Two Guidelines for
Powerful Ad Design

Also See These Articles Related to "Effective Advertising":

1. Your Marketing Mix
2. Small Business Advertising
3. Sample Marketing Plans

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Effective advertising is dependent on a number of factors. I've developed several guidelines for creating such ads. Here are two of those guidelines. I hope you find this information helpful in your own marketing efforts. 1. Accurately Determine the Purpose of the Ad.

While I was consulting for a language school in Japan, the school director (an Australian man), asked me for advice about the school’s yellow pages ad. He showed me the ad they’d been running and explained it wasn’t getting the results he wanted. The ad was crowded with information about course titles, teachers’ credentials, class schedules, facilities, and more.

I asked what results he’d been expecting from the ad. He said he expected the ad to “get students to enroll.” That was the problem. “The purpose of this ad,” I said, “is to make the phone ring, nothing more. Once the call comes in, it is then the sales team’s job to turn the inquiring person into a student.”

It was as if a light went on over his head as he suddenly realized the mistake he’d been making. He had not accurately defined the purpose of the ad. His error in strategy had led to an error in tactics, namely an incorrectly designed ad.

Needless to say, his ad has been completely redesigned. Now that its strategic purpose is clear, the results have improved dramatically.

Accurately defining an ad’s purpose (strategy) before designing the ad (tactics) is critical to creating effective advertising. For more on Strategy and Tactics see this article: Small Business Advertising.
2. Don't State. Demonstrate.

It’s one thing for your advertising to say you sell or do something, but you’ll create far more effective advertising if the ads themselves actually demonstrate your claims.

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Here’s an example. In a current issue of a Los Angeles lifestyle magazine there is an ad for an advertising agency. The ad features the name of the agency and below the name are the words: “Creative. Imaginative. Distinctive.” Those are powerful qualities for an ad agency, but there is no trace of those qualities in the ad design itself. Instead, it features a plain rectangle box with a strip of plain gray running horizontally through it in which the agency’s name appears, with the tag words running beneath. Hardly creative, imaginative or distinctive.

Running this ad actually does the agency more harm than good for two reasons. 1.) It doesn’t demonstrate the creativity, imagination or distinctive design abilities for which an agency might be hired and
2.) The design actually contradicts the statements within the ad. This instantly creates doubt as to the company’s credibility and trustworthiness.

Even worse, in the same magazine there is an ad for another agency. This ad shows an attention getting and humorous graphic, accompanied by a strategic and witty tag line. It has no other text except for the company’s name and contact information.

Which ad do you think gets greater results?

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This problem is everywhere. I was recently handed promotional materials for a printing company. The name of the company implied highest quality, yet the material they gave me was poorly designed, and imprecisely printed on cheap bond paper. How much do you think promotional material like that helps a company? How much do you think it hurts?

Demonstrating vs. Stating produces effective advertising because it allows the reader to infer the company’s creativity, professionalism, quality, and other concepts for themselves.

Demonstrating rather than Stating carries over to all aspects of your business. Are you saying one thing but demonstrating another?

As you might imagine, there are many more aspects to creating effective advertising. Use these two guidelines to get your ads on the right track. Check out the related articles on this website, too. If you’d like more help, contact a professional for guidance.

-by Andrew Sokol
Andrew Sokol is a Business and Marketing Strategist.
He is also the publisher of this website.
Andrew is available for private consulting and public speaking.
He can be reached by clicking Contact Us


1. Small Business Advertising
2. Your Marketing Mix
3. Sample Marketing Plans

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