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How To Design
an Effective Print Ad

Secrets of Advertising - Part 2

by Ron Manera, Editor

Advertisers normally come in two flavors - those who create ads "in-house" or those who hire an ad house. For those companies who have chosen the "in-house" route, the resources run from a first time effort in a Word document to a full graphics department ó and everything in between. This article can help those who create their own ads and also give those who hire an artist the ability to evaluate ads created for them.

Five key rules to remember:

1) Grab the eye with a powerful graphic

2) Deliver a strong, focused message

3) Donít confuse with clutter

4) Tell them how to respond

5) Reinforce your brand

Rule 1) Why the powerful graphic? Did you read a paper this morning? Chances are you scanned dozens of ads. How many did you read? Did you view your news on the Internet? You were bombarded by ads. As you drove to work this morning, you may have viewed dozens of bill boards and perhaps a couple of ads on the side of a bus. In a word, "competition." Your ad is competing with thousands of ads seen by your prospect in the course of a day. The vast majority of them are ignored. The first job of ad design: GET THEIR ATTENTION! If you donít get their attention first, it really doesnít matter what else you do right on the ad, does it?

Rule 2) The tendency of an inexperienced ad creator is to attempt to include every possible positive thing about their company in the ad. They want to get their moneyís worth! They want to list, in detail, every feature, every function, every service they deliver now or may in the future. Itís a big mistake. If youíve followed rule #1, you got their eye. Now you have less than a second to tell them something interesting and compelling - or they are gone! Weak, diffused, extensive copy may include more data on your company than your annual corporate report - but if harried, over-exposed viewers donít bother to read it, who cares? Boil your message down to a single, focused, emotive message and make it central to your ad.

Ron Manera, Editor

Every study shows that people make buying decisions for emotional - not intellectual reasons. Give them that opportunity in your message, which should communicate that smart, happy, successful, profitable people have already made the wise decision to do business with your company. Buyers want to feel good with their choice. Help them along!

Rule 3) In competitive photography, there is a rule of thumb: "Crop till it merits." In other words, crop the image until only the essential heart of the image remains. Subtract anything that doesnít add to the theme and impact of the image. The 3rd Rule of Advertising applies much the same logic. Get rid of distractions. Cut your message and your data to only what is needed to back-up your strong, focused message. Remember: If it doesnít add - it subtracts!

Wonít there be a lot of unused space in the ad? Isnít that a waste of a valuable asset? Itís called "white space," and itís vitally important that your ad maintain this space if you want people to read your copy. White space increases readability.

Some advertisers seem to think the viewer is tied up, head propped to face the ad, eyelids held open with toothpicks! The truth is, you cannot force anyone to read your copy - and long text strings are generally ignored.

Consider: Do you really need a fax number in your advertisement? When was the last time you received a fax from someone wishing to buy what you have to sell? Does a prospect really care that youíve been doing business since 1943? Lose the clutter and watch the effectiveness of your ad increase.

Rule 4) Youíve grabbed the eye, youĎve offered a compelling, emotive reason to do business and you havenít lost them in the clutter. Now you must tell them what to do. A phone number, email address or a website serves well as this function. You donít need a lot of dialogue, unless you want them to speak to a specific person or perform some more complex function. Thanks to the Internet and EZine functionality such as The Insider, you can actually incorporate several different links in your ad allowing viewers to click on your contact page, your home page and a demo if you wish.

Rule 5) Always reinforce your brand. Getting your companyís name and image into the marketplace and the mind of your prospects is money in the bank. It may actually be the most important element in your entire ad. For a fuller discussion on the importance of name recognition advertising, see last monthís article: The Secrets of Advertising Part 1 - What National Advertisers Know That You Don't.
















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