Local Newspaper Adverts: Are they really worth it?

Have you been feeling guilty about not advertising your small business? or have you taken out ads with local newspapers, which have had minimal / poor results?

As a small start up ourselves, and as a design business, we deal with start-ups across Dublin and Wicklow on a daily basis. From creating their logos to their full branding identities. We feel, after witnessing many start-ups jump straight in to newspaper advertising and not utilising what skills they might already have for marketing, that it’s time to let everyone know what we think about overpriced advertising!

Until you have at least a four-figure budget to spend (for front cover ads etc) newspaper advertising isn’t the most cost effective solution for your small business. Instead, let’s look at what you can do to attract prospects, convert them to customers, and build your business without having to spend your hard-earned cash on advertising.

Dream Big, Think about Clever Marketing, Not Newspaper Ads

Placing ads strategically can be one tactic you use in your overall marketing efforts, but — as mentioned above — until you have serious money to spend, your advertising won’t make a dent at all. Most local newspapers are free these days, and basically full of adverts, with not much engaging content, or repetitive stale news which you have heard or seen online days before.

Stop wasting your businesses money.

Do you think your 3inch squared ad, that you have spent circa €250* (average price for coverage size locally) on is anywhere near as effective as a cleverly designed paid online marketing campaign? Newspaper salespeople love to boast about their circulation numbers, which is great, but really do you think if they print 10,000, 20,000 or 45,000 of their newspaper that every single one of them is read from cover to cover?! No, we don’t either!

Times have changed, and today we’re all bombarded by advertising messages. We’ve developed “ad filters” in our brains that eliminate the majority of these messages as a survival mechanism. The best use for most of these papers nowadays is for starting the fire at home!

Rather than spending your businesses hard-earned money adding a drop or two to the roaring stream of advertising messages, develop these valuable techniques instead. They both rely on the idea of pulling in prospects and not pushing out advertising messages.


Create a Facebook Page for your business, if you don’t have one already, and share resources relating to your type of work. Share links to interesting articles, videos and other material that will help your clients or future clients with their challenges. This type of posting will create traffic for your website, which when a customer might have come to read an article such as this one, might browse around the rest of your site and see what else you offer.

Your posts can be scheduled ahead of time so you can put together a week’s worth of information in one sitting. Plan ahead, it will make it easier in the long run. Interact directly with your clients and listen to their voice. Why not use some of the €250 your were willing to spend on that 3inch squared ad, and promote your posts? You could have your own direct circulation reach of over 500,000 people, easily.

Use Twitter to share links. If you’re on Twitter and have built up some followers, share links to information they’ll enjoy.


If your business already has a website, start creating engaging news articles, or a blog section. If you’re willing to commit to writing at least every couple of weeks, a blog is a flexible platform to share information. Plus, you own it 100%, unlike social media platforms where the rules may change from one day to the next. Your posts can share resources and knowledge that will help your clients consume what your business offers.

Create a monthly or bi-monthly email newsletter (anything more than this is overkill!) using services such as Mailchimp. Building an email list and sending out valuable information on a regular basis is a wonderful way to keep your business in front of your prospective clients without bombarding them with advertising messages. It takes commitment, but if you share both information and valuable links — it hopefully won’t take much time to produce.


For many small business owners, word of mouth is key. Your best prospects come to you already “warmed up” by glowing recommendations they’ve heard from their friends, colleagues and family members.

If this is your situation, why not make the most of it?

Find out who your “networking” customers are. Ask those customers who always seem to help you spread the word if they’d be willing to take it up a notch. Here are some ideas:

  • Give them some business cards or company brochures and ask them to spread them around
  • See if they’ll post about doing business with you on Facebook so their friends see the recommendation
  • Offer them a discount for each new customer they bring you
  • Give them exclusive reward or discount cards they can give to their friends
  • Take Your Marketing Into Your Own Hands

So remember, the next time that newspaper advertising rep calls with the “special deal” on the 3 inch two-line ad in their paper/firelighter, tell her you’ve found a better way.

Don’t spend money by wasting it. Spend time building a referral network and creating valuable information that will be more effective than any ad could be.

If you are looking for a hand with any of the above, or just want to drop in for a chat with us, email us today – [email protected] – we are hear to help.

Thanks for reading!

Aidan – Design Aid