Principles for Good Ads
2. November 2012
As adapted from B2B Magazine
- What are your potential buyers doing now?
- What do I want them to do differently?
- What about my product will make them change?
- How do I best communicate the benefits of my product?
- Has a high degree of visual magnetism
An ad should be constructed so that a single component dominates the area — a picture, the headline or the text but not your company name or logo.
- Selects the right audience
There should be something in the ad that at first glance will enable readers to identify it as a source of information relating to their job interests — a problem they have or an opportunity they welcome.
- Promises a reward
An ad will work only if readers are given reason to expect that if they continue on, they will learn something of value. A brag-and-boast headline, a generalization, a platitude will turn off readers before they get into the message. The promise should be specific. “Lower maintenance cost” is not as effective as “Cut maintenance cost 25%.”
- Backs up the promise
The ad must provide hard evidence that the claim is valid. “They say” advertising carries more weight than “we say” messages.
- Presents the selling proposition in logical sequence
Organize the parts of an ad so that there is an unmistakable entry point (the single dominant component mentioned earlier) and the reader is guided through the material in a sequence consistent with the selling proposition.
- Talks person-to-person
Copy is more persuasive when it speaks to the reader as an individual — as if it were one friend telling another friend about a good thing. The terms should be the terms of the reader’s business not the advertiser’s business.
- Is easy to read
Test type should be no smaller than 9 point. It should appear black on white. It should stand clear of interference from any other part of the ad. Column width should not be more than half the width of the ad. More than that, the writing style should be simple: short words, short sentences, short paragraphs, active rather than passive voice, no advertising clichés, with frequent use of the personal pronoun you.
- Emphasizes the product not the source
An ad should make readers want to buy — or at least consider buying — before telling them where to buy.
- Reflects the company character
A company’s advertising should portray the company’s personality — the things that will make the company liked, respected, admired. A messy ad tends to indicate a messy company. A brag-and-boast ad suggests the company is maker-oriented, not user-oriented. A dull looking ad raises the possibility that the company has nothing to get excited about, is behind the times, is slowing down. Then too, there should be a quickly understood connection between one ad and the next. Readers shouldn’t have to figure out who you are from one ad to another. Your ads should also have a similar look-and-feel to your literature, website, direct mail and all other collateral sales material.
- Always includes a “call to action”
Motivate the reader to take a next step. Then make it easy with a toll free number, URL, easy finance terms, and so on.