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Is Pennysaver advertising dead?

We feel it should be for some small businesses after a recent review of a client’s ad performance over the past year. Sure maybe that front page ad space is worth something to someone somewhere, but is it worth the price of placing the actual ad?

Gone. Through. Finished. Kaput.

We were inspired to share this recent marketing epiphany after talking with one of our clients about their Pennysaver advertising performance over the past 12 months. As with any advertising, tracking return on investment often presents the biggest challenge. So, we started there with the client – trying to identify what the actual return on investment was from the given print campaign.

Let’s call the company XYZ Landscaping for the interest of this post – and if an actual XYZ Landscaping exists, rest assured we’re not talking about you and we apologize for any confusion…but hey, consider it free digital marketing!

When trying to identify ROI information for the XYZ Landscaping ad listing in the local Pennysaver, we were amazed at the cost involved with the advertisement. We couldn’t get past the staggering rate XYZ was paying for the local print exposure. The number of actual words amounted to all of 8, not including address and phone info. For those 8 words – and associated contact info – the ad cost the business owner $200 a week. Not a month, or a year – $200 a week, for a simple two-line, text only listing, buried somewhere between $.75 Elvis plates and free washer/dryer pickup. The ROI to date, according to the business owner, was exactly zero %.

In the span of a year XYZ Landscaping received exactly zero new customers from their Pennysaver advertisement. With the challenges of tracking and calculating ROI for the average small business owner being what they are, we’ll admit they surely could have missed a few here and there.

And while we’re at it, here’s a simple question to ask every new customer; “How did you hear about us?”

OK, back to the point. We feel there are many better advertising alternatives out there for the local neighborhood business than a zero point zero return on investment, and we communicated that to XYZ Landscaping. We recommended immediate expulsion for the Pennysaver ad, and double secret probation for the XYZ ad budget. A minimum of $9600/year for a Pennysaver Ad?

They’d be better served plying their trade with blinged out lawn mowers. Sure, we know the Pennysaver gets the free circulation numbers, but when was the last time you even opened the thing?

Ours goes from mailbox to recycle bin without even breaching the doorway, literally. At least the phone book is holding up some computer monitors, or offering our vertically challenged employees a more advantageous sight picture while driving. The Pennysaver lacks the bulk for such alterative application.

We’re happy to report that XYZ Landscaping eclipsed their Pennysaver ad performance within the first week of starting a Facebook page and initiating a few online local business listings. All for a heck of a lot less monthly financial investment.

An ad that is not performing well should be examined to ensure you are effectively communicating exactly what it is you are offering to the prospective customer.

  • Does your ad clearly communicate your business and/or products and services offered?
  • Is there a call to action?
  • Is your contact information clearly displayed?
  • Is the advertising medium chosen popular within your local community?

Let’s hear some more due diligence questions to share when it comes to small business local advertising. And tell us what you think of the Pennysaver as an effective advertising and marketing medium.

Not so legal disclaimer: We’re sure the Pennysaver is still an effective advertising medium for some local small businesses, in some areas. The abovementioned ad performance is for this particular business owner only…Results may vary…What you see now is happening now…

If you’re one of those local businesses, please share your story with us. Enquiring minds want to know!