By Dianna Huff
Founder and President
Huff Industrial Marketing, Inc.
According to the 2,288 manufacturing managers and engineers Gardner Business Media surveyed for their 2015 Media Usage research study, 86% ranked trade magazines as their number one and number two choice with regard to “effectiveness in terms of finding information.”
When asked what type of trade magazine content delivery they preferred, 55% of these managers and engineers said “print magazines.”
When I first wrote about Gardner’s survey data, I took the information with a grain of salt. Gardner is in the business of producing print publications – so of course, their survey results would tilt toward print.
Since writing that post, I’ve visited a fair number of small manufacturers. The one thing I see, no matter the size of manufacturer or job shop, is trade publications: on lobby coffee tables; in the bathroom; on the shop floor. More important, I see them on people’s desks and credenzas.
Trade publications, despite the digital revolution (or maybe because of it), are seemingly thriving, thankyouverymuch.
To see if my assumptions were correct, I spoke with Rick Kline, Sr. CEO of Gardner Business Media.
Print Ad Trend: Smaller, Full-Color
I specifically wanted to know if Kline had seen any trends with regard to print ads. Were advertisers running more or less? Were they using QR codes or no? Based on the publications I read, it seemed more advertisers were running smaller ads.
Kline confirmed my hunch and noted the growing use of full-color in quarter, half-page, and island ad sizes. These ads get placed adjacent to editorial versus being stand-alone, the way full-page ads are. Thus, they’re more noticed by readers. And while the size is smaller, advertisers do pay a premium to run these ads in full color.
Print Advertising ROI – Does it Exist?
According to Kline, the more savvy advertisers use special phone numbers or URLs to track visits to a company’s website. “Many of our customers do measure traffic and get inquiries,” he said.
The perceived lack of ROI with regard to print advertising is what keeps companies from advertising. Yet smaller manufacturers and job shops will spend thousands of dollars on a 10’ x 10’ tradeshow booth – which may or may not deliver ROI.
“With print advertising,” says Kline, “you can run your ads during months when editorial is more appropriate to your products or services or you can run an ad in consecutive months. You can also take advantage of special tradeshow issues. The point is, print advertising is quite economical cost-wise, when compared to a tradeshow, and gets your company name in front of thousands of people – and for months after the publication has been printed.”
“Print exposes people to things they don’t know.”
Like all publishers, Gardner has the challenge of providing its message the way its audience prefers it. Delivery can happen on a tablet, a website, a smartphone, or print. “The device is the medium,” said Kline. “Print is a medium, too, and our audience does prefer it. The medium is important but what’s more important is the content.”
According to Kline, trade publications, including Gardner’s, give readers information they often don’t know about.
“Trade publications, and Gardner’s in particular, are filled with how-to information, application stories, and case studies. Our editors go out and talk to manufacturers and engineers to hear their success stories and challenges. Our editorial stresses new technologies. We want to help our readers improve their plants and be more competitive here in the U.S. and around the world.”
The difference between a print publication and a search engine, according to Kline, is that print is a “push” medium while search is a “pull” medium. With a search engine, you don’t know what information you’re missing because unless you know about something, you don’t know what to search for. And, with the search filter bubble, you may be exposed to content which by-and-large fits your worldview.
With a print publication, the information comes to you.
“Print exposes people to things they might not otherwise know or learn,” says Kline. “It’s one reason why people prefer it. For Gardner, we use the ‘push’ of print to deliver information readers will only find in the magazine.”
To ascertain readers’ needs and challenges, Gardner set up a LinkedIn Group open only to owners of small shops (no vendors or advertisers). “We simply listen to what these owners talk about,” says Kline.
It’s due to these reasons, and others, that the company has seen a 150% growth in print advertising in the last six years.
“We know our readers are older and that the younger generation is moving up the ranks,” says Kline. “We’re very aware of the technology mediums people use. It’s why we’re converting our websites to responsive design. But, technology is still just a medium. What really counts is the content – and in that, we’ll continue to remain focused on providing the application notes and technology stories our readers can’t find anywhere else.”
DIANNA HUFF is a marketing consultant who works with small, family-owned industrial manufacturers and job shops to help them market, grow, and succeed. She focuses her expertise on delivering fresh insights and strategies scaled to smaller manufacturers and their unique challenges. An award-winning marketer, Dianna has been quoted or featured in the trade media, including Forbes, BtoB magazine, and Search Engine Land as well as industry blogs and marketing books. She is a proud supporter of and advocate for the growing Made in America movement.
RICK KLINE, SR. serves as CEO of Gardner Business Media, Inc. and is the grandson of the company's founder Don Gardner. Founded in 1928 in Cincinnati, Ohio and its current location, Gardner has been the publisher for the heart of manufacturing in North America. Formerly known as Gardner Publications, Inc., the company publishes nine titles, and has expanded international offerings to include Modern Machine Shop Mexico and Plastics Technology Mexico. Gardner also has developed Map Your Show (MYS) which provides tradeshow mapping applications and solutions.