Advertising costs money – so why is it that so many people waste their money by creating ads that are ineffective, boring, and don’t have any focus? Before agreeing to advertise, whether it’s in a publication, online or in the broadcast media, think carefully about what you want the ad to do for you. If you don’t have focus, neither will your ad!

Here is a selection of tips that will help you to sharpen your focus:

1. Every ad needs an attention grabbing statement whether written or broadcast. It’s the ‘headline’ that tells people it’s worth exploring further.

2. What do you want people to do when they’ve read or listened to your ad? What do they need to know to want to do it? Don’t put unnecessary information in – make sure that every word and picture earns its space.

3. How influential is your brand? If you’re not a nationally known name, it might not need to be very big. If you have a well-known brand it may influence people to read more or even to buy, if you’re not known, your brand won’t help you and takes up valuable (and expensive) space.

4. It may seem ridiculous to say this, but don’t forget to include a means of contacting you and your web address. It’s surprising how many people forget to add a phone/email contact. The web address on its own just means people have to work harder than necessary to get in touch; they may not bother.

5. People will sometimes want to check you out so, if you want people to be impressed when they visit your website, make sure that the image is consistent with what is in the ad. Also make sure that the site is sticky and engages people when they get there. It’s no good investing all that money in an ad when people get to your website and don’t understand what you’re trying to tell them – or can’t see anything useful. They’ll just leave.

6. If you’ve got pictures in your ad, put them to the right and the copy to the left. We read from left to right and generally scan pictures from top to bottom, so pictures that have a message on their right often prevent people from reading it, they just scan down and carry on underneath the picture. Getting the layout right improves your chances of the ad being read.

7. When including testimonials ONLY use the power statement, not the whole thing. The power statement is the bit that tells people what the customer got that made a difference, the information about how nice and friendly your team were doesn’t work anywhere near as well.
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