On another article on our website you can find ways to solicit and use advertising in your newsletter. In this article, we look at designing an ad from scratch. There are several cases where this would be necessary. You may want to place your own ad. After all, your audience is a captive one and one that is very familiar to you. If you offer special services that would interest your readers, an ad is the perfect way to let them know. You may also be approached by a potential advertiser who wishes to advertise to your readers, but does not have an ad available for you to use. Or you may have an ad sent to you in an unusable format. For example, a faxed ad usually needs to be redone to make it legible and clean.
If you have never designed a print advertisement, it can be somewhat intimidating at first. But by following some simple guidelines, you can be sure to have clear and effective ads in every issue of your newsletter. Be sure to check out our before and after redesign of a sample ad at the end of this article!
Contrast is GoodSpace is at a premium for any print ad. How do you get your reader's attention working with such little room? The first step is to emphasize contrast. Although there are thousands of fonts available now, it is still important to remember to use only one or two in an ad. Too many typefaces can distract the reader and make your ad difficult to read.
Placing any type in all capitals is generally a bad idea as well. Text in all capitals has little contrast, as all the letters are the same height. Studies show that people’s brains process text written in lower case letters much better. In fact, the brain processes familiar words partly by the shape they form when written in lower case letters. By using all capitals, you slow your reader down, making it less likely he or she will actually read and comprehend your ad.
White space is also an important element to include in your ad. White space is essentially empty space. While it may seem to be a waste of precious space in so small an area, white space actually will make your ad clearer and more easily understood. Remember that, although you are trying to squeeze in all your information, a solid block of text won’t be read at all.
Balance in a print advertisement is an important element as well. And this doesn’t mean you necessarily have to center everything in your ad. In fact, it is often more interesting to place elements of your ad aligned all to the right or all to the left. Try to get balance from strategically placing elements such as graphics, type, and logos in such a way that your ad flows well and is balanced across the space. If one side is heavy in type, place a large-scale logo or graphic on the other side.
Picture ThisStudies show that ads with graphics or illustrations get read more often than ads with only text. And the best ads of all use images that are interesting and large! As a general rule, your graphics should take up at least a quarter of your available space and can go up from there. Small graphics are distracting to your readers and do not have enough interest to draw a reader into the ad.
Follow the ReaderWhen considering how to design an ad, it is helpful to know what type of market you are addressing. Some ads need to take a formal tone, while others can benefit from being playful and fun. In general, though, all readers follow the same type of pattern when scanning an ad. Most people read ads in a kind of reversed “S” pattern. That is, they scan an ad beginning at the top left and end up down at the bottom right. It is helpful to remember this pattern when you are laying out your ad.
Call to ActionWhen designing a print ad, don’t forget the main purpose of the ad—to sell! You have to give the reader a clear path to take. This can be as simple as remembering to place a phone number in a prominent place in the ad. Or it can be more detailed and can include such elements as coupons, special offers, or a web address. This should be both the starting and ending point of your print ad design. Know before you start what your objective is, and end by critically examining your ad to make sure that it meets that goal.
Mistakes to Avoid
- Too much clutter
Don’t forget the importance of white space. If you can’t fit in all the information you had hoped to, consider going with a larger sized ad, or editing down your information to a more manageable amount.
- Unclear message
Make sure you know what you are trying to get your reader to do before you start to design your ad. Keep this objective in mind at all times and review your ad when you are done to make sure this has been accomplished.
Even though it may seem easy to proofread such a small set of type, sometimes errors show up and are glossed over through every time. To be safe, have someone else review your ad for you also.
- Lack of contact information
This common error is particularly frustrating for readers. You may have convinced your reader to contact you or purchase your products, but if they can’t easily find contact information, they will probably not bother to look much further.
Before & After
Below is an ad before a redesign and after some changes. The ideas presented above were used to clean up this ad and make it more effective, clear, and more likely to be read. Notice that, even though, there seems to be less text in the after ad, in fact they both give the same information. Which ad do you prefer? Which do you think is more likely to be read?