Create Effective Advertisements

Advertising, media, message, word cloud

Advertising in the most appropriate print-based publications can be expensive. That's why, you can save money by carrying out research to establish what works best for your print or online ads today. Some of the suggestions in the tips below may surprise you, yet all are based on sound research and different studies of human behavior from reputable sources.

Consider the following guidelines when crafting your own ads for print (experiment for use online too):

  • Summarise your entire ad in the headline. Why? Your reader may not properly read the remaining body text in your ad. Even worse, perhaps today, few will get beyond headlines. Therefore, this way, you can make sure the key message is shared providing your reader sees the headline.
  • Include the main benefit of your ad in the headline. Why? Benefits provide those all-important emotional links. Every ad should have a chief benefit, otherwise, why should readers respond?
  • Think benefits, then more benefits. If you include the core benefit in both your headline and your body text, you not only ensure that you get your core message across immediately, you also get two chances to communicate the primary benefit to your reader.
  • Make the text size of the ad headline considerably larger than the body text. Why? To ensure the most important text in your ad is given the best chance of getting noticed.
  • Carefully evaluate the best length to use for your ad headline. Why? Sometimes, short, snappy ad headlines of less than about 5 words work best. For other situations, longer headlines may give better results.
  • When creating headlines that include values — such as a price for example — insert the number as digits instead of in written form For example: in advertising, $19 makes a bigger impact than nineteen dollars. And don't you think $1,000,000 looks sweeter than one million? Yet why? During decades of advertisement conditioning, we've become accustomed to take more notice of money when represented as digits and the symbols that money uses. A headline containing digits usually attracts more attention, which results in more people reading or scanning the headline. The more targeted people who read your ad, the more sales you stand to make.
  • Insert your headlines where your readers expect to find them. Why? If a headline is sited in an "odd" location, some readers can, for a few precious seconds, puzzle and obsess on why the headline is where it is. When that happens, their concentration flow gets interrupted and your readers are not focusing on your important sales message.
  • If you use a photo in your ad, do include a caption under the image. Why? Studies have shown that readers scan captions twice as much as they read the body copy of an ad. Many people resist reading but will scan headlines and a caption is a type of headline. That means captions can be highly influential. Some readers may even scan photo caption before reading the body copy of your ad. Don't underestimate the power of using a caption in your ad.
  • Make sure that the words you use in your caption are tailored to help sell the product or service, rather than simply describing what is in the photo. Why? Since captions can be read more often than body text, make your image caption contribute directly to the sales process. Ideally, include a benefit in your buying benefit in your caption.
  • Place a logo where readers expect to see a logo. Don't place a logo in an unusual location. Why? For the same reasons as outlined above.
  • If an ad is tailored for one gender, you may choose to show only images of the same gender in your ad. So if you're selling to women, you may only show photos of women. However, occasionally break your own rules: test what happens if you include some ads with men. If advertising only to men, you may show only men in your ads. However, likewise, test by including women. Why: men and women can be influenced by each other as well as those from the same gender. You may discover surprises. We humans are social animals: reflect that.
  • If you're targeting both men and women, your image choices can show both men and women. However likewise, if appropriate, consider testing images including children too. Why: such settings can be more natural.
  • If your ad is about children only, of course show children in your images, yet also optionally include, men and women too (parents, guardians, grand-parents, etc). Why: men and / or women will often be the acutal buyers for the product or the service, so can imagine themselves "in the scene". Care-givers naturally love to be included.
  • In your ad photos that include people, by all means, show "ideal personalities" but at the same time, real, believable, natural. Why? Few of us look and behave like supermodels. When your prospects reads the ad, for a few moments, in the mental movie that "plays" in their minds, they can see themselves as the person in the ad. So if the people in your ad are too far removed, your readers, viewers may ignore or "downgrade" your ad. What seems not relevant or meaningful gets missed, omitted, bypassed.
  • Show the product or service in action rather than just the packaging that the product or service may come in. Why? When your photo shows the product being used, your prospect can more easily imagine them doing the same. Packaging however, if it does not include human action is often seen as faceless and therefore not relevant.
  • Don't do anything in your ad that can pull your readers' attention away from the action you're suggesting they choose. The main purpose of your ad is to persuade your reader to take one specific action — place an order, make a phone call, fill in a form, subscribe, and so on. Make sure everything you do focuses the reader on your core goal.
  • Experiment with different ad styles and ad positioning. Why? You can use different fonts, typefaces, text sizes, image placements and ad positions to determine what works best. To help find the best ad locations for use online, Google have already carried out a considerable amount of excellent research for their AdSense programs. You can check them out on Google AdSense Help — Ad Implementation In fact, a considerable amount of useful advertising-related information is available from Google AdSense Help.
  • Test different kinds of ads against each other. Why? Sometimes, short ads work best. In other situations, longer ads work better. Sometimes, an ad with a short headline may outperform an ad with a longer headline. Whereas in a different scenario, a longer headline may cause sales to rocket. The only sure way you'll know what works best is through testing. Test an ad against another ad, then test the winner against a third ad. After several such loops, you can usually identify the top two performing ads that you'll most likely want to use. From time to time, create new ad versions and test these against your latest best performing ads. Keep a record of your test sequence and results.
  • Your main goal is to identify to which ads your readers or viewers react best. Ads that are in keeping with expectations can work well. However, so can ads that surprise, enthral, even shock your readers or viewers. Your ad doesn't have to be "liked" to succeed.
  • Test expectations. Experiment. Adapt. Evolve. Sometimes, you may even break conventions, to see what happens — though think through your rationale carefully before doing so. 

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