I own this seemingly unmarketable object – Brighton’s loudest alarm clock – because a magazine advert, not dissimilar to the famous one on the top of this page, caught my eye. I don’t remember it well but it probably had one of those catchy little slogans that adverts have: “Don’t live a little, live an alarm clock”, for example, or “If you like a lot of alarm clock on your biscuit, join our club”
Bear with me; I’m coming to my point – but first I must brief you about two other events yesterday that bring me to write this blog.
Half an hour after rising, I was on Twitter when I noticed a message exhorting people to race to www.millionpoundlist.com. The website was one of those attempts to raise money without doing anything much. Click on the link if you want to know how crass it is. In most cases, you’d have to be as thick as a rhino’s bunions to fall for this sort of thing. Alas, it was persuasively worded and I stumped up a tenner hoping there would be some eventual advantage for the tea shop. In retrospect, there won’t be.
The third event took place at Asda in the Marina, where I got so angry I left my half-filled trolley in the frozen peas aisle and came home empty-handed. Brighton and Hove is full of supermarkets from which I have flounced without any groceries and this time it was because they didn’t have the nut roast I wanted. Or any nut roast, for that matter.
How are these three events linked? Well, they’re all about advertising, or ‘legalised lying’ as HG Wells called it, and how it works.
In the first two, I was duped into parting needlessly with cash by forms of advertising. The third is an example of how I was left disappointed because I didn’t take advantage of the available advertising – in this case, the product search facility on Asda’s website.
Advertising, you see, is everywhere and in some form or another affects you and me hundreds of times a day. This fact, and the fact that the advertising industry here in Brighton alone is worth tens of millions of pounds, tells us one thing: advertising works. For small businesses like Metrodeco, there’s no hiding from that fact. And that is the point of this blog. Sure, if you’re like us, you’ll take advantage of free advertising, or PR, as the PR industry calls it. But you won’t get a steady stream of timely, high profile, on-message coverage unless you pay for it. A local press campaign can increase awareness, establish familiarity and, ultimately, drive up sales.
I’m not going to go further into the boons or the banes (ie. the cost), but what I want to do here is give you the benefit of my limited but valuable (I hope) experience of Brighton and Hove’s advertising industry from the perspective of a small business. That way, if you ever have a heart attack, a brief period of internet stupidity and a bout of intense trolley rage all in one morning and decide that you too need to advertise, it might be a little bit easier for you to navigate that murky world.
So, onto business. Like all good things, good advertising is like tea.
Taking each criteria in turn, it has to be trustworthy because, if it’s not, people will find you out and your adverts and everything else you say will become ineffective. Have you seen the recent national newspaper adverts by Halifax building society, in relation to the floods in Cumbria? They claim to have ‘put in place a number of special arrangements to help Halifax customers’ affected. These include three month mortgage payment holidays and emergency overdraft increases. Piffle! These things were available at all reputable banks and building societies before the floods, including Halifax. It looks like spin and makes Halifax look cynical.
People are already suspicious of the whole industry without being lied to and our detailed research on the issue in the Brighton & Hove area shows us why:
Why energetic? It’s thought we are bombarded with around 3,500 media messages a day from brands attempting to capture our attention and engage us with their products. Even my local bus stop in Kemp Town has now started talking to me with its ‘real time’ display, rather than behaving like a normal inanimate object. Most of this noise is boring. Deeply, mind-numbingly, soul-scarringly, eye-gougingly boring. And utterly pointless too. So by the following day, 99.9% of these messages forgotten. You, too, will be forgotten in the blink of an eye if you don’t attempt to bring something fresh and original to the table. So think about what your advert is saying and whether the consumer will have seen a similar message that day.
Finally, your advertising has to be appropriate in terms of the audience, the likely affect of that advert on that audience and the cost. It’s pointless advertising zimmer frames at the local youth disco, especially if you have to sell your husband or wife to afford the advert.
Below this blog, I have provided a run-down of some of what’s on offer in Brighton and Hove and how much it will cost you. Admittedly, it’s only the print side of things, but I’m sure our friends in TV and radio will let me know if they have interesting to add.
Next week: how to solve the Iranian nuclear crisis.
Delivered once a week (on Fridays) to homes across Brighton. Importantly, it’s free, which means it has a huge readership (over 95,000 according to its publishers, Newsquest). On the upside, this means all sorts of people will read it, from sports fans to politicians to religious leaders – so you’re likely to reach your target audience and some you didn’t know you wanted to reach. It’s also only available in Brighton and Hove – so if that’s where you customers are, then you’re not wasting any money advertising in places like Lewes, Crawley or Worthing. The downside is that it’s fairly expensive at £7.50 per column centimetre. In English, this means it’s going to cost you in the region of £330 for a quarter page colour advert.
The city’s daily paper and key publication. Same price for adverts as the Leader but slightly fewer people will see your ad – 91,000 read each paper (about three times as many as actually buy it). Thursday is a good bet if you think this is the publication for you as it’s the best-read with jobs guide and motoring pull-out. Again, it’s got mass appeal, but although its core readership is in Brighton and Hove, it is sold across Sussex. If your advert is in the Argus, it’s likely that it will be on the side of a packet of fish and chips within 24 hours, whereas the Leader can hang around homes for a week. However, the Argus is more influential insofar as it is read by far more of the city’s power-brokers and decision-makers than. It might interest you to know that nearly half of the Argus’s readers are over 55. Of those in the core area of Brighton and Hove, 56% regularly enjoy eating out.
One of the hardest working ad teams of them all, the Visitor gang are our favourite of all the magazines. They will not only put your ad on the pages of the mag AND the website but will promote you endlessly on Twitter and by word of mouth. At only £275 for a half page ad this publication is definitely recommended. Also, if you’re looking for an ethical ad placement, Brighton Visitor puts massive amounts of time and effort into community events, like the annual Food Festival and does a lot to promote the city in their own time and at no profit to themselves.
Available for free at hundreds of Brighton and Hove outlets, this weekly glossy mag is a bit younger and fresher than the Argus stable and at £300 for a half page advert, your money goes a bit further. Of all the zillions of city magazines it has the feeling of being the most established and trusted. It’s the one, for example, that the city council leader writes in and has a talented editor in Bella Todd, formally from Time Out. The Latest sales team claim that more than 100,000 ‘in Sussex, London and the South’ read it, which begs the question: “How many of those live in Brighton?” For my money, it’s not as credible as an independent news and features publication as the Argus because it offers favourable ‘editorial’ with paid adverts, leaving readers wondering just how honest the many supposedly objective reviews inside are. However, one of the best advertising opportunities in the city is the Latest’s ‘Hot List’ listings at £10 per week per entry (minimum of six issues). Very cheap but advertisers tell us it is effective.
EXPENSIVE!!! £650 for a half page ad but this is the posh kid in the class. This glossy magazine looks higher quality than Latest, with its spine and professional front page photography – so it’s a surprise that it’s free. It is delivered to a limited area of the city around the Dyke Road area (ie the posh houses). My feeling is that if you’re selling dental cosmetic treatment or Ferraris, this might be your publication. There are some very high profile celebrity interviews, high end interiors features, travel features and reviews. However, the writing is not up to the standard of Latest. 25,000 copies of Absolute Brighton are distributed around Brighton and Hove and the surrounding areas and it claims to have a readership of 65,000 plus.
Unlike most new kids on the block, you get the feeling Papped is here to stay because it’s a bit different being so photo-based. This monthly publication describes itself as “a photographic review of all that happens in Brighton and Hove”, covering “fantastic events, as and when they happen”. Describes ‘mud wrestlers’ among its key audience, making the point, which I’d agree with, that it has a wide appeal. It’s only £200 for a half page ad but that’s because there are only 10,000 copies of each edition, which are distributed to bars, restaurants, hotels, gyms, other clubs.
This is a bit of a no-brainer. It’s a gay lifestyle mag so is probably the one for you if your audience is the gay community. Worth noting here that, while you might not have thought your audience was necessariy the gay community, Brighton’s gay population is estimated at 50,000. Furthermore half own their own home and 75 per cent are working – so there’s likely to be a bit of spending power there. Gscene is high quality and very independent, which accounts for the fiercely campaigning style of its reportage and comment. There are 20,000 copies distributed in Brighton and Hove, and 10,000 to London and the south coast from Bournemouth to Eastbourne. The editor claims that approximately a further 15,000 readers nationwide download a copy online each month. A good bet at £275 for a half page ad.
Lesbian and gay free newspaper, fortnightly, claims to be for an older, more informed read. Print run of 20,000 but is read by 60,000. A half page ad is £460.
Free Brighton-based parenting magazine and directory. Distributed in local libraries, leisure centres, children’s centres, doctor surgeries and the like. There are three issues a year and the print run is 35,000 (estimated readership 105,000) – distributed across the county. In Brighton, it counts among its advertisers organisations like Brighton Baby Expo, Tumble Tots, St. Aubyns School, Susanna Cassam Music Tuition and Rox School of Dance & Drama – all give glowing references. The cost is £460 for a half page ad.
Free pocket-sized monthly listings guide to Brighton and Hove, launched in 1995, 10,000 copies every month, nearly half distributed to pubs and clubs. In the words of the sales team: “Your advertising has greater potential to be viewed repeatedly in a listings guide more than a magazine as the reader returns to the guide on a regular basis throughout the month to view events.” A half page ad is £275.
Principally a monthly listings magazine, but also contains interviews with local ‘characters’. Distributed in pretty much in every pub, bar, café, record shop and cool clothes shop in the Brighton & Hove area. A very good cheap option at £40 a month for a listing.
Weekly student newspaper of the University of Sussex Students’ Union.
It covers news, reviews, comment and listings. Claims to have secured exclusive interviews with Will Smith and Johnny Depp. Written by students so likely to be more trusted than the official university magazine. A half page ad is £380, which is expensive for its measly print run of 3,000.
Sussex University’s termly glossy mag politics, culture, feature investigations, arts and lifestyle. Again, expensive at £380 for a half page considering the even smaller run of 2,000. But it’s likely to be kept for a longer period than The Badger.
With a print run of 7,000, Brighton University’s Students’ Union newspaper would seem to be better value at £375 for a half page ad.
BEST OF THE REST
In the West of the City, HOVE FACTUALLY is delivered monthly to 5,000 homes in central Hove, 2,700 in the Hove Park area and 3,000 in Hangleton. It’s A5 booklet size and an ad is cheap at only £65 for a half page ad.
In the East, the KEMPTOWN RAG is widely read and well-loved with its eccentric columnists. It’s hand-delivered to 7,000 homes in Kemp Town (note correct spelling) and Queen’s Park.
There are many other publications that are very local. Some are good, some less so. They’re distributed to anything from 5o to 5,000 homes and ads are usually around £80 for a half page but can be as cheap as £10.
I list some of them here:
Seven Dials Directory (9,500 homes), Fiveways Directory (3,000), Hangleton Harbinger, Hanover Herald, Hollingdean News, Knoll Scroll, Mosaic, Moulsecoomb Community Forum Newsletter, North Laine Runner, North Portslade community newsletter, Portslade Pages, QPCV News, Roundhill Reporter, South Portslade newsletter, West Hove News.
Rates are for one-off ads – discounts are nearly always available for bulk purchases.