustration style.

Repetition is reputation and having a consistent tone of voice and graphic look will build audience recognition. It becomes your business' signature.

For great looks on a budget, experts recommend hiring an artist to create one "shell" ad. Have the artist select a type style and border, and show where the headline, illustration, copy and logo will be. For future ads, you simply write your headline and copy, and drop in the appropriate illustration.

Experts offered these design tips to present your salon at its best.

  • Select an unusual border and use it for every ad. Borders add impact even to tiny ads, and give your business instant recognition.
  • Save money on borders and other illustrations by using "clip art." Available at local art supply or book stores, "clip art" books contain copyright- free designs that you cut out and drop into your layout.

  • Limit yourself to one typeface for the headline and one for body copy. Use boldface or larger type for emphasis, not another type style. Having too many typefaces is like mismatching clothes, plaid with stripes and dots. Is that the image you want to send out?
  • Make it readable. Don't use type smaller than that used by the newspaper. Don't put type over your illustration and avoid "reverse" type, white type on a dark background.
  • Because newspapers are printed on rough paper, photos generally don't reproduce well. If you do use a photo, ask the newspaper's photo department for tips on how to get the best reproduction in their paper.
  • Leave enough white space so the ad looks clean and balanced.

Step 6: Choose A Newspaper

Most towns today have a flurry of newsprint vying for your advertising dollar-metropolitan newspapers, local papers, campus papers or weekly papers. What's the best choice?

The first thing to consider is reach-the number of people in your target audience who read the paper. Your ad rep should be able to provide you with circulation statistics broken down by gender, age, income and other demographics. Look for papers that reach the largest number of people in your target audience.

The next point to consider is price. Newspaper space is measured in inches per column or lines per column. An inch equals 14 lines, so you can easily convert line rates to inch rates for comparison. A simple "cost per thousand" or "CPM" formula can tell you how much it costs to have your ad seen by 1,000 people in each paper.

CPM equals the cost of an ad divided by the newspaper's circulation in thousands. For example, if you buy a $200 ad in a newspaper with a circulation of 20,000, your CPM would be 200 divided by 20, or $10. It costs you $10 to reach 1,000 people in that paper.

On the other hand, if you buy a $300 ad in a paper with a circulation of 50,000, your CPM would be $6, a much better deal. Compute the CPM for each paper you consider and you'll easily see which is the best bargain. But remember, an inexpensive ad in a newspaper that reaches few people in your target audience is no bargain.

Finally, ask about special discounts. Many metropolitan newspapers publish separate zone editions for different zip codes or areas of the city. By advertising in a zone edition, you reach the readers of a major metropolitan paper in your area at a fraction of the normal cost. Some newspapers also offer large discounts if you sign a contract to buy a certain number of inches or lines per year.

Step 7: Decide When To Advertise

Follow these guidelines for picking your best day to advertise: Avoid the clutter days, when your ad will get lost in the shuffle. Wednesday is traditionally "food store day"; Friday is usually crowded with entertainment ads.

Thursday is the traditional "retail day," a good day to catch shoppers getting ready for weekend spending. Sunday is good because people take more time for a leisurely read of the paper and the ads.

Also consider advertising on days of the week your business is heaviest, payroll days of important local businesses, and just before holidays and local events, such as school proms or reunions, that might put consumers in the market for tanning services.

Step 8: Choose Frequency Over Size

Experts say frequency is one of the most important elements of successful advertising. "Frequency" means the number of times your target audience has an opportunity to see your advertising message.

Experts agree that the average person sees 2,700 advertising messages a day, and they won't make a decision based on one or two ads. However, most small businesses run an ad for two months and give up because nothing happens.

Generally, it will take three or four months of consistent advertising before you'll see a significant change in sales. Why? Nine out of 10 people who see your ad this week might not be interested in buying tanning services this week. You'll get that one customer in 10 with a good ad, but you need to advertise frequently enough so that when the other nine are in the market for your services, they think of you first.

You have to get a `share of mind' and that will lead to a larger `share of market'. Advertise a minimum of once weekly to make an impact. The good news? Size is not nearly as important as frequency. Unless you want to announce a grand opening or other major event, you never have to buy a full-page ad. Run lots of quarter-page or smaller ads and you'll make an impact without blowing your budget.

Step 9: Choose The Best Position

Since your ads will be small, page position is very important. When buying newspaper space you can either request "ROP" (run of the paper) or "preferred position." ROP means the newspaper places your ad wherever it fits; preferred position means you choose a specific section, page or even location on a page.

Again, the experts are unanimous: ask for a preferred position. Some papers charge a little extra; however, these rates are often negotiable, especially if you are a new account. Many papers will honor your request at no additional cost.

The best place to be is on a right-hand page, near the right margin, above the fold. Main news is generally the best section, since it has the highest readership, but remember your target audience. Appealing to college students? Choose the entertainment or fashion pages. Advertising convenient hours for working women? Buy space in the business section.

The most important consideration is to get next to editorial material-a story, column or photograph. Avoid the "buried" position, surrounded by other ads, which some refer to as "the readership cemetery."

Step 10: Test And Follow-up

Simple testing and follow-up techniques can tell you how your ads are working and which newspapers work best. You can test headlines and other elements by doing a "split run." Run an ad in half the copies of one newspaper; run the same ad with a different headline (or illustration, ad size, whatever you want to test) in the other half. Include a coupon offering an incentive such as a discount or free gift. Write a different code number on the coupon for each half of the run, counts up the coupons and you'll see which headline worked best.

You also can use coupons to test newspaper effectiveness. Run the same ad in several papers, again including coded coupons. Count how many coupons came in from each newspaper, and you'll see which paper worked best. Test several types of ads, offers, sizes, newspapers and days of the week until you come up with an "optimum ad, then run the ad with confidence. Remember that consistency plus repetition equals sales. And at the end of the year, you'll realize that advertising is fairly low-cost for the returns you get.

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