When it comes to print advertising, we know that you want to really get the most out of your advertisement, and get it seen by as many people as possible. Making sure that your ad can stand out from the crowd and be quickly identified on a page is crucial. Here are a few tips to really make the difference.
Use your space!
Make sure you make the most of your spatial limitations from your local newspaper / magazine advert. Don’t go overboard and cram as much in as possible – find a middle ground between detail and simplicity that really gets your message across.
It’s a question of time
When your reader glances down at the list of adverts, the average time spent looking ranges from 10-12 seconds, with lows of 3-5 seconds and highs of 15-20 (if you’re lucky.) Your advert should attract a viewers interest in the first three seconds – capture that, and they will keep reading. If your ad doesn’t turn heads, your customers may turn the page.
Lure your reader’s eyes
Don’t fool yourself into believing for one second that reading text on an advert page is exciting – or ever will be. Your readers are like magpies – easily distracted. Their brains are drawn to shiny, interesting things – and that’s how you can get them in your sights. When a reader looks at a page in their local newspaper or magazine their eyes will jump to the interesting element. A reader will spend about 50% of their time on an advert page looking at visual images. If your ad has images that connect with your target, there is a greater chance of them spending time reading it.
Plan your images
Ideally, a large advert will have a main image and up to 2-3 smaller, complementary images. A reader will look at your images first – then jump to the starting point of your ad. If you don’t have a good visual element, you’ve got less chance of grabbing anyone’s attention. Think about what images correspond to the service you offer – how will they appeal to the demographic you are trying to impress? Will they catch the eye?
Alignment is crucial
Starting point of an ad should be at the top and left centre – mirroring our natural English reading patterns. A viewer’s eyes will scan from the top left down to the bottom right of an ad. They will then often return to look at the visual elements. Make sure that the way the advert is structured makes it as simple to read and decipher as possible. Time is money.
Increase your chances
On average, half of your readers will move on from your ad without a care in the world. That’s a tough reality – but a good enough ad can bring that number down. Readers are easily distracted: maintain their attention by marking the path of your advert with interesting content to bring them along. Keep your ad compelling, and you increase the likelihood of the reader taking away the key points.
Not really reading.
You rarely “read” an advert. Adverts are viewed more than read – words are scanned by a viewer’s brain in short bursts and barely considered in great detail. REMEMBER – there is an inverse relationship between the amount of copy in an ad and the time spent viewing it – so don’t write your ad as an article. 4-5 bullet points or bolded short sentences work best – force too much information in an ad, and your reader won’t remember any of it. Overload a reader’s brain and it becomes a sieve – a lot of stuff will go in and then out. Too many elements in an ad decreases the impact of them individually. If you need more information to get your point across, buy a bigger ad or direct your reader to another source of information – such as a website.
Shut up and drive (purchase intent)
A lot of agencies will say “Print ads are just about developing brand awareness.” While that’s certainly one of the benefits of print advertising, it is by no means the only one. A good ad should drive purchase intent.
Purchase intent might work something like this: –
THE TALE OF LINDA AND PURCHASE INTENT
“ Linda from Dorset was reading the 4Dorset magazine one day, when she came across a brightly coloured advertisement for professional singing lessons, which really grabbed her attention. “Hmmm,” she said aloud to herself, looking at the images on the advert and scanning the text quickly for more information.
Linda thought half-heartedly that (“perhaps”, “maybe”, “probably not”), she might one day like to learn to sing. These few seconds of contemplation were quickly swept away as Linda got on with the rest of her day and the advert was soon forgotten amid the stresses and chaos of everyday life.
But tragedy struck a week later when Linda was laughed out of her local pub at the monthly karaoke night, after a dodgy rendition of ‘My Heart Will Go On.’ Friendless and humiliated, she remembered the brightly coloured advert and the idea she’d had to get lessons. She signed herself up. After a little practise, she was able to regain her self esteem and perform pub-level karaoke with the best of them. Plus there was always ‘The Voice’…
A drastic example, but one that highlights how ‘purchase intent’ functions – your ad must consolidate its position in a reader’s mind, so that they might come back to it, when something drives them to do so. Make sure your advert sticks in the head!
Frequency, frequency, frequency!
For maximum effect, consumers must see your ad more than once. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Brand familiarity will increase with the number of exposures, as does purchase intent. It can be helpful to include a call to action in your ad – it can be subtle (but not too subtle.) You want someone to finish viewing your ad and make a conscious decision to make a purchase or pick up the phone to find out more.
So, to sum up:
- Print advertising in your local news paper / magazine needs a strong and appealing visual theme
- Ads need to be simple and clear
- Limit the number of words and use short bullet points or phrases
- Arrange your advert in a clockwise (left to right, up to down) visual path
- Get the message in early
- Don’t try to do too much (or the advert will not work)
- The main goal is to drive purchase intent using a call of action (example – “15% off”, “call now while stocks last.”)
By Ben Pulford
From Mags4Dorset (Specialists in local news for Dorset)
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