Designing a Great Ad for Your Business


As a former graphic artist, I used to design ads. On good days, I would have some input into the design, the composition, and the font choices, and could turn out something of which to be proud.  Other days I worked with what was given, loading grainy photos, and scanning hand-drawn logos.  This would lead to frustration as I valiantly tried to work within the confines of a bad idea.  I might fit all the information, photos, and the prologue to the book they’re writing into a space too small to fit, knowing that no one would take the time to read it.  I would feel regret for the advertiser who was spending good money for the ad, and all the while knowing it would not have much effect because it didn’t have any kind of clear message.  And I’d think to myself, the sales representative broke the cardinal rule, Friends don’t let friends run lame ads.

Telling someone that they need to come up with a new idea takes bravery, so please respect our efforts to guide you.  It’s what we’re paid to do.  The upside? Being able to focus on running your business allows you to manage the ad copy end of it, and we do the rest.  If you let us wrestle this one away from you, more than likely we can do it better and keep the new ideas coming often enough that we start building your business into what you need it to be.

Let’s face it; creating a great ad is hard work.  Marketing degrees don’t grow on trees.  Graphic artists are upgrading their programs so often who can keep up with the new technology in ad creation?  So here’s my suggestion: let us help you.

That being said, I was asked to write about designing a winning ad.  So I’ll give you a broad overview of what I think needs to be in there, whether you want to be hands on, or you decide you’ll give us a shot at coming up with a fresh, innovative campaign to motivate buyers to fall your way with their wallets.

Before I begin my creation, I would be thinking of the audience I want to reach and the best product in our arsenal to reach that demographic. I think of your advertising goals, whether it’s clearing out old merchandise, reaching new people in the marketplace, or publicizing an event. What will my call to action be?

Basic idea generation

I mull over the information given to me in our needs analysis time, and I let ideas percolate.  I often look at photos to get my juices going. More often than not, a good photo is the first thing that is noticed in the ad.  Advertisements from similar businesses outside our market are also good to analyze.  I think about why you want to run this ad, and what you want it to do for you.  Knowing at the outset what your expectations are guides me toward the right ad and the right product at the right time.  A compelling offer guarantees interest.  If you are offering something for a limited time, make sure that you clearly state the deadline, to get the sofa sitters up and taking action.  Offer something free.  Hold a seminar to give out info and educate.  Make something happen.  Don’t be complacent and keep doing the same old thing.  Shake it up!


This is your call to action, and it’s got to be good.  Ask yourself, how will the advertiser be better off? Translate that into something compelling and you’re all set.

Ad copy

Bullet points help boil down the wording to keep the message simple and straightforward.  Paint a picture of the benefits your advertisers will enjoy.  Leave white space for the ad to breathe a little and don’t overload it with information.  Keep your font selection simple and limit to two or three at most.

Add color

Color adds drama and impact, and studies show it actually aids retention of objects viewed earlier.  Complimentary colors can be attractive, as well as wild combinations, like lime green and purple, if you need to make the ad jump off the page.

Contact information

Keep your logo and the look consistent in all advertising.  Of course, add your web address, feature the Facebook logo, or anything else that will help link your customer to your information and web site.

How does all this translate into one winning ad?

Here’s an example.  Say you own an ice cream shop.  You’ve noticed your customers are mostly the very young and retired folks.  So, a photo in your ad of a grandpa and a grandkid enjoying cones together might be just the thing.  Run it on a Friday, and Grandpa sees it in the Tempo.  He thinks about what is important to him and those he holds dear, because we’ve connected with his emotions.  He’s sees the headline: Take a bite of life.  Suddenly, he decides after church he’s going to pick up his grandkids and take them out for ice cream.  If you put in a $1 off coupon, we know who he’s coming to see.  Connect with that power by using emotion and helping your audience to feel more, think less.

I’ve discussed utilizing the services of our well trained staff to your best advantage.  I’ve covered the elements of a winning ad: idea generation, a compelling photo, a great headline, spare ad copy, the use of color and including your contact info.

You may ask, so how long do I need to advertise?  The answer is, how long do you want to be in business?  Our valley’s population continues to change and grow, competitors move in and steal market share, the economy changes, and we need to not quit advertising but to learn to be as smart as possible with our choices.  We hope you will choose us to help reach that ever-changing market, and allow us to do what we do best: help businesses grow.

Our strengths lie in the investment our company has made in our training, and the tools we have to help you understand and respond to our audience.  Readership surveys we conduct in our local market give you data you can trust, and take out the guesswork.  To reach that thin market of those few in need of your goods or services at any given time, think in terms of letting us come up with a long range campaign.  Remember, you do have to pay for your advertising space, but all of our services are free.  If you could use an unpaid ad assistant that is on staff any time you need us, let us be the one you call.

Marie Conte
Account Executive

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