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Last week, in Why Isn’t My Advert Converting? Part I I discussed print advertising. Specifically, what it does and the results you should expect from it.

This week I’m getting into the nitty-gritty. Here’s my checklist of all the things you should consider if you are thinking of investing in advertising, or if you are wondering whether the design of an existing advert is working for you.

  1. Readership

So, you are looking around for somewhere to advertise your wares. Before you dive headfirst into bed with the most engaging local or glossy magazine, give some thought to readership. All magazines have a clear and committed view of the kind of people that make up their readership. For starters, this should in some way match your own description of your dream client.

If you don’t have much choice because you are based in a rural area and there’s only one local magazine, hang on a minute. There are other places you could advertise. For example, your local schools probably have a magazine or an event at which you could advertise; if local parents are your target client, this would be far more suitable because it’s a more concentrated audience.

  1. Does anyone actually read it?

Once you’ve established that it’s the right publication, double-check that people actually look inside the covers of this periodical. Perhaps it exists only to provide a healthy profit to the publisher in the form of advertising spend. There might be a high readership, of which only 5% ever open the pages. Ask your neighbours and local friends if they genuinely read the magazine that comes through their door every month.

  1. Getting the right spot

In general, adverts on right-hand pages are more expensive because readers are more likely to look at them, as are the back and front covers. So, if one month you’ve got something big to say, increase your return by moving to a more prominent position for a one-off.

Make sure you ask who you are being situated with inside the magazine. If you are a florist, for example, being positioned next to a local wedding photographer or funeral director could be beneficial.

  1. Visual Identity

Before you embark on any advertising put some work into the visual identity for your business. It’s hugely important that there is no ‘expectation gap’ in your marketing process. This means that the visual style of the advert should be recognisably the same as the next thing the reader will see from your business. Whether that is your website, a Facebook page or a brochure that they can get hold of locally. Check that the designs match, with the same colours, fonts and images.

  1. Refer to the problem you solve

If you’ve got a quarter page ad, or something even smaller, you might struggle to fit lots of words in, but you should always, somehow, refer to the pain point or problem that you solve for your customer. You could do this through the copy, the image you choose to use or through your strapline. If you are really stuck for word count, you could even have a web domain that reflects how you help customers, such as www.comparethemarket.com.

  1. Appeal to the emotional benefits

Prospects need different kinds of information from you at different stages of the buying cycle. When they first see your advert, they are likely to be very near the beginning of their decision to purchase whatever you are selling.  They will, therefore, need a convincing description of the emotional benefits that you can deliver, rather than specific technical details about features or cost savings you can offer.

  1. Include social proof if possible

If you can possibly cram it in, try to include some social proof – by which I mean the opinion of a bona fide customer. If you are really limited on space, ape the style of the classic London Underground theatre production advertisement. That might mean just squeezing in: ‘Fantastic!’, Sue from Brighton.

  1. Don’t forget the call to action

This sounds obvious but you’d be amazed by how many adverts have no call to action at all. Space is usually tight but a simple ‘Visit us at….’ followed by your web address is better than nothing. You need to provide some kind of next step to building a relationship with you – at the end of the day, that’s what you are paying for.

If you can include a mechanism to track where your lead came from in the call to action, even better. You could offer a discount when you quote the name of the magazine or bring a copy into your premises, or give an online code that creates a special offer for readers of this magazine.

I’d love to help you sort out an advertising campaign for your business, and help to work out how it might fit in with the rest of your marketing. If you’d like some free advice on your next steps, click here.


Why Isn’t My Advert Converting? Part 1

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