Advertising Tips

13 Tips to Make the Most of Your Advertising Dollar

We strongly recommend you hire a professional graphic designer to create your ad—preferably one who has an established track record creating successful ads… it is well worth the cost. Think about the cost spread over at least a year of ads.This is NOT something you should try at home!


What the viewer of your ad cares about most is "What’s in it for me? Why should I care? How can this product/service make my life better?" They are not looking to read all about your credentials or the technical names of your processes - that is not a grabber. First get their attention with the benefits; then tell them how to contact you.

2) YOUR HEADLINE: Consider starting with a phrase that grabs the attention and is memorable. The Economist has a great line: “Great minds like a think.” Or Timex’s classic “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” Often a question works well; you only have a few seconds to engage them.

3) MAKE THEM AN OFFER THEY CAN’T REFUSE! This doesn’t have to be in the form of a discount, but could be a free booklet related to some aspect of your business; it could be some added value (eg. free foot massage on Tuesdays). If you do offer a discount it needs to be more than 10% these days. Don’t make them "bring in this coupon"—just tell them to mention the ad when they come in.

4) WHAT IS YOUR USP? (Unique Selling Proposition)
What sets you apart from the gazillion other realtors in town, or massage therapists? How do you make the customer’s life or business better? You might ask your happy clients what they liked best about working with you, and what drew them to you in the first place.

5) YOUR PHOTO: Think carefully before you put your picture in your ad; why will your customer care about seeing your photo? If you’re going into someone’s home to work, maybe yes. Otherwise we feel this is a bit overdone. If you do include your picture, it needs to be a high-resolution image and a technically good photo.

6) WHITE SPACE: Less is more. Do not fill your ad with everything possible that you do. Give the eye space to rest - your viewer will thank you for that. Refer folks to your website for details.

7) TYPE: Keep the fonts to a minimum. Be sure they are large enough and clear enough. Stick with just two fonts and pick 3 font sizes. Your heading text should be twice as large as your normal text and your subheadings halfway between those. Watch out for white fonts on a darker background; if they are too small they are too hard to read!

8) DON’T MAKE YOUR READERS WORK TOO HARD TO FIND YOU: Don’t hide your phone and website in tiny print. Make them pop. But put them at the bottom, under your headline & USP.


9) KNOW YOUR MARKET. Who is your ideal client or customer? What is their demographic profile? Then know which publications cater to that market. Don’t waste your dollars where your client is unlikely to be reading.

10) REPETITION IS QUEEN. You need to be in front of the reader when they are ready to buy. Depending on your product or service, that could be immediately or, in the case of large purchases, it could be something they only do once per year or less often (a new car, a refrigerator, an attorney vs. a massage or petsitter ) so your ad needs to be in front of them when they are ready.

11) ALWAYS BE BRANDING AND TESTING. Your logo and tagline should always be present in your ads. And you should have a means of REALLY knowing where the customer saw your ad. You may ask, but they may not always remember. Use different ads in different publications. And use the "offer" to help track your ads too.

12) TIMING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU THINK—and can help you keep your budget within bounds. If your item is seasonal, you may want to have the smallest ad during normally slow times, and larger, colorful ads during peak selling times. But when business is just plain SLOW, getting your name in front of the customer is key. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can’t afford to advertise during those traditionally slow times.

13) BUDGETING. If you plan to have a successful business, you must budget for advertising from the beginning. Most experts say that an average of 5% of gross sales is a good figure to use. However, if you are just starting up, you need to spend more to get your name out there quickly. Some questions to ask yourself as you set a budget are: What are my goals with this ad campaign? Am I building name recognition and branding? Do I simply want to get some immediate sales? What is a good mix for me among print, radio, TV, direct mail, etc? What is my competition doing?

Links to more in-depth information about these points.


Ad Columnist Roy H. WilliamS

We highly recommend books by Roy H. Williams as well as his Monday Morning Memo

Advertising Trends: Pushing Past Media Overload
Selecting the Most Effective Advertising Media

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