12 Characteristics of Great Print Advertising

Volkswagen's "Think Small" print campaignVolkswagen’s classic “Think Small” campaign still epitomizes great print advertising.

With the glut of advertising and marketing that saturates our daily lives, yours must work hard to earn the customer’s attention. These 12 characteristics of great print advertising will help your next campaign do just that.

1. Keep It Simple – Less is better. One clear, compelling message is far more persuasive than a confused jumble of offers and benefits.

2. Stopping Power – Make your ad visually strong to capture the reader’s attention. You have only a second or two. If your advertising goes unnoticed, everything else is academic!

3. Clarity – Good advertising communicates quickly and convincingly. Readers won’t take the time to figure out a convoluted message – they’ll just move on.

4. What’s in it for me? – Customers want to know the benefit for them, not what’s important to you. If your ad headline says you’ve been in business for 25 years, you’re on the wrong track.

5. Frequency Matters – Your ad needs to run frequently to make an impression. Research says consumers need to see an ad three times before awareness is achieved and seven times before they’ll buy.

6. Size Matters – Larger ads have greater stopping power. Big ads also imply leadership.

7. Color Matters – Color dramatically increases the effectiveness of an ad.

8. Be Bold, Be different – Safe advertising is the riskiest advertising you can do as it’s unlikely to achieve great results.

9. Track Results – Advertising and retail pioneer John Wanamaker said, “I know half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half!” Use unique phone numbers, codes or other devices to determine which messages and/or media are performing best.

10. Budget Realistically – Most advertising fails because it’s under-funded. That’s like trying to fly across the Atlantic with only a half-tank of fuel. You’re going somewhere, but you’ll never reach your destination.

11. Use Humor – People want to be entertained. The most memorable advertising uses humor, like E-Trade’s Talking Baby or AFLAC’s slapstick duck.

12. Sex Sells – Used appropriately, sex does command attention: Think Victoria Secret and Calvin Klein.

How many of these characteristic does your advertising have?

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