If you don’t have the budget for glossy magazine advertising or high-profile online ad placement, you might still be able to achieve the results you’re looking for (without spending big bucks) through industry newsletters and listservs.

Think about your target market for a minute. Who are they? Where do they get their news? What groups might they be a part of? What communications are they already receiving that you might piggyback on? There are three big advantages to advertising and partnerships of this kind:

1. They are typically much less expensive than broad-audience media
2. Their publishers are already managing and growing a targeted audience list
3. The viewer has requested these messages, and is more likely to open the it

Not quite sure what we’re talking about here? How about a real life example. I belong to the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), which sends out a monthly newsletter for members. In that newsletter there are important upcoming events, chapter meeting announcements, and editorial content. Even if I don’t read through all of it, I open it and scan through it each month to make sure I don’t miss something great.

What I find scattered amongst those pieces are advertisements. But not just an advertisements — these are from businesses that freelance photographers are very likely to be interested in, and they often contain special offers specifically for ASMP members. I read trade glossy magazines from time to time, but I don’t pay nearly as much attention to the ads I see there as I do to ones that appear in my inbox alongside content I’ve specifically asked for. In the ad below, AgencyAccess is targeting this newsletter’s readers not just as photographers, but also as small business owners just starting out. Strategy!

Once you decide that this avenue is a good fit for you, the first step is to identify a few good publications. Once you do that, here are some questions to ask:

1. Print or digital? Digital might be preferable because it can be less expensive, more engaging (links to your site), and easier to track. But if you cater to an audience that is not so internet-savvy, then print might be for you.

2. What is the cost relative to audience? Once you’ve found your publications, contact them to find out if they offer ad space, how much it costs, and how big (and engaged) their readership is.

3. What formats are available? Does the publisher offer different sizes of ads? Different placements? Can you dictate which article your ad will show up before/after/beside? These decisions can make a big difference for the effectiveness of your campaign.

4. Would they consider writing a piece about you? Often, advertising in a publication is a good way to get editorial coverage you might otherwise have trouble getting. If your business is relevant to their audience and has an interesting story to tell, the publishers might be happy to send a writer your way to do an editorial piece. This kind of 3rd party promotion can be very valuable!

5. Do the accept guest content? While advertising is the more common way to access a newsletter’s audience, it’s definitely worthwhile to ask if the publisher is open to letting you provide original content that will engage their readers and establish you as an authority on a topic.

Once you set up your campaign and it has run, make sure to track the results. And if you’re not set up to collect and analyze the data, the publisher should be able to provide you with some insights. How many clicks did your ad/content get? Did your website statistics see a chance? Have you seen an increase in inquiries or revenue? It’s important to measure these things to see if this marketing strategy has the kind of return on investment you’re looking for and determine if you should add it to your marketing plan.

Have you ever worked with a newsletter or listserv to expose a new audience to your business? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

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