Designing Effective Ads

In the world of advertising, designing an effective advertisement is more than just words and images on a page or a website. There is an art – a science even – to designing an ad or marketing piece that will entice viewers to read or respond to it.

But, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start at the beginning. Ads, like marketing in general, need to be well thought out, with a clear goal in mind and a strategy for its use. Think first about whom you are targeting when creating an ad. Male or female? Young or old? Household income, etc. The ad you design should speak directly to the person who receives it.

Once the audience is determined, the message must then be defined. Inherent in that message is the takeaway or the action you want the consumer to take upon receipt of your advertising message. Do you want them to pick up the phone and call you? Buy your product online or in the store? Or simply remember your name the next time they are in the market for your brand?

Designing an effective ad is not for amateurs, nor for the feint of heart. Graphic arts and good writing skills are the key elements But there are a few components that will make any advertising piece more effective.

The Attention Getter: Every ad needs an attention getter. Be it photography, an illustration or the headline. For this what will captivate people and make them pause for long enough to receive your advertising message.

Short, Succinct Copy: Now is not the time for “War and Peace Part II.” Keep your advertising copy short and to the point. Give the reader or viewer a reason to pick up the phone or log onto your website for additional information.

Mandatories: I know this sounds elementary, but I can’t tell you how many times mandatories are left off of ads. Every ad must have the your company’s name or logo, an address or a phone number and most importantly a website. If the person receiving the ad can’t get in touch with you then the ad can’t be very effective, can it?

Effective use of White Space: In advertising – especially in today’s over saturated market – the “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” messaging just doesn’t work. Some of the most memorable ads ever created were little more than a few words on a sea of white background. Put too many elements into a single ad; too many pictures, too many words, too many banners or starbursts and you are apt to end up with an ad that resembles more of a ransom note than anything else. The result is confusion on the part of the viewer and confusion will likely mean they’ll skip over your message entirely.

Don’t be Afraid of Humor: People are human. Humans have a sense of humor (or most do anyway) and they like to laugh. At others, at themselves or just about life in general. Using humor can be the single component that sets your ad apart from the rest and thereby results in more people viewing the message you are delivering. A quick walk down memory lane reveals some very successful humorous ads such as the current E-Trade commercials, the long running Aflack campaign, Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef” campaign and the list goes on and on.

So whether you are doing your own advertising or working with an experienced ad agency, don’t let your ego get in your way. Follow the simple guidelines above for effective ads that get you noticed, get your company noticed and your product(s) sold. Because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.