Guest Author - Deborah Crawford
Effective ads are those that get attention and lead to new customers. Advertising can be a great business investment. But, don't expect advertising to be your sales force. It will bring prospects to you, but usually not in droves. Then, you need someone to sell to these "ready to buy" customers who call or visit your store or website after seeing or hearing your ads.
If an ad does work for you, keep it running consistently -- same media, same frequency, same page-- as your budget allows.
Many people who sell advertising know very little about effective ads. They will offer to create your ads for "free". This is usually not a great deal. These are sales reps who make money by selling, not writing. Occasionally, you may find a fantastic writer who also sells ads. But, it's not very likely. Make sure they follow these guidelines and create ads that will work before you sign the contract!
Better yet, practice and learn to write your own, or hire a freelance copywriter to write your ads for you.
Here are the steps to writing a good advertisement. The same formula will work for almost any media.
1. Write a good headline to get your readers' Attention. Study good ads and even newspaper headlines for ideas. Then write 10 or 15 headlines for the ad you want to write. Let them "rest" overnight, then come back the next day and pick the one that most pulls your attention. Let's choose the following headline to use: "Are You Healthy?"
2. Create Interest. After you've captured attention, you have to get them interested in what you want to tell them. There are many ways to do this--state a fact, a quote, a solution to a problem. To keep our readers interest, we could follow the headline with "8 out of 10 Americans think they are healthy. 5 out of 10 Americans are wrong."
3. Create Desire. Once they are interested, you create a desire for them to do more. Create an emotional attachment if possible. It could be to save money, have better relationships, move ahead in a job -- something that your readers would feel something about. For our example: "Don't ignore the 10 critical warning signs of serious illness that most people miss," creates a desire to find out what those signs are!
4. Tell them what Action you want them to take. It could be make a phone call, click on a website link, buy a product. Be specific. "Email firstname.lastname@example.org Today for our free report on Silent but Deadly killers".
5. Include all pertinent information in your ads--company name, company logo, product or service offered, all contact info--website, phone, fax, address. Proofread carefully!
6. Present your ad in an attractive format with lots of white space, easy to read fonts, and clear graphics or pictures. Proofread for spelling and grammar errors.
7. Keep your formatting, colors, logo, company name, and so on consistent in all ads. If your company logo is blue & green, an orange and purple ad is confusing. Simple design still works best.
8. Get feedback on your ad from coworkers, friends, even strangers. Listen and consider what they say.
9. Test your ad! Don't commit to a year's worth of repeats until you know your ad does get attention and create clients. Then, keep using it as long as it does work.
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