The beauty of the trade pub is that the niche is very narrow. You know it's aimed right at the heart of your target audience. It doesn't matter if we're talking about a business journal, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing magazine or Nutritional Outlook — there's a niche trade pub for just about everyone.
So once you find the right one, how do you make the most of your ad space?
Surprise them. A couple years ago, we did a series of ads for a client whose core audience is credit unions. If you open Credit Union Times, the bible of the industry, practically every ad has a credit card (or the ever popular hand holding the credit card) as the main visual. So as you can see by the ad to the right, we went a completely different direction.
We knew our visual had to stop the reader cold. It had to be unlike anything else in the publication. And it had to be something, that at first glance, had nothing to do with credit unions, credit cards or money.
Buy creatively. Talk to your rep about your options. Could you buy an insert instead of an ad? Rather than running one large ad, could you use the same rate to run to horizontal ads on adjoining pages so you control an entire spread? Could you get their subscriber list as part of the package?
The ad rep's job is to make you happy and successful. The better your ad works, they more money they stand to make on subsequent ads. So let them work for that money. Ask them to tell you about the 3-4 most creative ad buys (not the ads themselves) they've seen.
Don't buy at all if you're only going to buy one. Even if you have a very specific reason (trade show, one time sale, etc) for wanting to be in the publication — remember the need for frequency to capture your audience's attention. You can either run a series of ads with enough common elements that the readers will know they're part of a whole, or you can re-run the same ad. But….don't think your one hit wonder is going to do the trick.
Remember — if you don't have the patience or money to do it right (so it works), then find a different tactic. Why throw your money at something you know isn't going to be effective.
Bottom line: Trade pubs are a beautiful way to talk to a specific audience. But, only if you can actually get their attention. Use your creative, your ability to buy in a fresh way and some frequency to win the eyes of your target.
The truth is, most trade pub ads are utterly forgettable. So I'm curious….can you recall a great trade pub ad? What made it memorable?