Updated: Mar 22, 2021
by Trevor Waddington, Principal, Truth Tree Consulting
To keep up with trends in independent school education and summer camp offerings, I get a handful of regional and national magazines delivered to my home. Once a month, I thumb through to see the camp and school ads. I pay close attention to the latest buzz words, what visuals they are using, and what their call to action is, just to name a few. It’s interesting how little they have evolved in the past twenty years (minus the QR code craze of the late 2000s). Here are five tips to get the most out of your paper display ads in 2020.
1. Where You At?
First, think about the publication in which you are advertising. The regional parent magazine’s private school issue or summer camp issue is going to be full of...you know. So if your ad has a photo of a kid, your slogan, a few feature-based bullet points, and contact information, your ad will meld in with the rest of them. Save the vanilla ad for Guns & Ammo and go very bold in the private school education guide. (If you advertise in Guns & Ammo you will be the talk of the town and my professional hero)
2. You Talkin’ To Me?
This is going to sound harsh, but nobody cares about your brand. No one cares that you have great teachers and a rigorous curriculum. They only care about what you can do for their child. So write with that in mind. Replace We have…’ At Widget Summer Camp, our…
With Your child will [verb] because [benefit(s)] at Widget Summer Camp. Make the reader the lead in your ad “story” and let him/her be the hero by considering and hopefully enrolling at your school or camp.
3. Know Your Role
Thirty years ago, summer camps were booming and independent schools had waitlists. The parent magazine guides were to parents what the Sears Wish Book was to the kids. While the Wish Book is no more, parents still read the paper publications. However, without an amazing offer or call-to-action, treat your ad as a brand awareness campaign and design it as such. With so much information and resources online, rarely will you get the parent to pick up the phone and call the number in your ad.
4. No Posers
There’s nothing more disingenuous than a camera-facing, posed picture. Even worse is a stock photo of the same ilk. (I just had a chill run down my back). When choosing a photo, think about what emotion you want to elicit from the reader. Remember, this is likely going to be a brand impression, and emotion is what drives that perception.
4.5 A few additional tips when choosing a visual.
4.5.1 - Choose an action photo. Action creates emotion.
5. How Does This Sound?
Some schools and camps unwittingly do a great job pushing brand awareness because they are either stretched too thin or too budget-strapped to pay a designer for a new ad each month. The other side of that coin is the school or camp that records no emails or phone calls each month based on the ad and changes it constantly. These are usually the same people that create ads that look good to THEM and maybe a few people around the proverbial water cooler outside their office. Find some of your best customers and show them a few variations to see how they FEEL about each one.
Wants some more tips? How about a partnership with the #1 digital marketing firm for independent schools and summer camps? Reach out today.