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CompleteMarkets expert insights on how to acquire new agents and brokers.

Are you wasting your money on print advertising?

Erin Carlson Erin Carlson , 5/1/2017
1 Reviews - 5 of 5.0
If you measure results, you will find that print advertising money has far less ROI.

The majority of our clients that have tried print advertising can attest to print advertising not working for them. These are the ones that took the time to measure ROI and actual results.

The reasons to use Print Advertising are nebulous and not based in actual fact finding.

The few that continue to waste their money on print advertising, tell us they ‘think’ it’s worthwhile but can’t be sure. They use unmeasurable, nebulous print sales jargon like ‘readership’ or ‘shelf life’ or other reasons. I have heard people tell me that some agents do not use the internet; they prefer print ads in magazines. Or, print has a higher impact because it’s more tangible, more trustable.

Also, these select few print advertisers, on closer inspection reveal certain and interesting similarities –

  1. They have larger advertising budgets.
  2. They have dedicated marketing teams.
  3. They produce much of their Print ad copy and design in house.
  4. They ALL use multiple forms of marketing – email, social, print, telemarketing, event marketing, etc.
  5. They ALL have been using Print Advertising for years and have it in their budget. Sort of a legacy expense and no sense in changing it and upsetting the apple cart.
  6. They take out bigger ads, mostly 4 color prints. They figure that smaller ads do not work. So, they have a budget for the big spend and hope that it works. Do drivers read small billboards?
The majority that do not use a significant portion of their budget on Print Advertising also display interesting similarities –
  1. They measure results – they follow the bouncing ball from budget, to spend, to placement to inbound activity and actual business written with underwriters (using customer numbers, phone numbers, agency names, etc.)
  2. They examine ROI – did they actually make more money than they spent on that specific advertising effort/placement.
  3. The marketing teams tend to be smaller, close-knit (geographically central), with one person responsible for marketing results.
  4. They are unafraid to try different things and mix things up year after year with budgeting and spend. They are unafraid because they have systems that measure results and they can act on those results.
  5. Their response rates are quicker, higher and agents are telling us that these firms engage more effectively. In other words, the whole organization is nimble (not just the marketing and sales team).
It’s almost impossible to accurately measure ROI on Print Advertising


But, when you ask these folks that are buying print ads how they measure ROI, they have no real answers. They mumble something about tracking inbound callers by asking them where they heard about the company, or they even talk about using QR codes to measure print advertising response! QR codes are unwieldy, difficult to use and ineffective. 

Let’s examine the some unflattering tenets about Print Ads
  1. Print advertising is more expensive than online advertising. You also spend money on ad copy and design. And ad copy and design can further reduce your chances of any successful response rate.
  2. There is no way to target your audience. You take the publishers word for it in terms of readership. But publishers cannot tell you when you ad is opened, or read.
  3. There isn’t any easy call to action – the reader sees your Ad while reading at their lunch break, they are not in action mode. They are in semi-leisure mode. They are less inclined to act even if they want to. Instead they make a mental note – “hmm, I should call these guys later”.
  4. Mobility – agents are on the move. Both physically and mentally. And they are using their cell phone and laptops to obtain their information, because it’s quicker, accessible on the move and allows them to get more done in less time – more effective.
  5. You have no tangible way to test your ad design or ad copy. There is no A-B testing, no way to determine what parts are working and what parts of your ad are getting the desired response. You just put it out there and ‘hope’ for the best.
Other forms of marketing that are more effective

While our experience has shown us that print advertising is generally ineffective and provides less that desired ROI, there are other forms on offline advertising that our clients are using effectively – direct mail, event marketing, and flyers and takeaways to name a few.

Which is why, we focus on helping our clients with all forms of measurable digital advertising – email, SEO, display, social and re-marketing. And we measure all of these efforts in a monthly scoreboard delivered to your email box every month. This scoreboard shows you where you are scoring runs and where you struck out. And you can drill down further by using our on-demand reporting dashboard that shows you all of your marketing activity and all of your leads and submissions.

Get in touch; we will help craft an effective digital marketing solution to help grow your agency – more premium and more agents.