June 15, 2016

How to Make Your Print Ad Stand Out

5 Common Problems, 5 Easy Solutions

By Keith Booton

At Ivor Andrew, we make a living by helping our clients get noticed. We’ve crafted heaps of industrial print ads in our 11 years, and we’ve accrued some valuable best practices in that time. Today, we’d like to share some of that insight with you, because nobody appreciates great ads like ad guys. Here are some problems you might have encountered before, coupled with some actionable ways to solve them.

Problem: Too Many Words

You have a great product. You’re proud of it. It’s natural to list all the reasons your prospects should consider it. But when people encounter too many words in an ad, it’s all too easy for them to check out and move on.

Solution: Embrace Simplicity

The goal of a print ad — of any ad, really — is to capture attention and inspire action. To capture someone’s attention effectively, you don’t have to say everything. In fact, the opposite is true. Be minimal. Find what’s unique about what you’re offering, craft brief and easy to digest copy around it and let your concise message wash over the person reading it.

Problem: It’s Not Popping”

This vague term is a feeling you can’t quite describe, but you know it when you see it, and you’re not terribly excited by the ad in front of you. It’s not bad, necessarily. It’s just kind of, “meh.” If this feeling hits you during the review process, it’s often a matter of strengthening your ad’s curbside appeal.

Solution: Spend Extra Time On The Headline

There’s a famous quote from David Ogilvy, legendary ad man —

On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

The perfect headline can be hard to find, but to aid your search, lead with your strongest benefit. Also, you can consider a split test to see which headline is more effective. Run your ad, then change only the headline next time you run it. The more effective headline will have a better response rate.

Problem: It Feels Too Salesy

This problem often arises if you’re focusing too much on the actual product. It’s understandably easy to do since you know it backwards and forwards. Try to challenge yourself to step into your audience’s shoes.

Solution: Don’t Sell The Product

Sell the solution instead. Rather than listing the specs and awards your product possesses, answer this universal question as a reader, “What’s in it for me?” Is it saved time? Saved money? Higher quality or more volume? Whatever it is, tout it.

Don't just spew facts and data — there is nothing different from your competitors there — but solve a problem or answer a question for the end user. A big full-page photo of your machine or tool might seem like a great idea, but unless it looks so revolutionary that it will change an industry, consider that there are not usually a lot of visual differentiators from the same products of your competitors. How does it make my life better? Focus on what makes your company or product different.

Problem: You Aren’t Sure Where to Look

Busy ads distract, and distraction is attention’s arch nemesis. Anything visual with too much movement and content can become overwhelming for a reader. The more content in an ad, the less likely the human eye is to rest for any useful period of time. The more distracting the layout is, the better the chance that it gets skipped over and ignored.

Solution: Clean It Up

Simplify. Again. How do you do that? Remember that wordy part we talked about earlier? The same holds true with visuals, as well. If you identify exactly what your goal is with the ad before you create it, you’ll naturally keep the extraneous white noise to a minimum. Now, with both copy and design, you’re getting right to the point of the ad. If it isn’t relative to achieving your single goal of the ad, leave it out.

Problem: You’re Running into Creative Roadblocks

This is one of the biggest hurdles to finalizing a truly great ad. It’s easy to say, “Make this ad look like our competition” but instead you should be saying, “Make this ad stand out from our competition.” Marketing the way everyone else does is a natural, risk-free behavior. It’s also making your ad invisible and keeping it from realizing its true potential.

Solution: Embrace the New

Even the toughest among us can be frightened of change. An experiment you can try: the next time you’re uncomfortable with an ad in front of you, ask yourself, “If I were a customer, would I be intrigued by this ad?” If the answer is yes, it’s possible the power of resistance is trying to keep you from releasing an ad that actually differentiates your product from its competitors. Work to embrace that initial discomfort. Get your marketing out of the invisible.

When trying to decide what the best path of attack is for your business’ marketing and advertising, remember that you have three options.

One, continue to follow your own bent and hope that what you have been doing is going to someday magically work. It might. It might not.

Two, follow our advice on how to get the most out of your ads — keep it brief and simple, write a killer headline, go easy on the hard-line sales pitch, and expand your marketing outside of your comfort zone.

The third option is to call in an agency, and realize that while you’re awesome at your business, your best bet is to let a marketing expert help guide you through creating memorable communications with your ad programs.

Got a marketing project that could benefit from Ivor Andrew expertise? Talk to us today.

This article was originally published by Gardner Business Media, Inc.