Writing and designing a successful advertisements can be a very challenging task, especially for entrepreneurs who don’t have the luxury of an internal marketing department or the budget to hire an expensive advertising agency.    It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the number of factors involved, so when designing an ad we like to begin by asking ourselves some preliminary questions before beginning on an ad design.  We like to write down our answers to these questions and continuously refer back to them as we design our advertisement.

* 1.  What is the goal of your message?

Why are you advertising?  Are you looking for to generate readers for your new blog?  Are you looking for customers to fill orders for a particular product?  What action do you want the customer to take after reading the message?

* 2.  Who is your audience?

Who is your message targeted towards?  Knowing who your message is intended for will help you design your advertisement.  Be aware of the different buyer personas in your target market.

* 3.  What does the audience want?

Knowing your audience and what they want is essential to writing a successful advertisement.  Your goal is to connect with your customer on a personal level — make them think that the ad was written specifically with them in mind.  The more personalized the message, the better your results will be.

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Once we have answered those questions, we have a foundation for the design and copy of our advertisement.  Checking back with these original questions as we develop the ad will ensure that we are talking to our audience and driving towards the goal of our message at all times.

Building on the foundation, we will begin to think about what kind of language we want to use in our ad.  We know that we need to speak on a personal level to our target audience and to do our best to tailor our advertisement specifically for each reader, but there is more to it than that.  It is important that we keep the following things in mind when writing our advertisement copy:

* Grab Attention – This is the most important factor of any advertisement.  If it doesn’t grab the attention of your reader, it will never be read in the first place.  Keep this in mind at all times.
* Use A Call To Action – Tell your customers what they must do to get your product.  Do they have to click on something?  Ask them to click the link.  Do they call a number?  Ask them to call the number.
* Create A Sense of Urgency – Offer some sort of incentive (real or perceived) for the customer to act immediately.  Customers may intend to come back, but without incentive to act immediately they may procrastinate and will never return, despite their intentions.
* Clearly Make Your  Offer – Your offer is the reason you are advertising and it’s also the reason that customers will respond to your ads.  Make your offer as clear and strong as it can possibly because the response to your ad will depend on the quality and clarity of your offer.  If your offer is not clear, you may get unwanted responses that will only waste your time and advertising budget.
* Appeal to Emotion – Neuroscience has proven to us that humans depend on emotions to make decisions.  Attempt to influence the emotions of your reader using stories, pictures and anything you can dramatize to draw the customer in.   The popularity of  “reality TV” is a great example demonstrating how powerful this simple principal is.
* Appeal to Self Interest – The only thing your customer is concerned with is themselves.  Focus on how your product or service directly benefits them, they don’t care about anything else.  Demonstrate as clearly as possible how your product or service benefits the customer.

It is often beneficial to come up with several similar but slightly different versions of your ad copy for the purposes of testing.  The idea is to run all of the ads and then look back at the results to see which ads had the best response rate.  Keep the ads with the best response rate and remove the rest.  The more times you repeat this process, the more effective your advertisements become.

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After you have established a foundation for your advertisement and have decided upon a few versions (or one version) of ad copy, you can begin to think about the visual appeal of the advertisement.  Advertisements consisting of images and multimedia are more likely to grab the attention of the reader in most cases, so we definitely want to use some visual elements and avoid using text-only ads — unless of course our target market wants to see only text.  Keep the following considerations in mind when designing the visual elements of your ad:

* Don’t try to cram too much into a small space – leaving some white space may actually guide your reader to the important information.  Don’t overwhelm them with too much noise.
* Users will notice visuals first – before a reader bothers to read your copy, they will glance at your visuals and instantly decide whether or not to read.  Keep this in mind.
* Put important information where the user will expect it – don’t put anything important in the fine print.  Make it easy for the user to read the ad and instantly understand what the offer is and how to get it.
* Stay consistent in your layout and design elements – keep your visual elements consistent, including colors, borders, graphics  and fonts.
* Draw a border – in most cases you should make sure that there is a clear line between the beginning  and end of your advertisement.
* Include your logo – Always include your logo to improve the visibility of your brand.  The more customers see your brand, the more trust they will place in it.  Building a brand will be crucial to your success, so you should be constantly engaged in it.

After designing the visual elements of your ad, you should check back to the original 3 questions and ensure that you are still communicating your intended message to your intended audience in the way that they want to receive it.  Making sure that you optimize each element of the ad will contribute greatly to its eventual success.

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You should have a pretty good framework for creating an advertisement design at this point, but there are still a few things we think you should watch out for.  These are things we strongly recommend avoiding:

AVOID:

* All capital letters in ad copy – this gives the appearance of  “shouting.”  It’s a common misconception that this is a good way to grab attention.   Readers may glance over small letters and derive full meaning from the text, whereas they are not conditioned to do so with all capital letters.
* Offering too many choices – offering too many choices can paralyze your user and cause them to not act when they would have otherwise acted on your offer.  Choice can be good, but be careful when offering choices in any advertised offer.
* Talking about yourself  or your company – don’t talk about yourself or your company too much in your advertising — the customer cares only about helping themselves.  Don’t describe your company — describe your offer.
* Misleading ads – do not mislead your customer in any way.  This may get them interested in your ad, but the last thing any advertising budget needs is customers who are interested in the ads but not in the products.  Obviously it will also negatively impact your credibility.
* Rushing to print – don’t rush to get your advertisement to print.  Take your time to thoroughly  and carefully create a quality advertisement.

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After you’ve finished your ad design, there is one more thing you might want to ask yourself one last question.

Can I simplify this at all?

Is there anything you can do to make the ad more simple?  The better you can simplify your ad, the better response it will get.

Posted by Charles Yarbrough

Charley has been working as a webmaster since 1998. Since then, he has had his hands in thousands of websites and has helped millions get online through a company he partially owns called Web Host Pro.

One Comment

  1. Very very smart, great article.

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