TFP for Advertising – Probably Not a Good Idea

I was looking at my blog stats, and I saw someone came to my site searching for ‘tfp for advertising’, and it seemed like a good idea for a post. Let’s talk about giving free photography to a publication for free advertising. In my experience, publications that offer this probably do not have the draw to give you a reasonable number of leads. (Just so we’re clear, a lead is someone who looks at your ad, likes it, desires your services, calls you and can afford the cost.)

See, advertising is a bit like gambling. It all boils down to probability. Of course, there’s the mountains of statistical information you can sift through to improve your odds (what kind of person is more likely to desire my services, and how can my ad appeal to them?), but understand that no advertising will guarantee you leads.

Let’s assume that 10% of readers notice your ad and look at it, instead of flipping past it. If you have less than a full page ad, chances are good that your ad could go unnoticed. Oh well! Now, let’s say that 50% of folks that saw it, liked it. Well, many people will look at your ad, like it, but not have any need for a photographer at the time. Let’s say 10% of the folks that liked your ad actually want to hire a photographer at the time they see your ad. A percentage of those folks will have been inspired by your ad to hire you specifically and may call right away, while some other folks will be ‘shopping around’, looking at several photographers’ advertisements, and may never call. In any case, let’s say 5% of them actually call you. Finally, let’s say about of those callers 25% of those callers can afford your services, and 25% of those people actually book you. These are pretty generous estimates.

So, if we start with a readership of 100,000, we can estimate:
10,000 notice your ad
5,000 like it
500 shopping for photog
25 calls
6 qualified
1 booking

There is a massive rate of attrition between a magazine’s readership and the number of qualified leads an ad can generate. The more eyeballs a magazine has, the more likely it is for you to have potential clients call. So, you need to find the answers to a few questions: Is this a magazine you would choose to advertise in? Are the readers of this magazine going to be interested in your services? Can they afford it? Are there enough of them to generate leads? Before you sign on, find out it if you’re just wasting effort on a statistically unlikely venture.

Point blank: If it’s not worth doing, don’t do it. It’s far better to shoot paid work, and make your own advertising decisions.

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