There is an art and a science to creating effective print ads; it differs from best practices for online advertising. When you want to make the most of your print advertising, the messaging and design are critical to pulling in the highest ROI for your efforts and expense.
Print advertising growth is up 11.5% from 2017 according to a
recent study from Ad Age.
Therefore, print advertising is not dead.
Recently we were asked by Earthlite, the most recognized designer and manufacturer of massage tables, to create several product ads for their high-end portable massage table. We created a series of three ads to be placed in various massage and spa publications, each tailored to the readership of those publications.
Here are the key components necessary for creating a great ad that will convert.
You’ve heard it all before – stand out from the crowd, cut through the noise, be distinct.
Sure, it’s great advice. But how?
First, you need to identify the benefits of the product. Not the benefits of the product from your standpoint, but from the prospect or customer’s standpoint. Answer the question: How will buying this product relieve the buyer’s source of pain?
Second, know your competitors. The buyers do. What can you offer that they can’t? How is what you’re offering different? Find a niche you can fill, and fill it boldly.
Once you are crystal clear on these factors, express them concisely in the ad’s title headline, which is foundational for the ad to be read.
Grab Their Attention
Develop a powerful headline
You have two seconds to capture the reader. Make the headline like a hammer, not a marshmallow. Be creative with typography design and its placement.
Use Compelling Imagery
The photography or illustration must tell a story that is supported by the headline concept. Ordinary stock photography won’t cut it.
What Do You Want the Reader to Do?
You have two seconds to grab the reader’s attention to take an action. Make it obvious what you want the reader to do.
Click to see ad:
While imagery and color selection are important, virtually everything rests on the headline. If it does not connect with the prospect, they will turn the page. The headline needs to clearly express the benefit of the product. It should “speak” directly to the prospect and emotionally connect with them. The reaction needs to be immediate.
How is this achieved? By researching your target audience, understanding their perspective and translating that visually. Specifically, what words do they use to describe their problem? Think back on the phone conversations you’ve had with customers. Re-read your email interactions. Scan blog comments. Look for commonalities in the language being used by your prospects. Sometimes, your prospects will give you the exact words you can use in your ads.
Surprise and delight your prospects with words they will immediately relate to.
What Do You Want the Prospect to Know?
What’s it all about?
This is not the time to be shy…shout about the one difference your product or service provides. Pick one compelling idea and tell the story around that.
Size the product so it makes sense in relationship to the other elements in the ad. Allow space around it which will draw the eye towards it.
Give the ad full brand recognition
Your logo needs to breathe and not be cluttered with unnecessary elements.
Click to see ad:
Create a clear call to action. What do you want the prospect to do next? Are you providing a discount for the product or service? What about asking them to visit your booth at the next conference for a free giveaway. Getting them engaged with your offer will increase the ad’s effectiveness.
A surprising number of ads aren’t clear on what the reader is supposed to do. The obvious question in the prospect’s mind after reading over your ad is, “What’s next?” Answer that question! Get them to go to a specific URL, call a toll-free number to get in touch with a salesperson or have them email you. Don’t leave the reader hanging. Visually direct and guide the reader to the next step.
Use Eye-Catching Imagery
Eye-catching imagery plays a vital role in every ad. It needs to complement and support the copy – especially the headline – and never take away from the message. As already noted, the headline holds the key to unlocking your prospect’s interest. If the images you use distract from the message, your ad isn’t going to reach its full potential.
“Paper-based reading stimulates emotions, drives sensory involvement,
provides more focused attention and is preferred by a majority of people.”
On the Bay Magazine
Use images that:
- Are congruent and consistent with your messaging.
- Have a metaphorical meaning between the content and imagery.
- Are complementary to the headline.
- Create an emotional response.
- Are unique but familiar. Avoid stock images, but use imagery that your prospects can easily identify with and relate to.
Above all, keep it simple. Too many images will water down your message, making the ad confusing or muddled.
Does Your Logo Breathe?
Don’t bury the logo by making it too small or too close to the gutter. Give it plenty of room to breathe. Couple it with only the most pertinent housekeeping information. As with images, your logo needs to support the headline and never detract from the message of the ad. Don’t merely add your logo as an afterthought. Give it the space it deserves and make it a predominant feature on the ad.
Focus Your Ideas
What’s right or left?
Consider right or left ad placement in the publication when designing the ad. Negotiate with the publication and ask for a right-facing page. They get the most eyes inside the book. (unless it’s the inside front cover)
What’s in it for the reader?
It’s best to direct the reader to an action such as visiting a website, visit a tradeshow booth or to make a direct inquiry.
Click to see ad:
Start with the headline. Find supporting imagery. Write copy that supports the headline. Finally, create a clear call to action. When you use eye-catching images, people will instantly be drawn to it. These images can help you stand out from your competition and set you apart. This is especially true considering ad growth is up 11.5% from 2017 according to a recent study from Ad Age.
Once all the core elements are in place, edit mercilessly. Remove excess language, imagery or anything that doesn’t support the core theme and message of the ad.
If you want your ad to be successful, your messaging needs to be clear and concise. You don’t want to include more than you need to compel the reader to action. An effective ad is one that gets the prospect to act. Anything that gets in the way of the call to action will result in a lack of responsiveness from the readers and the ad will be ignored.
So, keep your purpose focused throughout the ad. There’s no room for clutter here.
Consumers trust print ads more than any other channel and 95%
of people under the age of 25 still read magazines.
On the Bay Magazine
When creating print adversting, always ask yourself:
- What does my target audience want most?
- How is the product going to solve my prospect’s problem?
- How can I stand out from the competition?
- How can I back up the claims of the product and create faith in it?
Then, answer these questions in a clear and concise manner. Grab the prospect’s attention up front and get them to act. Exposure is nice, but if you’re looking for ROI, you need to make your ads all about your prospects. Remember…including content marketing and social media to support your ad campaign will greatly increase your ROI.
Are you looking for help with your next ad campaign? Are your ads not as effective as you want them to be? Contact Comet Creative’s Client Services expert, Nikki Unwin, today by sending a message or by calling 760.729.8205.