How to make an impact with cheap and tasty ads

For a new business, the purpose of advertising is to let clients or customers know you exist, and to tell them what you are offering (see ‘Promise me anything’, The Bird’s Eye View #2). For an established business, there are other reasons to advertise: to grow and expand, to drive traffic to your website, to even out seasonal fluctuations in work load and cash flow, to nurture long-term prospects, to make your sales rep’s job easier, and to attract good employees and suppliers. But advertising can be expensive if you don’t do it right.

First, make sure you’re taking advantage of no-cost and low-cost promotional ideas: news releases, electronic bulletins or newsletters, viral marketing, and word of mouth referrals.

Then look at paid advertising, and decide which medium will be most effective in reaching your target audience. Don’t just hand your budget to the first persuasive media rep who walks in the door – there’s a science behind media planning: knowing the ideal reach and frequency of your advertising, the optimum size, colour, and placement of the ad, and the timing and duration of the campaign. A small ad in the right publication can yield much better results than a larger, more expensive ad in the wrong one.

When it comes to the look and feel of your ads, be noticeable, be understandable, and be consistent. When appropriate, use a ‘power’ word in the headline – for example: free, new, now, introducing, presenting, how to, save – to get the reader’s attention. According to research, women are attracted to pictures of women, children, and animals. Men are drawn more strongly to pictures of men, cars, and tools. Make sure the image you use is relevant to the promise you’re making to your target audience. If you use a picture of a scantily clad woman to sell wrenches, the ad will be noticed, but it will not motivate sales. If you use a picture of someone trying to change a tire with a broken wrench, the message is much more likely to have a lasting effect on your reader. Use only one or two font styles in your ad, and treat your logo with respect – not in the headline, but at the bottom of the ad, with a decent amount of space around it.

Above all, make your ads unique – so they will be noticed among the thousands of ad impressions your target audience is bombarded with every day; and uniquely yours – so they continue to build your brand.