Marketing for Small Business, Part III

SEMA Member News—March/April 2013 

Marketing for Small Business, Part III

Print Material

By Regis Finn


There are still many consumers in our industry who read magazines, so print advertising has a unique value.
There are still many consumers in our industry who read magazines, so print advertising has a unique value.

We discussed the importance of attending consumer-based shows and events in the May/June 2012 issue of SEMA Member News and inexpensive ways to promote a business on the web in the November/December 2012 issue. In this third installment, we’ll discuss the need or lack of need for print material for a small business.

In recent years, the automotive specialty-equipment industry has seen a heavy move away from printed material to a much larger Internet or electronic presence. It is my opinion that the pendulum has swung too far to the Internet side. There are still many consumers who read printed material. Some, in fact, believe that any true car lover will have a large stack of magazines and catalogs in both their bathrooms and bedrooms. How many of us take a computer to the bathroom with us? Who takes a computer to bed with them? Sometimes it’s just nice to disconnect from the electronic side of things.

Magazine Ads

The market has changed, but I still feel strongly that print ads have their value. There are still many who read our industry’s print magazines. And look at the average age of our consumers. Many of our customers don’t know how or don’t want to operate a computer. How do you expect to reach these customers if you rely solely or heavily on the Internet to get your message in front of them?

When someone buys a print magazine, he or she usually holds on to it for a while. People read magazines a number of times. They also see the publication’s ads a number of times. This is not necessarily the case with Internet-based ads. Internet ads usually appear in a rotation with ads from various companies. If the customer refreshes or leaves that page, the ad is gone.


I love flyers. They are easy to make, inexpensive to print and carry real value. They can be included in the packaging of other products you make, can be distributed at car shows and other events or can be left on the counter of your local performance outlet.

Business Cards

Many attempts have been made to replace business cards with some type of electronic media, only to see that media fall short in its reach. I recommend that business cards be clean, easy to read and not cluttered with a bunch of junk. Leave the back side blank so you can make notes before handing them off to customers or clients.


Full-line catalogs might be the one area of print marketing that makes sense to be replaced with a CD or other electronic media. Catalogs are extremely expensive to print and can consume a very large part of a business’ overall marketing budget.

Let’s revisit the fact that some customers do not use the Internet. What do we do? I recommend printing a very limited number of simplified catalogs and giving the consumer the option of a print or a digital version. The digital version can be on a CD or on a thumb drive.

Digital copies are much cheaper to produce. The customer picks the media he or she feels most comfortable with, and everyone is happy. This strategy keeps costs to a minimum while still getting product information in front of customers.

Most people don’t want to carry a catalog around with them at an event or have them piled a mile high at home. I’ve seen more new catalogs in the trash cans than leaving with potential customers at trade shows and events. Take the SEMA Show, for instance. Try carrying around 30 catalogs all day. As soon as you get tired, the catalogs end up in the trash. CDs or thumb drives weigh very little compared to catalogs.

Strategic use of print and electronic media is the best bet. Be sure to check the next issue of SEMA Member News for Part IV of our series on marketing for small business.