Getting the Most Out of Your Print Advertising

By Zoë-Lynn Cohen

I often hear business owners complain that they haven’t received the response they expected from their advertising effort. In frustration they exclaim “What am I doing wrong!” Upon further examination I frequently find that the ad ran only once, or the ad lacked a purposeful image and message. I usually explain that an effective ad is well designed to get the reader’s attention, has a clear informative message, and that it must run repeatedly in a targeted publication.

Since time and space prohibit me from covering all the ways to put together an effective ad, I will cover the basics to get us on our way.

First, the ad must draw the reader’s eye by using imagery and graphics. The method will vary based on the size of your ad and whether you are using color or black and white but any ad can be effective. With this in mind the best place to start is by looking at your current marketing efforts. Are there existing photographs and branding elements that could be utilized in your advertising? If so, use them first. If not, start by looking at photographs and graphics that can be used to get your message across. You can also draw inspiration from your industry or the idea behind your headline to develop the imagery and graphics. You may want to make your headline the graphic element by making it the main focus. It should be larger than all the other text making it more pronounced. To give it more strength put the headline in a different font that compliments the logo. Consider putting the headline on a curve or adding sharp contrast by reversing the background and text from the rest of the copy. Finally don’t forget the all important logo for recognition.

Now that you have the reader looking make sure that you provide them with a clear informative message. Focus on what is important to the reader; what can you do for them, what sets you apart from your competitor? If you have won awards feel free to brag, let the reader in on what makes you worth contacting. Just remember that you need to keep your message clear and to the point. There is usually not much room so if you have a lot to say bulleting the main points is very helpful. Remember that unless you are advertising in a journal about your industry stay away from industry jargon.

The last part of your ad will be the contact information which usually accompanies the logo. Make sure that you include all ways to contact your company; phone, mail and email. Include your website information and let your website pick up where the ad leaves off. If you don’t have a website, that is entirely different article which I will discuss next time.

You are probably feeling pretty good knowing that you have created an effective ad, but don’t stop here. Next you will need to select a publication that targets your audience. Since this is no easy task, you will need to either do some research or speak to a marketing consultant to guide you.

After you have narrowed your target audience and selected the publication, the next step is to determine the size of the ad, when it will run and the duration. If you are like most companies the budget will be a determining factor. Before you make your decision consider that repetition of your ad is crucial. Advertising is all about reaching the audience repeatedly over a period of time.

Before deciding on when and how long to run your ad think about your objectives. What are your goals? Do your goals coincide with other marketing efforts? Is your business seasonal? All of these questions will help you determine the length of time you want to advertise. A general guideline would be a minimum of six issues. This will of course vary depending on the frequency of the publication (daily, weekly, monthly). If running a large ad quickly consumes your entire budget you may need to look at reducing the ad size to afford a longer run. Publications offer different rates for placing ads in multiple editions. Consult with the sales representative to learn about rates or any specials they may be offering.

When advertising in other publications whether it is a phone book, newspaper, or magazine you can take your ad and simply have it resized to the publishers specifications. This consistency in appearance will make you more recognizable and help keep your design costs down.

A good tip when running ads in multiple locations is to track the responses. Ask the caller where they read about you? Over time you will find what publications are reaching your customers and you will be able to focus your efforts to get the most out of your advertising budget.

Advertising can be an effective tool. Remember to present a good image with a clear message. Afterwards run the ad repeatedly in the right publications to achieve your goals.


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