How to run a successful print advertising campaign in B2B publications

To run a successful print advertising campaign in a business-to-business publication you need a clear objective, adequate resources, a compelling message and the right channels to market.

A product or service that solves a problem also helps!

Establish a clear objective

Advertising to boost sales is a given, so what specifically do you wish to achieve? – Greater market share? – Launch a new product or service? – Break into new territory? – Reinforce after sales service and support? – Greater brand awareness?

If you don’t know what you wish to achieve, how will you achieve it?

Identify your target market

Who are your target customers? What are their job types? In which industry sector do they operate? Where are they based? Are they the decision-makers or do they influence the sales process?

If you can’t clearly define your target customers then you can’t reach your target audience.

Make a shortlist of relevant publications

Start by gathering media kits from relevant publications.

Review the demographics of each and once satisfied that they reach your target customers, compare and contrast each.

A good way to do this is to create a spreadsheet listing the publications in separate columns.

On the left hand side of the spreadsheet create a column with rows for the following data:

1. Publication format – For each publication, enter its type and dimensions e.g. magazine (297 x 235mm). This will give you an indication of what sort of impact your ad will have.

Magazine ads more impact because of their glossy finish.

Ads in newspapers offer more space, with their rough matt finish so they don’t have quite the same impact as magazines.

2. Publisher – For identification purposes enter the publisher of each title. Review the publisher’s website and their stable of publications. How long have they been around? Maybe call some of their advertisers and ask them what sort of results they’ve been getting.

3. Frequency – Enter the frequency of publication i.e. monthly, bi-monthly, bi-annual – twice yearly etc. Generally speaking, the greater the publication’s frequency – the stronger its brand recognition in the market.

4. Circulation – Enter each publication’s circulation.

5. Full-page card rate excluding GST – Enter the full-page card rate excluding GST for each publication.

6. Cost Per Thousand (CPM) – Okay. This is where it gets interesting. By calculating each publication’s CPM, you’ll see which gives you the most bang for your advertising dollar.

To calculate CPM divide each publication’s full-page card rate excluding GST by its circulation.

For example, if the publication’s full-page card rate excluding GST is $4,170 and its circulation is 8,034 copies then its CPM is 52 cents. Therefore, it costs 52 cents to run a full-page ad in each copy of this publication.

Do this for each publication in your spreadsheet; the Excel savvy can do this quickly with a simple formula.

7. CAB audited? – Since 1957, the Circulations Audit Board (CAB) has been providing advertisers, marketers and media buyers with verified distribution data, delivering credibility to the media industry.

CAB-audited publications usually publish the CAB logo in their publishers panel and in their media kit.

My advice: don’t risk your advertising dollars with publications that aren’t CAB audited.

Publishers not CAB audited can only make claims about their circulation and distribution. There is nothing to support or verify their circulation and distribution, so caution here.

Also, be wary of publications with outdated CAB figures. Figures should be less than six months old.

In your spreadsheet under each publication enter a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in the CAB audited row.

8. Distribution by State – Under Distribution in your spreadsheet, create rows for each state then enter the figures for each publication.

For publications that don’t disclose their distribution, enter ‘not in the public domain’.

The information here speaks for itself; it is particularly illuminating if your campaign is focussed on a particular region.


I haven’t discussed content in selecting publications and for good reason.

Editorial is subjective; it cannot be quantitatively measured.

Many advertisers place their advertising based on perception, which is just nuts. You may as well be spinning the bottle to choose a publication.

Unless a publication has: received accolades and awards for editorial; rated highest in credible and independent research; or has no genuine competitor, there is no logical reason to choose one publication over another based on editorial.

As for publisher’s that inveigle advertisers with editorial for an ad booking, this offers little benefit.

People who procure or specify plant, equipment and services are not morons; many are engineers or people with an engineering background. Puff pieces such as company profiles will not get their attention.

I have no respect for editors who sanction such drivel under the guise of genuine editorial. Neither should you. If it’s paid-for editorial, it should be clearly identified as such.

Create an effective advertisement

Creating an effective advertisement begins with defining your advertising message.

Yes, by all means canvas the opinions and feedback of your sales team, but don’t assume anything about your target customers or your advertising message. Also be wary of relying on anecdotal feedback from sales people.

A prudent approach here should involve some research. This doesn’t have to be a costly exercise. Hiring a temp for a week to survey by phone your client base with a brief, relevant and apropriate questionnaire will suffice.

Support your advertising campaign with editorial

I am gobsmacked at the number of advertisers that don’t leverage their advertising with editorial.

I suspect this is because people neither have the time, resources, know-how or inclination to write an editorial.

People also often assume that they don’t have anything of value to say. Nonsense. If you supply equipment or provide a service you must at the very least be able to offer advice or guidance.

A consultant or media agency can help here, but ensure they’re intimately familiar with your industry sector. Also ask them how many editorial contributions they released got picked up or published? Do they have a network of connections? Do they know the editors?

Measure the results

It’s critical to measure the effectiveness of your campaign.

Enquiries or leads is a key performance indicator of a campaign’s effectiveness. If you’re not diligent and disciplined about recording where your leads originate, start now.