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Components of a good ad

A well-designed ad can give you an edge over the competition. Effective ads include the following elements:

Attention-grabbing headline
Studies have shown that ads have about 3 seconds to grab attention. This is the headline’s job. It can be a brand promise such as “The fastest machine anywhere!” or a benefit like “Earn higher profits with attractive rental options.” A play on words or humor can be effective.

The headline should be the first element the eye sees, so it has to be readable, in good contrast to the background and big enough to dominate the space.

Compelling image
The image creates style and mood for your ad. It can show your product or something manufactured using your product. Most of the time, one image is more effective than multiple images.

The quality of the image, especially photography, is very important. A minimum resolution is 300 dpi (dots per inch). If your original image is small or has low resolution, the ad will not please you in the printed magazine.

Images on websites are usually low resolution, but because of the electronic representation, they still look fine. Usually, you cannot take an image or logo from your website and reproduce it in a print ad. Stock photography can be a very affordable option.

Benefits promise
A common mistake in writing the copy for an ad is to list the features of the product rather than the benefit to the customer. Buyers don’t care what you sell. They care how it will help them.

Instead of “Teflon coated” say “You’ll spend less time cleaning.” Don’t list every type of hardware you sell but use a simple statement like “You’ll never be caught short with our large inventory and same day shipping.”

Point of differentiation
Think about your company’s products. Now think about your competitors. Ask yourself, “Why would someone prefer to buy from us?” Maybe it’s many things, but pick one or at the most two of the most important reasons. Differentiation creates interest and influences buyer intent.

Call to action
This element of your ad moves the buyers from interest into action. Use a phrase like “Call today for a free catalog” or “Visit our website to see our photo gallery” or “E-mail us and request a free white paper on the energy savings achieved by using our patented….”

Good copy and “white space”
Make it readable. All caps are hard to read. If you want to add emphasis, use bolding or a bright color that contrasts with the background.

Limit your copy. Less is more if you choose words carefully and make every one count. Use power words such as “free, new, fast and easy.” They make a quick and universally understood benefit promise.

Don’t fill the space. As you think about your ad, include copy, art and space. Space allows the eye to focus on the important stuff.