Designing a great ad is an art that takes practice
In my work as a magazine publisher, I see all sorts of print ads, from good to bad, appealing to boring, effective to ineffective. While ad creation is an art, one that requires both practice and talent, it’s also something that can be learned.
The biggest difference between a good ad and a bad ad is the use of white space. Novices fill every square millimeter of space with stuff: information and images they deem relevant and critical to their message. And if the words don’t all fit, they simply reduce the point size of the font until it does. Then to make key words or certain phrases stand out, they use italics, bold, underline, and uppercase. While none of these are necessarily bad, they need to be used with much restraint.
Seasoned ad creators do the opposite. They know:
- White space is your friend.
- Graphics or photos are the focal points to grab attention and draw them in. Remember: “A picture speaks a thousand words.”
- Embellishing text with bold, underline, italic, and UPPERCASE screams is seldom a good move.
- Having less text increases the chance people will actually read it.
With these basics out of the way, here are some tips about the words in the ad:
- Put the reader first; give them value. It’s not about you.
- Communicate one message.
- Write a great headline; make it count.
- Use a subhead if it advances your message.
- Every word you use must have a purpose.
- Make the text readable and flow. Complete sentences, correct punctuation, and even grammar technicalities don’t matter.
- Include a compelling call to action at the end.
- Carefully proof the ad, and have other people review it.
These are the ads that get people’s attention. They elevate your book and position it as a must-read. And if the ad has a compelling call to action, they may even buy your book.
Today’s prospects look at pictures and scan headlines. They don’t actually read something unless you grab their attention first – and then you need to keep it by presenting a short and interesting message.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.