Do’s and Don’ts for Effective Print Advertising.

honeyMooners-250You’d think we’d know a lot about print advertising at this point. It’s not exactly a new medium after all. But there seems to be a strong tendency to make the same mistakes over and over, and then wonder why the campaign didn’t work. Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts to help make your print ads more successful.

Do

  • Clarify your audience—knowing whom you’re trying to reach is the ultra-crucial first step.
  • Hire a professional to develop a media plan—wrong publications, wrong timing, wrong frequency, wrong mix can easily doom the best ad campaign.
  • Decide what you’re selling before creating an ad.
  • Sell benefits, not features in a product or service ad—focus on the top two or three.
  • Show your product or service in action—incorporate people.
  • Consider premium positions to increase readership and recall.
  • Learn from other advertising campaigns—including your competitors.
  • Write killer headlines that speak to benefits—five times more people read a headline than body copy.
  • Communicate the brand and a positive message.
  • Incorporate high-impact visuals and easy-to-read typefaces.
  • Remember that you are not the buyer—what matters is whether your campaign works, not whether you like it.
  • Include URLs to drive website traffic—a study shows the biggest lifts in women’s service (198%), home (203%), and travel (286%) categories vs. ads with no URL.
  • Track and test, track and test—improve tracking with coupons, new VOIP services, special pricing, landing pages, subscriber surveys, tip-ins, etc.

Don’t

  • Underestimate the power of frequency—it’s a critical campaign success factor.
  • Forget to include a strong direct response component to generate leads.
  • Fail to hook readers quickly—the average reader glances at a print ad for two seconds with 1.5 devoted to the visual.
  • Sacrifice brand visibility for “creativity”—ideally integrate the brand with the visual.
  • Choose visuals that generate negative, unintended associations.
  • Make people work hard to connect your visuals with your product and brand.
  • Wander from your key points.
  • Load your ad with meaningless platitudes—“we provide quality service,” etc.
  • Forget that a direct response ad needs more copy to explain a product or service.
  • Choose an inappropriate format for your message—consider spreads, inserts and advertorials if you need more space.
  • Neglect to advance the reader to the next step.
  • Limit your advertising to just print or any other single medium—it’s very much a multi-channel world.

Test Your Media IQ.
Think you know everything about media? You might be surprised.
Visit Magazine Publishers of America to test your media knowledge. While you’re there, you can also access a number of valuable free resources, like the Magazine Handbook 2008-2009, to help you and your clients gain more impact from print advertising.

By Larry Bauer

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