Seven Tips for Creating a Successful Print Ad

2009/03/17 at 10:03 am (Article)

1. Headlines at the top, not logos!

Many small business owners make the mistake of thinking that advertising their business means putting a great big logo or business name at the top of their ad. Sure it might make your friends comment that they saw your ad, but the hard truth is no one else cares. What will grab people’s attention is a headline that creates interest or is relevant to them. Leave names logos, and contact details for the bottom of the ad.

2. Don’t make it all about you!

As a general rule using words and phrases that personalize a message will create more interest in what you have to say, this goes for headlines and body copy. Using words such us you and your will get more interest than words like us and ours. For example you might want to say:

“We have the best pizzas in town”

But you will be more likely to get people paying attention if you change it to:

“Have you tried the best pizzas in town?”

Always remember people are unconsciously thinking “what’s in it for me” when they skim past ads, and if it’s all about you there is nothing to catch their attention.

3. Less is more.

Don’t think that just because you are paying good money for your ad space that you should clutter it with huge amounts of information about your business. Often people will find more than a few lines too overwhelming, especially in a small ad and they just won’t bother reading it. Keep it simple and relevant to the message that you started out with in the headline. Just because you offer a range of services doesn’t mean you need to explain every single one in your ad.

4. What next?

Give people a reason to respond to you ad, it’s called a “call to action”. This can be as simple as saying “call today” or “visit this website”, but a really effective call to action could be a time limited special offer. You see big retail chains using this all the time, you know the ad, “ Up to 50% off this weekend only……”

Anyway the point is; give your prospects a prompt as to what you want them to do next, because if they get to this part of an ad they must have some interest.

5. A picture tells a thousand words…..sometimes.

If you are using a picture in your ad there are some simple things to remember to help make it work.
– Don’t put text over the picture, this obscures the photo and makes the text hard to read.

– If using a picture of a product, try to use one of the product in use, this helps to paint positive mental pictures, e.g. photo of a group of friends laughing and chatting over coffee is generally more appealing than a photo of a cup of coffee.
– Don’t use pictures unless they are good quality and relevant to the rest of the ad. If the picture is a bad piece of clipart or something irrelevant to your ad it will put people off or confuse them.

6. Getting Artistic.

When it comes to colours and fonts, keep it simple, in general a good old white background with black text is going to be the easiest for people to read, and will look more professional than a bunch of fonts and colours. If you are using coloured backgrounds make sure that the font you use are clear enough to be read easily.

In general keep away from script style fonts as they are harder to read and will put people off. Also try not to use more than two fonts in an ad as it makes it look to messy.

7. When in doubt…

Hopefully tips 1-6 have given you a basic understanding of print advertising. But if you have the resources I always recommend consulting a professional. This is especially true for the graphic design stage; a good graphic artist will be able to turn your rough layout into a really professional ad.

Some print publications will offer graphic design for free when you buy ad space. If this is the case make sure you are clear with the layout as this staff artist might be overworked and underpaid and could get a bit lazy with the layout of the ad unless they have something to follow.
If you don’t have the time or you are not a confident writer it is always advisable to get professional help with the complete advertising concept. After all your investment in advertising space is wasted if the ad you put there is not up to scratch.

By:Saadi Allan,

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