October Tips: Better Print Ads

Putting Print in its Place

Once the workhorse of the advertising world, Print still has its place. Print is tangible. It's personal. Lasting. It touches the reader in a way the digital world longs for. It reaches out to the prospect and drives him to your site. Whether print supports online, or vice versa, orchestrated and integrated, print is now liberated to concentrate on what it does best... grab and inform a targeted prospect, and then tell him where to go.

If you want customers knocking at your door, your print advertising must stand out from the crowd. It isn't witchcraft. Creating effective advertising comes down to two things... hard work and great creative. True, there's no magic formula, but there are guidelines. In the spirit of the season, we'd like to treat you to few goodies from our little bag of tricks.

1. Boo!
Get the readers attention. Treat your reader to an arresting headline. The trick is to stop the reader just long enough to start reading your ad. Shorter is more memorable but there's no magic number of words. A headline should be as long as it takes to get the point across. Precisely.

2. Bewitch, Don't Beguile
Choose a visual that reinforces the headline. Together they should summarize your sales pitch. Don't haunt the reader with complicated imagery or unrelated pictures. Dramatic visuals help readers absorb and remember your message. If at all possible, go four-color. Color pulls 40% better than black & white but costs only 30% more.

3. Don't Lose Your Head
Your headline stopped the reader, expand on it. Treat the lead paragraph as your only chance to pull the reader into your copy. Follow through on your headline or the reader will vanish.

4. Layout Eye-Candy
Your layout should be a treat for the eyes. Make it visually appealing, but not fancy. Don't clutter, clash, or complicate. Make it clean and fat-free. Never reverse body copy. Make your ad friendly, inviting, and most importantly... easy to read.

5. Avoid Scary Spells
Treat your reader to clear, conversational body copy. Your company's friendly, so write friendly. Use short sentences. Don't scare the reader away with sesquipedalian disquisitions. (Never send a reader to the dictionary.)

6. Your Customer's Costume
Become your customer. Write with the reader in mind, then read through the customer's eyes. Treat their interests as your own. Go ahead, toss-out tasty tidbits of product information, but always explain how and why important to the reader.

7. More Gremlins. Few Monsters.
Choose frequency over size. It's more effective to run a quarter-page ad four times than a full-page ad once. Not everyone reads every issue. If money is no object, a one-page ad is the best buy. Two-page spreads get only 30% more readership, but cost twice as much.

8. The Leaves are Turning
Request special positioning for your ad. The best pages, in order are: inside front cover, outside back cover, inside back cover, and facing the table of contents. In general, the closer to the front the better. A right-hand page beats a left. Facing editorial is better than facing an ad. For fractional ads, keep on top of the page, stay to the outside and out of the gutter.

9. Don't Be Afraid to Ask
To get you gotta ask. First, decide what you want the reader to do. Next, for goodness sake, let him know. Make your offer clear, and action easy. A free booklet, sample, consultation, estimate, evaluation. Show a picture if possible. Offer a bonus for prompt response.

10. If it Does the Trick... Stick
Advertisers get bored, and agencies get hungry. However, avoid the temptation to pull an old ad that still does the trick. Stick with an ad until response drops fall or until the message is outdated. Good ads can pull just as effectively from issue to issue, for decades. (We have clients who've been running the same ads for years. We miss the work, but love the results.)

Are your print ads producing? If not, email us or give us a call at 703-591-0100 for a no-obligation consultation.

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