trade publication advertising roi

Thought we’d try something new. 

Historically, we’ve always said ‘no’ to accepting articles in our Learning Center from outside contributors, but this one stood out to me.

So I figured, why the heck not.

Out goal is to deliver the best sales and marketing guidance we can to manufacturing folks. And the insights in this article absolutely fit the bill.

In the manufacturing sector, most companies deal with trade publications one way or another. But as you’ll learn below, maybe the true value of these journals simply isn’t being harnessed the right way.

The author of this article, Matt Sciannella, spent his last four years directing all marketing activities in the U.S. and Canada for the welding torch and laser product manufacturer Abicor Binzel.

Just this past month, Matt was offered (and accepted) a position as the director of content marketing at Gravy – the leading customer retention and failed payment recovery service for businesses with recurring payments.

Matt is also a cohost of The Industrial Marketer Podcast.

This post was originally published natively on LinkedIn, but Matt asked if we’d be interested in syndicating it here. I was fully on board.

So on that note, preach, Mr. Sciannella….


How to get (some) bang for your buck advertising with trade publications

by Matt Sciannella

Prints ads suck.

There’s really not a lot of good I can say about advertising in magazines.

You do them because everyone else does them.

You do it because it because it gets you favored status for other related things to your industry trade organization like priority space in the big trade show, committee memberships, getting an article published, etc.

When you do trade industry publications, you recognize a few things immediately as a marketer:

  1. Nobody looks at or notices advertisements on these magazines
  2. Nobody will contact you based on that advertisement; your best hope is they somehow recall your brand when they encounter it in a more direct manner. And even that would require a concerted efforts of thousands of dollars month after month

Truthfully, it’s not a great investment and predicating your ad spend on it isn’t wise in this day and age.

Nevertheless, I recently saw a post from my podcast partner, MJ Peters, asking about how trade publications leverage their core competency to compel advertising from members.

trade journal advertising

And it got me thinking 🤔: There actually is ONE particular offer some trade publications offer that many companies don’t even think to take advantage of that gives you good return.

Unsurprisingly, it’s a digital offer.

Perhaps more surprising, it isn’t web banners on their website or largely non-trafficked buyer directories.

It’s their social media pages.


You might be surprised, but some of these trade publications have pretty robust, 100% organic social media followings. Some of them have smartly offered up that audience to savvy advertisers who know it’s a good way to get some bang for the buck on what’s usually high spend with little return to show.

To give you an example, I’ll show you my own experience with one such publication called Fabricating and Metalworking and how we were able to leverage their 88,000-plus member Facebook page.

First, some good news and bad news on these ad inventory offers:

  • The good news is they are typically underpriced, usually anywhere between $500 and $1,200 compared to a full page print ad, which can set you back five times as much or even more. Seriously, I’ve seen full page ads in small publications listed at $9,000.
  • The bad news is these publications will insist you get some standard ad inventory to take advantage of the social media channel, but you can buy a less valuable print ad or a few web ads, lower your overall spend, and get this much more valuable advertising slot.

For instance, with Fabricating and Metalworking, I got six social media posts on Facebook throughout the year at $800 each for buying two print advertising spots (1/3 page ad at $1,575) and six months worth of banners ads on their website (a little better ROI and far better priced than the print ad at $200 per month, but still very little referral traffic. The value is in the Facebook spot).

The best part about these ads is you can tag your company in these posts, monitor and respond to comments, and track the URL by building a basic UTM parameter or having them send you stats.

Isolating the $800 investment in the post, we shared a product page for a prominent product of ours with a lot of surrounding content nested within the product page.

Here were the results:

social media trade publication

This publisher in particular is also good enough to send you post stats, but again, you can also build UTM parameters to track yourself to either verify or see if there were any leads generated.

results trade journal social media

For an $800 investment, that’s a pretty good return for really not a lot of effort.

And what’s better, you get to jump in as your company in these posts and interact directly with individuals who ask follow-up questions or comments:

social interaction 1 on linkedin

social interaction 2 on LinkedIn

All things being equal, I would still rather spend this money on a Facebook advertisement from my company page.

Even better, I’d like to use Fabricating and Metalworking’s audience as a target parameter (currently not possible, but they’re a great partner so I don’t mind 😁).

But if you’re already doing paid social ads, and looking for ways to get more exposure and access to potential customers unaware of a solution they may need, this is one way to leverage a trade publication audience for little cost and a lot of easy-to-measure return.

Next time you’re up to renew your advertisement with your trade publication, ask them about these kinds of offers and see what they say. Also do your research and look for publications within your industry that have large social followings and inquire about social media posts.

It can be a nice addition to your advertising arsenal if you struggle to gain traction on your own social media channels or don’t feel skilled enough to run paid social media ads.


Looking for more marketing insights? Be sure to check out The Industrial Marketer Podcast, Matt’s weekly podcast with MJ Peters.

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