Myth: One big ad will make a big impression.
Reality: The same money invested in a regular series of small ads will yield bigger results.
First of all, you want to give the image of stability. Repetition also helps people notice and retain your message.
Myth: Change your ads all the time. Readers get tired of the same thing.
Reality: Develop a good campaign, or theme for your ads. Stick with that one campaign, and only make small changes of headlines or details.
Absolut vodka used one advertising campaign for years and years: the shape of the bottle. Looking through my local weekly paper, Jan’s Collectible’s has used the same vintage border for a long time. It is recognizable.
Myth: The newspaper staff can make all the design decisions.
Reality: It’s your business. Ask for what you want!
Follow some good evergreen design advice, from Troy White. The number one design problem I have with my local paper is a lack of white space in ads. Their designers love to dominate the ad with stock clipart, and tend to change fonts and designs each time. Me? I want tons of white space, I think clipart is secondary or accent material only, and I want a consistent theme. Now, in all honesty, that means I layout my own ads. In Publisher. Not high tech, but effective nonetheless. If you don’t do layout yourself, then you have to work well with the paper on layout.
Start early, well before deadlines.
Give them a pencil sketch of your ad.
Insist on a proof.
- Take the finished ad, circle the items you want to have as a permanent part of your campaign or theme. Ask that these always be included.
Don’t forget these basics:
- Include accurate, easy to read contact info. All of it. Yes, every time.
- Create a compelling offer. That’s the center piece of any ad.
This article is part of the Small Biz 100, a series of 100 practical hands-on posts for small business people and solo entrepreneurs, whether in a small town, the big city, or in between. If you have questions you’d like us to address in this series, leave a comment or send us an email at email@example.com. This is a community project!
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Carl V. Natale says
Good tips. Do you have similar strategies for advertising on Craigslist?
Becky McCray says
Thanks, Carl. A very interesting question! With my rural location, so far from the metro areas, I have paid Craigslist very little serious attention. Have you given it some coverage?