Creating Effective Advertisements

Tips and techniques for a successful ad campaign

Learning to create a good advertisement is a vital business skill, and it is arguably one of the most important sales and marketing skills you can obtain. What follows are the top 10 secrets to creating effective advertisements that will gain results.

1) Create a Compelling Headline

It is the headline that makes the rest of the ad work. Every headline has one job: grab the readers' attention. To do that, create a headline that delivers a believable promise. The best headlines appeal to people's self-interest or give news. Long headlines that say something are better than short ones that say nothing. If you come up with a good headline, in most cases you will have a successful ad. Remember that the greatest body copy cannot overcome a poor headline.

2) Use Simple Words

When you finish writing your copy, have someone who is around 16 years old read it. If they do not understand a certain word or phrase, change it. Even people who are very educated do not mind reading simple words.

3) Copy Length

Use as many words as it takes to tell the complete story about your product or service. If it takes a lot of words, so be it. If the ad is of interest to the reader they will read all the copy you give them. Always write more than you will need, then trim it down. When you are done, it will be all "meat." Every word will have a reason for being there, giving the reader all the facts needed to make a buying decision.

4) Get to the Point

This is similar to tip number three—be direct and just state benefits. In fact, you should start off with the best benefit. This way you will have a better chance of keeping the reader with you. Do not stop with telling about all the benefits the reader will get, also tell them what they will miss if they do not buy. Ask for action at the end. Interested people reading your ad will want to know what to do, so tell them.

5) Use Pictures

When you use pictures, remember that they are in the ad to help sell goods. Your pictures should tell a story at a glance. The picture you use should be of the product, the product in use or the results of using the product.

6) Repeat the Same Ad

Many advertisers change campaigns too often. But remember, you get tired of seeing your ad long before the public does. Use tracking methods to determine what ad approach works and stick with it until you develop new ads that prove themselves to work better.

7) Changing Times and Advertising

Times change but people do not. The basic human emotions, wants and desires remain the same. Words like "free" and "new" are just as powerful now as they were years ago.

8) Test it

With advertising, you can test every component in an ad to see what works best—there is no guesswork needed. If you have two different headlines that you feel are very strong, you can test both using a split run. Just remember to test only one component at a time and key-code the ads with a department number, a special phone number or a coupon with a code on it for accurate results.

9) Know How it Will Look

After you have finished your ad, print it off on your printer in the exact size that it will run. Take a magazine or newspaper, depending what medium you are using—maybe even the actual publication it is running in—and tape it onto a page. You can then get a good idea of how it will look when it goes to press.

10) Create Ads in Advance

Do not wait until the last minute to create an advertisement. Many people will decide they need to run an ad and then draw one up quick. Rushing the creation of advertising will most likely result in a bad ad. You should have a few ads done and ready and some in the works at all times.

John Schulte is president and chairman of the National Mail Order Association. Schulte can be reached at 612.788.1673 or by e-mail at schulte@nmoa.org.

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