How Effective is Your Print Ad? 4 Questions to Ask

Anyone can create a print ad – just get into Photoshop or Word and start typing, right? Of course, we all know it isn’t that easy. I guess I should have opened with “anyone can create a crappy print ad”! But no one can have good sales just by running any ol’ print ad. It needs to have certain elements to make it work. The five questions below will help you judge the effectiveness of your print ad.

1. Does the headline grab the reader’s attention? Advertising guru David Ogilvy states in his book, Ogilvy on Advertising, that the headline is read five times as much as the body copy. An ideal headline is nine words or less. It’s easy to compare a headline to a billboard: a billboard should be no more than 8 words long to catch people zooming by. People will also zoom by your print ad if the headline is too long.

A headline that grabs a reader’s attention is generally one that includes some kind of benefit to the reader. Ogilvy states that headlines that have some sort of promise benefits are read four times as much as headlines with no benefits.

2. What kind of graphics are you using? Photographs always work better than line drawings to draw in readers. But, you need to pay attention to the content of your photo: photos that show a solution rather than a problem are much more compelling. You also want to make sure that your photo relates to something in your business. Don’t include an interesting picture of a beach at sunset if you aren’t advertising that destination. People will be disgruntled when they learn your ad is for something totally different, like computers.

3. How long is your body copy? Long copy generally works better than shorter copy, which I think goes against our current culture. People are so busy and have such short attention spans that I wouldn’t think longer copy would work. But it does. If you couple long body copy with a great headline that draws people’s attention to the ad, people will read all of the copy to find out more about the product or service.

Of course, this also depends on your audience. Younger people that are used to texting and IM-ing prefer shorter copy because they are used to communicating in as few words as possible. Older generations prefer longer copy because they are used to reading more books and text-heavy ads.

4. How convenient is it to make a purchase? Ads that don’t include a call to action that says to call or visit a store aren’t as effective as those that do include a directive for people to follow. You need to make it crystal clear to consumers how they can reach you to make a purchase, and give all the necessary info. Give your URL, your phone number, street address and any other info that will make it easy for a customer to contact you.

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