Every day in every newspaper I see many examples of why most ads do not work . . . in the sense of getting customers to come in or call. Far too many ads fail because they had no chance to begin with.
Avoid these 11 mistakes and improve your ads immediately:
1. Using the name of your company as the headline of your ad. The name of your company is about as exciting as watching paint dry. You have less than 3 seconds to engage the reader. No engagement, no chance.
2. Running only a percentage off as your headline. When is the last time you deposited a percentage in your bank account? 25% off of what? Fine to show a percentage savings, but only if you show comparative pricing along with it: Regular $8-$200, SAVE 25%, Sale $6 - $150.
3. Reversing out small type in a color or black background. Anyone who does this simply does not understand that newsprint (the paper used to print newspapers) is porous and when the ink is transferred to the paper it automatically explodes.
Far too often advertisements that looked like absolute winners on the print proof produced on an ink-jet or laser printer turn out to be unreadable on a newspaper page.
Newspapers may claim the poor reproduction is from the early part of the print run and that the register improved later in the printing process. Bunk! Someone should have raised a red flag from the beginning that running skinny or tiny type in reverse rarely reproduces well on newsprint.
Ad agencies that produce these ads should know better. Sometimes they do, sometimes not so much. In all cases, the newspaper will be blamed for murdering our perfectly good art. Without exception, the crime is always committed at the original production level.
4. Using photos (color or black and white) as a background over which you print your advertising message. Doing this is dicey at best. Some newspaper presses can pull it off but most cannot.
If the publication is being printed on a web press employing heat to set the ink, the chances of satisfactory reproduction improve. Note: heat set is used mostly on special upgraded newsprint not on regular run of press newspapers.
5. Failing to take ownership of your own advertising specifications. Translation: you allow each publication do its own thing with your ad.
Ad A does not look like ad B. Small businesses should specify border, typestyle, illustration style, logo, etc. and insist that every publication follow YOUR specs. More brand for your buck.
6. Lazy copy: Call for details. Stop in for more information. Get real! When is the last time YOU responded to this kind of hazy offer? State details in plain coffee-shop English.
Not doing so amounts to lazy copy . . . relegating your offer to the trash heap of ineffective ads.
7. 5 pounds of widgets in a 1-pound sack. If your budget allows only a certain size space, use that space to make an impression. Jamming what should be a quarter page ad into an eighth page space NEVER works. Most people do not read publications with a magnifying glass in one hand.
8. Ridiculous come-ons: priced under cost. If a widget costs $25 and you sell it for $19, say WHY. No one is dumb enough to believe that anyone does business below their real costs!
9. Wrong kind of photos. Print publications have different standards for photos - measured in dots per inch(DPI). Web site photos require the least dots per inch; high gloss publications the most.
Newspapers usually require 150 to 300 DPI. Running a 1200 DPI or an 80 DPI photo in a newspaper is shooting craps with the reproduction of your photo.
Avoid cutting photos out of brochures or catalogs and expecting the newspaper to reproduce them dot for dot. It will not and cannot happen.
10. NO copy . . . prices only. Even high fashion merchandise like clothing or vehicles needs copy to support the price. You might expect that everyone knows why a Gucci handbag is $250. Not so. You need to tell them in terms of what is in it for them to carry a Gucci bag.
11. Not building ad to correct mechanical sizes. Anyone who does business with more than one newspaper already knows that each publication may require a different mechanical size for a given advertisement.
A two column wide ad will vary in width depending on the column sizes of the newspaper. Build your ad to the proper size. Do not allow your ad to be shrunk or expanded.
Print this column out and use it. The effectiveness of your ads will improve.
Bob Schumacher books and articles give entrepreneurs a clear coffee-shop English perspective on how to steer their business or profession into the top 20% who achieve 80% of the business and profits. Visit http://www.20do80.com for a complete directory of his articles and books.