Small-space advertisers help you sink or swim: Affordable Color

April 11, 2014


 run Ken’s Pet Emporium and I’ve been a faithful advertiser in your newspaper for 30 years.

My ad budget is $84 a week for a three-column by 4-inch ad. No, I’m not a big advertiser but I’ve been there with you for more than 1,500 consecutive issues.

This week, I want to do something different and special.

My inventory of tropical fish is getting way out of hand, so I want to run a special for my bodacious Neon Blue Dwarf Gouramis.

These little dudes are dazzling, and wouldn’t it be great if they were shown in their entire South Pacific splendor in my ad?

Sally the ad rep thinks so, too.

“Would it cost any more to run a full color picture of them in my ad?”

I ask Sally.

“Well, yes,” says Sally.

“How much.”

“$150 says Sally.”

“Did you say $150?”


I’d need to sell a tank-full just to cover the cost of the color.

So I tell Sally to run the picture in black and white. When the ad appears, my bodacious Neon Blue Dwarf Gouramis from the South Pacific look like east side Cleveland sewer carp.


Fish Story Moral

And the moral of this fish story for hometown newspapers is:

Appreciate your small space advertisers and make process color affordable for them.

Too many newspapers have a single rate for process color. It costs the same for a sixteenth page or full page.

Instead, charge by the column inch or page unit. Relative to space, the small space advertiser will still pay more, but the price will then fit his or her budget.

For example:

Your charge for process color is $150 per page.

Offer the following rate or a version of it that will make process color a reality for the Ken’s Pet Emporium ad.

(Broadsheet example.)

Two dollars per column inch for process color up to 65 column inches, minimum $50 charge; $1.50 per column inch for 66 column inches and above; $150 for full page.

Or, 25 percent cost of ad minimum of $50 and maximum of $150.

Or, for modular units (more often used for tabloid papers):

1/16 page - $25

1/8 page - $25

1/4 page - $50

1/3 page - $75

1/2 page - $100

Full page - $150



Of course the charges will vary according to your cost for process color, but you get the picture.

You may ask, how do I cover the cost of process color if there is only one color ad on the page?

Of course, the key is to sell several small color ads on the same page. Together, they’ll bring in much more than the cost.

Or, even if there is only a single color ad on the page, it will still help pay much of the cost for color news photos on the page.

But the important thing is to do all you can to help the blessed small-space advertiser enjoy the luxury and impact of process color.

In other words, it’s to make him or her feel like a big fish in a little pond. © Ken Blum 2014

Ken Blum is the publisher of Butterfly Publications, an advising/speaking/publishing business dedicated to improving the profitability and quality of community newspapers. He puts out a monthly free e-mail newsletter titled Black Inklings. It features nuts and bolts ideas to improve revenue and profits at hometown papers. To subscribe to the newsletter or contact Ken, e-mail him at; or phone to 330-682-3416.

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