Better Magazine Advertising Practices for Christian Schools

As your marketing and admission season ramps up, you will likely place advertisements in local magazines and newspapers (and for some of you, you may also pay to advertise on Facebook as well.)  Here are 5 tips to make your advertising more effective:

Open House ad tip #1: never review a print ad by itself; print & paste it inside a copy of publication alongside other ads to see if it stands out.  When reviewing the PDF on your screen, you are only focusing on the layout/design but when reviewing in its eventual context, you focus on whether or not your think the ad will capture attention.

Open House ad tip #2:  use social media to test your ad before it goes to print.  Test headlines using Twitter to see what reaction you get (you can do the same in email marketing subject lines).  Use Instagram to test which images get favorited the most.   Use Facebook to test headline/image combination.  Realizing your newspaper/magazine audience may differ than your social followers, this still gives you some idea what elements will play better in your next ad.

Open House ad tip #3:  while you should include pertinent information like time/date, most other information can be found online.  The ad should grab their attention, intrigue them and drive them online!  While you paid for the space, it does not mean you have to use every bit of space with text.  You ad audience has a short attention span (they are perusing) whereas your website visitors are exploring and willing to stay longer.  Do not be afraid of some white space and limit your calls to action.  Resist the urge to overcrowd.

Open House ad tip #4: when you design an ad to reach “anyone and everyone”, it likely reaches no one!  While you are open to guests of all ages, consider your enrollment goals.  If you are really wanting to grow your High School, focus the ad on the things that will attract them.  Forgot the all-inclusive, multi-age, multi-gender, multi-racial promotional photo (usually this looks so staged it can be confused for stock photography!)  If your admission event is open to all, split the ad into 2 different ads and target the image/message accordingly.  Make sure your ad gets the attention of your intended audience.  If people do not think the ad is talking to them, they assume it is addressing someone else.

Open House ad tip #5: Use free content to entice people to visit your site.  “7 reasons you should choose our school” is not what I am talking about.  Try non-promotional, high-value content.  For example, “7 Tips on Choosing a College” or “3 Secrets to Parenting the Middle School Years”.  When you add value to someone’s life, you earn their trust.  Compose and create content that addresses the values of your target market.  Offer this in a blog article or in exchange for an email address (preferred so you can subsequently grow your email database).  Make this a clear offering in your ad (this may be your best call-to-action).  I liken it to when you go to the supermarket to buy milk.  Because of its location (typically at the back), you see other things and rarely come out of the store with just milk.  When new site visitors come for valuable content that helps them, they will see other things that you offer that compel them to want to know more.  Make your site is robust with helpful content and not just an onslaught of self-promoting text. Read this article about Jay Baer’s new book, YouUtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help Not Hype.

Bonus articles: