Is your company receiving the highest return, in terms of sales, on every advertising dollar spent?  Any appropriate print advertising media you choose for your target market (direct mail, newspaper, trade magazines, invoice stuffers, door hangers, etc.)  may be discarded or ineffective for several reasons. Remember, when it comes to print media, following the leader is usually a path to mediocrity.

Understand there are no good or bad print media. There is situational-appropriate media and situational- inappropriate media. Direct mail may be a perfect print media choice for one company to deliver an effective message about their product to their target market. For another company’s product and target market, newspaper advertisements may be more effective. Once the correct situational-appropriate print media is selected, it is the message and the timing of delivering the message that is critical to your advertising success.

To improve the effectiveness of delivering your message and increasing the return on your advertising dollars, utilize the following eight guidelines:

1)    Determine your USP (unique selling proposition). How are you going to articulate to your reader, “what’s in it for me” and “how is this company going to make my life better.”  Remember your reader isn’t interested in your company, only in how they see a unique advantage for themselves by doing business with you.

2)    The headline must grab attention. A powerful headline will outperform a weak headline by 10 to 1. To create a powerful headline that will grab your reader’s attention, focus the headline on benefits or competitive differentials. Don’t confuse benefits with product features. Features are selling points about the product while benefits are what the product will do for the reader. Benefits is where your reader’s interest lies, so place your most desired benefit in your headline. Typically, the best benefits are those that appeal to a buyer’s emotions.  Another productive headline is one which combines a unique competitive advantage with a benefit

3)    Fuse the headline with the illustration. The illustration must support the claim made in the headline. Illustrate the product in use or the end result of using the product or service. Before-and-after photos can also be very effective.

4)    Use subheadings to convey a second benefit. Subheadings can be a good place to introduce special offers with a call to action. For example, “ Hurry, Save 20% for the next 7 days.”

5)    Use copy that sells. Prospects will read copy if the headline grabbed their attention. Good copy is an important part of your sales message and should include the following:

  • The leading copy needs to support the headline by emphasizing how the products benefits will satisfy important needs.
  • Support your claims with some type of proof. Consider using testimonials, credentials, endorsements, or industry awards to back up your claims.
  • The closing copy needs to offer incentive to move the reader to action. Consider special pricing, limited time period or limited quantity.
  • Guarantees are an effective way to reduce the customer’s fear of making a purchasing mistake.
  • Construct short sentences. Use the word “you” often. Consider using bullet points to make the copy easier to read.

6)    Utilize a pleasing design to the eye. The design or overall look of the advertisement must be attractive and easy for the eye to move through from the headline to the visual illustration to the copy. Spatially relate the headline to the illustration. Make sure there is enough white space in the ad so the eye can relax and easily move through the advertisement without confusion.

7)    List avenues for action. It is important to clearly list in the advertisement several options through which action can be taken. For example, a return card on a direct mail piece, returning a coupon, referring action to your website, and a telephone number with convenient hours.

8)    Utilize full process color. Full color advertisements will always outsell black and white or limited color promotional pieces.

Get the biggest bang for your advertising dollar by designing advertisements that sell. Incorporate these eight strategies into the planning of your advertising –  utilize headlines and illustrations that sell, and use the right words that move people to take action.

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