Adapted from content excerpted from the American Express® OPEN Small Business Network
Whether you're advertising in your local
community newspaper or in People Magazine,
your print ads should look and feel professional.
Use strong copy and eye-catching graphics to focus
the reader on what sets your product or service
apart from the competition - your Unique Selling
Use these tips to help you get your message across
- The headline is the most important part of
any print ad. It must inspire action. It is what
will convince the reader to read more. Take your
time and get it right. Guerrilla Marketing guru
Jay Levinson says that if you spend 10 hours
creating an ad, 9 of those hours should be used
creating the headline.
- Headlines should either convey an idea, or
intrigue the reader to learn more. If your
headline is in the form of a question...ARE YOU
UNDERPAID?...make sure that the answer will
always be YES!!!
- When possible, use color. The response rate
to color ads is significantly higher than that
for black & white.
- The length of your ad copy should be
appropriate to your product or message. Long ad
copy looks informative, and may be useful for
technical products. Short copy leaves plenty of
room for graphics and is a quicker read; use it
if you're advertising an image.
- Keep your message concise. You can't
expect a reader to spend a lot of time with your
ad. Keep it simple. Stress benefits. Emphasize
your USP. Don't beat around the bush or be
too cute. Get to the point. And be very careful
with humor. Not every reader will get your
- Don't use complicated language or jargon.
To prevent yourself from slipping into the jargon
habit, think of this...if you're advertising
in newspaper with a circulation of 100,000, and
just 5% of the readers don't understand a
word in your ad, you've alienated 5,000
- Your ad should talk to your potential
customer, so don't forget about them. Use
"you" instead of "we" in your
copy. Think about what specific needs you fulfill
for them. In addition, many experts recommend
that you think of your ad as speaking to your
potential customers "one at a time." In
other words, the ad should inspire the reader on
a personal level.
- Remember the call to action. What do you want
the reader to do once he/she finishes reading the
ad. Don't let them guess...spell it out -
Write or call for more information; Come in for a
free check-up; Come in today, Sale ends Saturday.
Think of this as how you close the sale.
- Strong graphics make a strong statement. Keep
them focused on your message. Some ad experts
recommend advertisers follow the "rule of
thirds" - one third of an ad should be a
graphic element, one third should be copy, and
one third should be white space (no copy, no
- Too much in your ad makes it look to busy.
You will appear unfocused. Readers will avoid
your message. Very often, less is more.
- Keep the look of your ads consistent. If you
change the copy on a regular basis, don't
change the look. You can create an effective
image by providing continuity and consistency to
- Whatever you do, don't let your ads look
like your competitors' ads. You need to
create a distinct personality for your company.
If your ad looks like one from your competitor,
whose ad do you think the reader will think
he/she is reading?
Copyright © 1995-2016, American Express Company. All Rights Reserved.