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Must-follow rules for print advertising that sells

We spend a lot of time online these days, but for most businesses print advertising is still an important part of their marketing strategy – for the simple reason that it works.

Advertising directories, newspapers and magazines, shopping centre billboards and flyers delivered through the letterbox are an effective way of generating sales, as long as you bear some key points in mind when it comes to your advert.

The Yellow Pages reports that, out of every 20 people who use it to find a product or service, 17 will make a purchase. They’ll look at an average of four or five adverts but will usually contact just two businesses to make further enquiries.

It follows that it’s the best-designed adverts which attract potential customers, so how do you ensure your print advert is one that prompts them to act?

Firstly, we’d say that if ever there was a time for using a professional graphic design service, this is it. If your advert is poorly constructed and looks amateur, that’s the message people will take away about your business. A graphic designer will produce something that not only looks great, but will be in the right format, resolution and so on for final printing. A full-colour banner advert for the side of a bus has very different requirements than a quarter-page in your local tabloid newspaper.

You’ll still need to make some important decisions, however, so consider the following when thinking about your print advertising needs:

  1. Keep it simple. Don’t try and cram lots of information into one advert – if it looks too ‘busy’ you will lose sales, as people will glance at it rather than absorb information. There is nothing wrong with white (empty) space in an advert so don’t feel you need to fill every available centimetre – you want details to stand out.
  2. Size matters. When it comes to print advertising, go as large as you can. The eye is more likely to glide over smaller adverts without noticing – take a look in a newspaper and try it for yourself. As well as standing out, a bigger advertising space gives you more room to include important details without looking cluttered.
  3. The ‘title’ is important. The text you include will depend on where your advert is going to appear, but it’s likely to have a headline of some kind. This should be simple and short, in good-sized type and nicely displayed.
  4. Choose your image carefully. You want potential customers to identify with what they see. When people are pictured in adverts, they are often smiling – because this is more engaging. Make sure you stay relevant – a shot of a bikini-clad model isn’t appropriate unless you’re selling swimwear or holidays, for example.
  5. Focus on the positives. You want people to see themselves as satisfied customers, so highlight the solution you provide rather than the problem. If you’re selling sofas, for example, you might show a family relaxing in comfort and style – so the potential customer can imagine themselves in the same scenario.
  6. Remove barriers. Simply telling someone to buy now can prompt an unconscious ‘no’ response – you need to entice customers to take the next step. Inviting them to your store to browse your full range or offering a free consultation (if relevant) are softer ways to encourage interest, while limiting a special offer or sale by date or availability will prompt a feeling of urgency.
  7. Offer peace of mind. If you’ve won any awards or are a member of a professional association, featuring details in your advert will reassure people that your business is reputable and provides a quality product or service.
  8. Make it easy to get in touch. It’s surprising how many businesses don’t! Your company name, telephone number, email address, website and physical address should all be included; if space permits, you might want to add social media details. What you’re trying to do is ensure your potential customers can contact you through whatever channel they prefer.

Your adverts should coax your audience to envisage themselves as satisfied customers – the best state of mind for deciding to buy a product or service. Details should change according to the medium in order to be most effective – a newspaper advert will differ from one that appears in a glossy magazine – so it’s important not to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach.

An unlimited, on-demand graphic design service such as Designs Unlimited gives you the freedom to tailor marketing materials to each audience, ensuring your message is conveyed in the most effective way at every level.

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