How do you create effective print advertisements? If you have decided to run an ad in your local paper or other publication, the ad salesman may have told you they could create the artwork for you if you send them the content. So, what comes next? Successful print advertising has these six components.
- Objective. Before you create your ad, figure out what your objective is. Why do you want to run this ad? Do you want them to call you? Visit your website? Request a free report? Take advantage of a sale? Pick one single message and stick with it.
- Target market. Who are you trying to reach? Effective ads talk to a key problem or concern your target market is having. Define your ideal customer and develop your ad with him or her in mind.
- Headline. Your headline is your advertisement for your ad. It should grab prospects’ attention and get them to read more.
- Marketing message. Answer the question “What’s in it for me?” Your ad should tell prospects exactly what they will get if they take advantage of the offer. It should stress benefits, not features and follow the principles of AIDA (attract attention, generate interest, arouse desire, take action).
- Offer. What are you offering? What do prospects get when they take advantage of your ad? Consider making your offer time-specific, so prospects must act within a certain time frame.
- Call to action. Tell people exactly what they should do to take advantage of your offer. Your call to action should be specific, such as “call now for your free trial membership” or “visit www.mywebsite.com to download your free special report.” Always give them the next step.
Don’t try to cram as much info as possible into a small space, but introduce only the elements you absolutely need to state your objective as clearly as possible. Your text should share its general intent with the headline, and any pictures you use should add clarity to the overall communication.
Remember that the goal is to communicate your objective, not to use gimmicks to grab the viewers’ attention. Don’t try to be clever or creative. In general, the greater the integration between all elements of your ad, the quicker and easier it is for the viewer to take away the maximum impact of your objective.
Designing Effective Print Advertisements
Nowadays, with desktop publishing tools like Adobe Indesign or Microsoft Publisher readily available, and with the ease of gaining fonts and stock photos, it is tempting to utilize as many elements as possible to distinguish your ad from everyone else’s. That’s not always the best strategy when trying to communicate a specific objective. A good design layout adhering to basic layout principles is key to making your ad readable and understandable. Some design tips include:
- Emphasis – Make the most important elements of the ad the most prominent and the easiest to pick out at a glance.
- Balance – Good ads can either be symmetrical or asymmetrical in layout, but they should be balanced in terms of elements that make up the composition. Try grouping similar content together and counterbalancing groups with another element of your composition. Stick with about 3 groups of text content – the headline, the bulk of the text, and a smaller group of text. Too many elements clutter up the ad and make the reader guess where to start.
- Fonts – Pick 2 non-competing fonts for the ad. Competing fonts tend to be fonts that look very similar but aren’t – such as Verdana and Arial. It is much better to use contrast when picking fonts, such as a serif (with “feet” like Times New Roman) and a san serif (like Arial) font together, or a script font with non-script font. Use one for the bulk of the text and another for headlines. Keep the format of similar headlines the same style (bolded and underlined, for instance). Try to avoid vertically stacked text and large portions of rotated text, both of which are hard to read.
- Alignment – Try to keep one alignment consistent throughout the document. For example, have the edge of a picture line up with the text of the headline or have the headline at the top of the composition line up with the text column at the bottom of the composition.
Evaluating the Results
As advertising is not an exact science, if you find your ad isn’t as successful as you had hoped, try something else. Repeated exposure of an unsuccessful ad will not improve performance rate. If your ad is working, repeat its usage a couple of times. Frequency will help in your branding strategy and will aid in the long-term campaign success.