Over the years, I've had quite a few conversations with various band owners about print advertising for the Jewish market. I've also experimented with some myself.
In my opinion, and this has been confirmed to me by many I've spoken to who have tried it, print advertising in various local Jewish media doesn't pay. The media are overpriced relative to the benefits, and don't result in increased work, unless you're willing to charge the lowest price.
Note: I'm not talking about a short specific campaign involving articles, free CD's, etc, just a paid listing/ad in the music services section of a newspaper/magazine.
In my own experience, an ad I ran years ago in one paper brought in two types of inquiries...
1) Calls from the paper's competitors trying to sell me ads in their papers.
2) Calls from people who were calling everyone listed in the section and making their decision based solely on price. Since there are other bands advertising in these sections, who have no problem booking a job at below scale, and then sending kids or unqualified musicians out to play it, there is simply no way I could/would compete on price. My expenses are higher because I insist on hiring good musicians, which costs more.
An ad in another publication got me a junk mail subscription. I'm still receiving mail from those folks.
The only benefit some advertisers I spoke to have found, is that in some cases, if people were looking for them specifically, they might find their phone number in one of these papers. That said, if these people were looking for their number and couldn't find it in the paper, they'd still be able to find it, so they didn't see too much benefit in that either.
Obviously, the chance of booking a job off an ad exists, and that's why some still advertise. (There are also some bands who advertise, but don't pay their bills, so it doesn't cost them to do so. This is unethical, of course.) In my opinion though, the price of Jewish advertising in general, and simcha services ads in particular are significantly overpriced.
A few years ago, one of the popular Jewish websites contacted me to try and sell an ad. Their price was absurd. Moreso were their stats. Being new at this, their salesman gave me information he probably shouldn't have. At the time, this website was claiming 40,000-60,000 hits a day. Yet, when I asked for the number of hits to their simcha directory the number of hits was twelve. That is before subdividing those hits into individual categories like music, flowers, makeup, catering halls etc. Needless to say, I told him their rates were quite unreasonable.
I did make a counter-offer which I've since made to a number of other J-media salespeople. That offer? If they'll run a free ad for a short time period, and I book even one gig off it, I'd buy an ad. They've all turned it down. I think these people know that their ads don't work well enough and that's why they won't do it. It's simple really. If an ad venue was productive, I'd obviously pay to keep it. Their unwillingness to stand behind their product is telling.
There is another issue with much of the J-media advertising as well and that is timeliness.
For example, one New-Jersey based J-ad publication, The Network, mailed their Purim issue out late this year and last. The result, it arrived after Purim. This made the color front page ad for Mishloach Manos baskets as well as the various other Purim-related ads inside irrelevant. I'd be pleasantly surprised to hear that they had contacted these advertisers to offer refunds, but I haven't heard that they have, even to the tzedaka with its full page color ad soliciting Matanos L'evyonim.
If anyone has any J-music advertising stories to share, please send 'em on in.