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6 tips for creating a print ad that actually works

June 19th, 2008 · 17 Comments · Copywriting, Marketing, Strategy

Stethescope Let’s be honest.  Most print ads in newspapers and magazines stink.  We flip through the publications without a glance at the ads or their offers.

How can you avoid being nothing more than a blur?

Make sure your headline has stopping power

If your headline is a snooze, your ad will go unread. It’s that simple. Intrigue them, challenge a common belief, ask a question or throw your offer up there – but do not be dull.

Your ad is not about you

Consumers care about their lives and their needs. Not you. So don’t waste valuable ad space talking about you. Help them understand how or why you can help them.  Talk to them about what matters to them.

One message

If your audience can only remember one thing from your ad what do you want it to be?  Don’t overload the ad with every benefit and feature to your offering. Stay focused on your main point and don’t take the readers off on a bunch of tangents.

Short and sweet

Write the copy that you want to include in your ad. Now cut it in half. It’s a painful process but it forces you to really think through your message.  After you cut it in half, cut it again by a third. Now…you have boiled down to the bare essentials.

Say it visually

The visual you select for your ad is critical. It should help advance the story.  It should not be trite – the same photo everyone else would choose.  You don’t always have to be literal. If you’re going into a trade publication where everyone used a set of trite images to convey the same message, avoid those images like the plague!  Ask yourself "what visual would communicate the message but also surprise the reader?"  That’s a winner.

Make your offer clear and compelling

Every ad has one job.  To advance the reader to the next step.  Visit your website, call your 800 number, clip the coupon.  Whatever it is you want them to do…be clear.  And give them a reason to do it now, rather than a few weeks from now.

Print advertising can be a very effective tactic.  But most people don’t make the most of the ads they buy.  Don’t waste good money on bad ads.

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