10 Things to Learn From Print Ads

Jun 10, 2010 View Comments by Irshard OFM

Every form of advertising is different. TV, radio, online, billboard, in-store and print ads all require a different approach to communicate most effectively with an audience. There are, however, a number of principles which are shared between them and much can be learnt from studying each one in turn. In this article, we look at how the knowledge gained from successful print advertising can be applied to marketing in general. Follow these 10 tips for guaranteed marketing success.

1. Use Bold Typography

Bold and clear typography is of utmost importance in print advertising, but is vital in all methods of marketing. Mixing fonts is never a good idea. Choose the font which you feel matches your brand the best and use it in everything you do, from ads to email signatures and even office stationary. Serif fonts are often the easiest to read in print, but don’t be scared to use straight-line fonts which might mark your brand out from the competition. Just remember – when it comes to choosing fonts – simplicity is always best.

2. Have a Clear Message

Effective print ads provide a clear message – a reason why potential customers should buy certain goods or use certain services. Having an eye-catching, concise and punchy headline is one of the best ways to get this message across in a print ad, but in all forms of marketing, you should aim to convey one simple, focused message to achieve the greatest impact. Remember the K.I.S.S. principle – “Keep It Simple, Stupid”.

3. Be Consistent

Very few companies stick to one marketing method these days. Most will devise an integrated marketing campaign, making the most of every possible medium they have at their disposal. Just as it is important to maintain a consistent approach between every print ad created by a specific company, it’s essential that consistency is maintained between different mediums too. You’re not going to be able to make a print ad exactly the same as a radio or viral ad, but they need to have the same look or feel about them. This can be done through consistency of colors, fonts, music, phrases and/or overall approach.

4. Call-To-Action

Besides an attention-grabbing headline, which pulls readers in, print ads should contain some kind of call-to-action, which makes readers act. This is true of many forms of marketing, such as TV, radio and online ads. Phrases like “offer must end on Sunday” or “this week only” give prospects the incentive they need to pick up the phone, navigate to your site or whatever it is you want them to do.

5. Don’t Try to Be Everything to Everybody

You can’t please everybody, all of the time. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. You can’t afford to spread your marketing budget too thinly, so just like the best print ads, you need to pinpoint your most valuable customer segment and speak to them directly. Most businesses get 80% of their sales from 20% of their customers- neglect them at your peril!

6. Focus on Branding

Marketing is just as much about marking yourself out from the crowd as it is about informing the general public of the products and services you have on offer. The best way to differentiate your company from the competition is with branding. Whether you go for the cover-everything-in-the-company-logo type approach or choose to integrate branding into your ads in a more subtle way, make sure that you use marketing to give your company its own, unique personality.

7. Know Your Competition

When designing a print ad, you need to know your competition as well as your customers. Not only should you be looking at what your competitors are doing to make sure you stand out from the crowd, you should be studying their marketing successes and failures and using this learnt information to better your own marketing efforts.

8. Repetition Is Required

Very, very few print ads can create a truly lasting impression if viewed only once. That’s why companies pay for them to be published again and again, often with only minor revisions made to wording and price etc. Whatever your marketing mix, it’s important to sustain a campaign over a series of weeks or even months, as it can take fifteen or twenty exposures to an ad before a prospect takes notice.

9. Choose Graphics Carefully

When designing a print ad, the imagery used is absolutely crucial. Graphics should not be there for the sake of it; they should be used to support and enhance your message. Sure, you want your ad to be conspicuous, but you don’t want to include a random image that will confuse the public and divert attention from what it is you’re actually trying to say.

Furthermore, if your ad is cluttered or particularly garish, due to your choice of colors, people will most likely feel put off and ignore it. These guidelines can just as easily relate to any form of visual marketing.

10. Celebrity Endorsement

Flick through any glossy magazine and you’ll be confronted with page-upon-page of gorgeous celebrities smiling back at you. Not only are they the subjects of the articles, they appear in many of the adverts too. Celebrity endorsement is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal, whether in print, online, on a billboard, on TV or on the radio.

While you might not be able to afford to get Tom Cruise or Scarlett Johansson to promote your company, there are cheaper alternatives. Many celebrities are more than open to taking “bribes”, and a freebie is often enough for them to let you use their name or image somewhere- even if it’s just on your company’s blog, Facebook or Twitter page.

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About the author

Irshard OFM is a Web Developer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka and serves as the Administrator at Webmaster Technologies. He is an undergraduate in Bsc.(Hons.) IT at Sri Lanka Institue of Information Technology, simply known as SLIIT. You can know more via his website at Irshard.com and follow him on Twitter here