7 Magazine Advertising Tips

Magazine advertising is one way you can reach out to new customers. Here’s some tips you might find useful.

Magazines are just one of many options available to businesses looking to reach out to new customers. Unlike online advertising options, such as banner ads, magazine advertising presents some unique challenges, in that it’s a little harder to measure the results of your campaign.

For publishers of tabletop roleplaying games looking at magazine advertising, Kobold Quarterly is one of the best options available, and I will use it in my examples.

Tip #1: Have a single, commanding image at the center of your advertisement.
You want people to stop and take notice of your advertisement, so that you can communicate with them. The best way to do this is to use a single central figure. This will draw the eye more quickly, and hold it more readily, than a scene with no central figure. To see this in action, check out the listing of Dragon Magazine covers on RPGnet; scroll down the page and note which ones attract your eye. Chances are, they are the ones with a single central figure.

Tip #2: Use an easy to read font.
I get it, cool fonts are… well, cool. Sadly, unless they are easy to read, they don’t draw the eye – that wonderful organ that converts text into data so that the brain can attach meaning to it. I’m not saying you should stick with Times New Roman or Arial, but you should seriously consider your choices before opting for more stylized fonts. Your goal is to communicate, first an foremost. Don’t let your design choices get in the way.

Tip #3: Your headline should be 11 words of less.
For years, advertising agencies have studied how many words a headline should be so as not to get in the way. What they’ve found is that a headline that is more than 11 words… doesn’t get read. It’s just too long. Consumption fatigue sets in and the reader moves on (ie. turns the page). Keep you headline short and to the point.

Tip #4: Try using a question in your headline
In the latest issue of Kobold Quarterly, there’s an advertisement for the Complete KOBOLD Guide to Game Design that uses this tactic. At the top, in large print, the reader is confronted with the following: “Questions about RPG Design?” If you are an aspiring game designer, this headline speaks directly to your desire to learn more about your craft. It’s a perfect headline.

Tip #5: Use a dedicated URL in your ad
How will you know if your advertisement works? You can put your company’s home page URL in the advertisement, but how will you know if Joe Gamer responded because of the advertisement. If you’re advertising in Kobold Quarterly, try a custom URL such as yourcompany.com/kq/ or use a URL shortener. Don’t use this URL for any other campaign – only for your magazine advertisement. This will allow you to measure how many people respond to your advertisement. It won’t be a perfect, 100% measurement, but it will give you an indication of how effective your advertisement is. NOTE: Some magazines also have digital editions, which means you can have the magazine sales manager hot link your advertisement to this dedicated URL.

Tip #6: Use a dedicated landing page
On the other side of your dedicated URL, have a page that is only used for your magazine advertisement. It should speak directly to people who read the magazine you’re advertising in. Test headlines on this landing page so that you know which ones keep your new potential customer most effectively. And also test your calls to action, making sure they are blatant and compelling.

Tip #7: Know what your desired result is before you advertise
Are you looking for newsletter sign-ups? How many? Set that number before you advertise so you know if the campaign was a success. Are you hoping to sell product? How many sales do you consider a good number? Here’s a simple exercise you can use, assuming you’re advertising your tabletop RPG in Kobold Quarterly:

$300 cost of a full page advertisement (assumes a four-issue campaign)

$25.00 MSRP (sticker price for your book)
$10.00 COGS (the cost to produce one copy of your book)
$15.00 Margin (how much you keep when you sell one copy of your book)

$300 / $15 = 20 (the number of copies of your book you need to sell to break even on this campaign)

If your goal is to at least break even on your advertising campaign, you need to sell 20 copies in order to dub thine campaign a success. This is why you want to have dedicated URLs and landing pages, so you can measure your resulting ROI. Without them, you’re advertising in the dark (assuming your goal is to increase sales).

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