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Creating a Successful Print Advertisement

Posted on March 14, 2011 in Print, Articles

Source: Marketing Renaissance

If you know the basic format and proven techniques that are incorporated into every successful advertisement, writing a good print ad is not difficult.


The first step in creating a good advertisement is to establish the appeal – the reason the reader will buy, or request more information. The four main appeals are; sex, which includes love, affection and friendship; greed, things money can buy; fear, fear of not getting what you want, or losing what you have; and, duty or professionalism, what’s best for those you serve (best for the family, patients, etc.)

Headlines that Capture your Audience

Next, write the copy. For many copywriters that means writing the headline first. It’s the most important part of the advertisement as it has to grab attention and get readers into the copy. Whether you start with the headline or the body copy, the headline should be based on the product’s key selling point, and the copy should flow naturally from it.

Below are headline techniques that work.

  • Using the appeal in the headline.
  • Communicating easy ordering and fast delivery.
  • Making your headline newsworthy.
  • Using a benefit or mentioning the offer.
  • Asking a question.
  • Using a headline with multiple parts.
  • In small ads using a one-word headline.

According to John Caples’s book, Tested Advertising Methods, there are three classes of successful headlines:

    Self-interest Headlines. Appeals to the reader’s self-interest – it contains a personal benefit to the reader and are the number one performers.
    News Headlines. Provide “news” and are rated the next best.
    Curiosity Headlines. Rated third best, arouses curiosity in the reader. For curiosity headlines to be effective they should be combined with self-interest or news.

The first paragraph of the copy must captivate the reader. All successful ads accomplish this by using one of the following:

  • A startling statement
  • News
  • A Quotation, or
  • A Story

The first paragraph should also be short, continue the thought of the headline, and state the most important benefits of the product.

Key Body Basics

The body of the copy should state the benefits of using your product or service. It should emphasize how they are different, or better, than your competitors’ benefits — this is known as the unique selling proposition.

Do the following to strengthen your body copy even further:

  • Mention the offer in the first paragraph or subhead.
  • Emphasize “no obligation” and use the word “free”.
  • Use long copy.  Or, as much copy as will fit into the ad size.
  • Use testimonials.
  • Create a sense of urgency to respond quickly.
  • Use simple words and a simple writing style.
  • Make it easy for the customer to reach you.  Print the telephone number, fax number, mailing address, and the web address to a landing page.


The size of the headline font should be big and powerful enough to grab the attention of the reader.

Pictures can be helpful, but, if possible, don’t use pictures that have nothing to do with the product or service. You want the pictures to attract buyers, not curiosity seekers. Pictures of the product, of the product in use, and of people using the product, work best.


Where and when to place your ads are vital to its success, so it’s important to put together a strategy and media plan. The media plan is a schedule of ad placements for the year, and includes, the publication name, which ad will run, dates the ads will appear, size of the ads, placement within the publication, and fees.

How to Create the Media Plan

First, determine which publications are read by your target audience. Then, order their media kits. The kits will contain publication dates, editorial content, pricing, and the Business Publication Audit (BPA), which reports the circulation numbers and detailed demographics.

Ad pricing is determined by the following factors:

  • Ad size – i.e. full page ad, half page, quarter page, etc.
  • Frequency – How many times the ad will run during the year.
  • Placement – location of the ad inside the magazine, i.e. back cover, inside back cover, inside front cover, inside spread, etc.
  • Color.  Rates will also vary depending on whether it is black and white, or two, three or four color.

Create a Placement Schedule

When evaluating issue dates, review the editorial calendar located within the media kit.  Place your ad in the issues that are running an editorial about your industry or product type.