Building an Ad that Works

Branding ads are fun to design and can do a lot to build top-of-mind presence for a business.  The humor of Chick-fil-a’s cow’s encouraging us all to eat more chicken, the nostalgia of Coca-Cola’s polar bears and the Budweiser Clydesdales, and all of those Nike ads featuring an athlete at peak performance all come to mind as truly great branding campaigns.  They rarely show product and never contain a direct response offer.  Yet, we remember them.

Branding campaigns take time and money – lots of both, in fact.  Unfortunately, as small business owners, most of us don’t have the marketing budget to design and execute a truly effective branding campaign.  So what do we do instead?

In our world, we build the ad a little differently because we want a direct response component.  That gives the consumer a reason to take action, and the business a means of tracking ad effectiveness.

But it’s not the simple.  In fact, effective ads have five crticial elements:

1)  A simple headline that is clever, humorous or otherwise sparks interest.  Think of the  headline as the front door to the ad.  Does it entice someone to come in for more?  Your logo or company name is NEVER a good headline.

2)  An image that directly relates to the headline and supports the value proposition of the ad.  After reading the headline and seeing the supporting image, does the reader understand your value proposition?  Does the image draw the eye to the ad?  Remember, a good picture is worth a thousand words!

3)  Critical information:  how does the interested consumer learn more?   How do they find you, call you or connect with you?  What are your hours of operation?

4)  A compelling offer that promotes action.  Design an offer that will encourage new prospects to reach out to you.  The more aggressive the offer, the better the result.  Make certain you have a reliable and quantifable system in place for tracking the response to the offer.

5)  Keep it simple!  Don’t cram every scrap of information about your business, products and/or services into an ad.  Remember, the ad is there to generate response, not do the selling for you.  Simplicity can be very powerful.

Next time you design an ad for your business, do a gut check and see if it measures up to each of these five elements.