Making press advertising work

Advertising is an essential element of any promotional campaign, but has to be right to work. Several clients started working with Attinger Jack disillusioned with press advertising believing it ‘doesn’t work for us’.  Employing AJ as a specialist full service direct response advertising agency has changed their minds and transformed their approach, both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Outcome: Re-establishing successful customer recruitment channels

When reading light specialists, Serious Readers, started working with Attinger Jack in 2015, inserts had become the dominant customer recruitment channel.  Press advertising had taken a backseat because performance remained unprofitable year on year.  Charged with delivering profitable OTP sales for the range of Serious Readers lights, AJ set about developing creative and media strategies to re-engage the company with media successfully and grow their business.  By the end of the year, the press response target had been achieved with detailed attribution analysis showing press outperformed inserts consistently, becoming the lead source of sales.  The 2016 budget increased by 100% and the ROI targets beaten.  The campaign, which had been seasonal (four months a year), now runs for 10 months a year.

AJ Approach: The key here is attribution.  We needed to offer Serious Readers’ customers an incentive to provide a unique code so we could track the ROI.  Rather than offering a discount, the client opted for offering a free gift.  This produced two benefits.  Sales increased due to the incentive and we established the source of those sales.  With a small £20K test budget, we designed new creative which drove sales quickly, rather than enquiries, showing a big improvement in the results.  As a result, we have (i) increased the title list by 150%, (ii) a range of ad sizes from a full page to a 20 x 2 and (iii) a portfolio of ads so we can minimise the saturation in our key titles and ensure we are appealing to every potential audience.

Outcome: Responding immediately to performance by tracking ‘live’ data

“I had given up on press completely, now I am excited about it again.” Stephen Sacks, Owner

Wallace Sacks, an online furniture retailer, came to Attinger Jack not achieving their ROIs through their existing press advertising.  A key feature of AJ’s subsequent media strategy for Wallace Sacks has been a focus on attribution.  By allowing AJ to become actively involved in their business, with easy access to good quality intranet data, Wallace Sacks enjoys detailed analysis and week-by-week media planning in return.  Seeing ongoing press spend performance maintained above target levels, and by as much as 30% in key months, Wallace Sacks’ new-found confidence in press advertising is reflected in an 400% spend increase.

AJ Approach: When we first met Wallace Sacks, the only press working for them was advertorials set by the newspapers.  The traditional direct response ad formats failed to deliver the required ROI.  With this knowledge, we produced a range of advertorial-style ads, telling a story about the company and the product.  We also offered a large discount with a code used at check out.  The success of these ads quickly overtook the advertorials, and we now use almost all national newspapers and a wide range of magazines, with a range of sizes, sections and products.  The spend increased from £20K to £100K a month.  In addition, once we had maximised press, we ran similarly-styled inserts to make the most of their key periods and new audiences.  Our third tactic was TV.  In summer 2016 we produced a TV commercial from stills at a cost of £8K, with a £10K test media budget.  Their previous TV test hadn’t worked, but with improved creative, an incentive to quote a code and buying rates of 60% lower than their previous agency, we hit the ROI target and have now run a further four campaigns.

Outcome: Responding immediately to performance by re-building from scratch

Thomas Sanderson is another AJ client reaping the benefits of allowing the agency to become integrated into their company, accessing ‘live’ data on a daily basis through their sophisticated sales recording systems.  A ‘back to basics’ approach was used at the beginning of AJ’s relationship with Thomas Sanderson, developing creative over time for each product, responding immediately to performance through high-level attribution methodology.

AJ Approach: Faced with such poor press results, stripping ‘back to basics’ was the only way forward when AJ took over the account.  We produced hard-working, offer-led creative and reduced the buying rates, cutting back spend until we had the results back on track.  The ads wouldn’t win any beauty contests but they delivered high quality leads and a resulting ROI to validate the approach.  Building the schedule slowly, based on results, saw the spend return.  This allowed us to introduce emails, online display, lead generation, competitions and TV into the media mix.  Constantly refreshing the creative and bringing new ideas to the schedule has allowed us to maintain the results moving forward.

“We have been working with AJ for 6 weeks and already we have seen a significant increase in our press enquiries, better value for money and positions on our advert placements – they have revived press for us!” Nicola Owen, Senior Marketing Manager

Outcome: Increasing opportunities to advertise effectively

As a market leader in quality cashmere knitwear products, the Cashmere Centre saw Christmas and Easter as their only clear opportunities for press advertising.   In just a few months, AJ’s skilful media buying and new creative helped Cashmere Centre see ROI increase from 2:1 to nearer 4:1.  The tactics used saw AJ illustrate their ideas to the Cashmere Centre through new creative for their sister brand James Alexander and introducing the men’s range to off-the-page.  This was partnered with a small test budget.  Once tested successfully, a media plan was rolled out gradually increasing spend to ensure the required ROI.  As a result, the company’s growing confidence in what works for them has seen spend double with a media schedule now running beyond Christmas throughout the New Year.

AJ Approach:  The client was happy with their results.  They simply accepted they drove the media plan and the product was seasonal with a short customer recruitment window, mainly during the Christmas gifting period.  This had never previously been challenged but AJ saw an opportunity to maximise key periods. By analysing the results and testing titles with a similar profile to the top performers, the title list was broadened and new product lines added to the off-the-page activity.  Great introductory rates, a wider range of ad sizes and lengthening the season have all contributed to seeing the spend double and the ROI improve significantly.  This year’s Jan/Feb campaign is a first, and we have inserts planned for Easter.  Using the results from press we’re developing a low risk, robust plan which we’ll build on in their key winter period.

How are you feeling about press advertising and what it’s doing for you?  We’d love to hear your thoughts.

To find out more about how AJ can help press advertising work for you, contact Alice Buttling-Smith or Ann Gardiner on 01225 758222 or email alice@aja.co.uk or ann@aja.co.uk