Print Advertising that Gets Results

Have you ever advertised in print and found yourself saying, "That ad or direct mailer didn't work!"? Frustrated you say you will never spend money on advertising again.  This is a common occurrence for small business owners. The business owner usually blames the print advertising vehicle. In reality, there are several reasons why the ad probably did not work. Knowing the proper way to design an ad will help.

  • Know the purpose of your ad, whoyour target market is and what you want them to do? What are your goals for placing this ad?
  • Pick the right advertising vehicle(s).  Advertising salespeople can tell a convincing story as to why you must advertise in their publication. They may say, "You're competitor is doing it. If you don't want to lose business to them, you better advertise in here also." This type of fear motivation should throw up red flags. Beware–do your research before falling victim to these high-pressured sales tactics. Know who your target market is and where you can reach them most effectively.
  • Use proper headlines - Varying statistics all indicate how important the headline of an ad is. Research tells us that you could lose up to 80% of your readers if you do not have an effective headline. So, what makes an effective headline? Not your logo! This is a common mistake business owners and inexperienced graphic designers make. The headline should be clear, have an attention grabbing benefit statement that speaks to the reader. 75% of buying decisions are made at the headline alone.
  • Retain reader interest with proper body copy - A common mistake here is using too many fonts and typestyles such as bold, underline, italic or all CAPS. This is hard on the reader's eye. All those different looks/typestyles don't help the eye flow through the copy easily. Also, the body copy should support the headline. For example, If your store front has a new location, your headline may say, "We've moved to a more convenient location!" Your body copy should then explain in further detail the benefits to the customer of this new location.
  • Have a compelling offer and call to action - Having an offer that will compel someone to pick up the phone and call, stop by your store or visit your website is critical. Using the above example, perhaps there is a grand opening special and open house. The call to action must state what you want the reader to do. Ex: "Please RSVP by..."
  • Have an effectiver ad layout - Your ad layout can do more harm than good if poorly designed.  Your headline should take up about 25% of the real estate in the ad. The logo should be at the bottom of the ad and smaller. Coupons in ads are also good, especially for drawing attention to an offer and tracking results of the ad/offer.  Don't overuse color, fonts or type styles. This is confusing on the reader's eye and may cause the reader to leave your ad.
  • Test your ad prior to print - If you are able, test your ads on people you know will give you honest feedback – existing loyal customers, contacts you know to be your target market, but not existing customers, professionals whose opinion you value, but NOT your friends and family. They hesitate to give honest feedback, because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.
  • Use a qualified graphic designer.  A graphic designer will produce a more effective ad.  When deciding to use a graphic designer, interview them to make sure they are not the type who only cares about how creative and snazzy they can design an ad, but rather how much they care about your ad getting results. They should be asking questions such as, who is your target market, what do you want them to do, what are the benefits of your product or service, what are your goals for this ad, is there a special offer and call to action, etc.  Many people out there claim to be "graphic designers", but do not know even some of these basics. Select your designer carefully. Cheaper is not always better, but you don't have to spend an arm and a leg either.
  • Track your results properly - As a business owner, you and your staff must ask new customers "How did you hear about us?".  Have a system to keep track of these results. Have a spreadsheet on a clipboard next to the phone.  When creating your customer account in your database, figure a way you can record how you got that customer. What promotion or offer prompted them to call, how much do they represent in revenue and how did they hear about your business.  This is all information you need to determine your return on investment. Keep in mind, an ad may make your phone ring, but you need your phone to ring with qualified prospects. Then those qualified prospects need to be converted into actual sales.

Investing money in advertising is a big commitment, as it requires a repetitive schedule to work.  Be sure your ads are effective to get the highest return on investment.  If you need assistance with your advertising please contact us for more information.


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