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Advertising Checklist: What Works in Print, Newspaper, TV, Radio, Direct Mail and Outdoor.

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

Checklist of What Works Best in Print

1. Use Simple Layouts

One big picture works better than several small pictures. Avoid cluttered pages. (Layouts that resemble the magazine's editorial format are well read.)

2. Always Put A Caption Under a Photograph

Readership of picture captions is generally twice as great as that of body copy.

3. Don't Be Afraid of Long Copy

The people who read beyond the headline are prospects for your product or your service.

Consider long copy if you have a complex story to tell, many different product points to make, or an expensive product or service to sell.

4. Avoid Negative Headlines

People are literal minded and may remember only the negatives.

Sell the positive benefits in your product.

Look for emotional words that attract and motivate, like free and new and love.

5. Don't Be Afraid of Long Headlines

Research shows that, on the average, long headlines sell more merchandise than short ones.

6. Look for Story Appeal

After the headline, a striking visual in the most effective way to get the reader's attention.

Try for story appeal-the kind of visual that makes the reader ask: "What's going on here?"

7. Photographs Are Better Than Drawings

Research says that photography increases recall an average of 26% over artwork.

8. Look at Your Advertisement the Way It Will Appear In Print

Beautifully mounted layouts are deceptive.

The reader will never see your ad printed on high gloss paper, with a big white border.

It's misleading for you to look at it that way.

Cut your ad out and paste it into an existing newspaper page. Is it easy to spot or is it totally lost?

9. Develop A Single Advertising Format

An overall format for all print advertising can double recognition.

One format will help readers see your advertisements as coming from one large corporation, rather than several small companies.

Checklist of What Works Best in Television

1. The Picture Must Tell the Story

Forget every other rule, and you’ll still be ahead of the game. Try this trick. Watch your commercial with the sound turned off. Is the message still there?

2. Look for A Key "Visual"

Here's another test. Can you pick out one frame that visually sums up the whole message?

Most good commercials can use one single frame for a brochure or poster that tells the whole story.

3. Grab the Viewer's Attention

The first 5 seconds of a commercial are crucial.

Analysis of audience reaction show either a sharp drop or a sharp rise in interest during this time.

4. Be Single Minded

A good commercial is uncomplicated, direct. It never makes the viewer do a lot of mental work.

Longer commercials should not add copy. A 60-second spot tells the same story as a 30-second one, with more leisure and detail.

And-best of all-repetition.

5. Register the Name of Your Product

Too often, a viewer will remember the commercial but not the name of your brand.

This is a problem particularly with new products.

Showing the package on screen and mouthing the name is not enough.

Take extra pains to implant your product name in the viewer’s mind.

6. The Tone of Your Advertising Must Reflect Your Product Personality

If you are fortunate enough to have a product with an established brand image, your advertising must reflect that image.

It takes dedication on the part of advertiser and agency to build a brand personality.

Discipline yourself to reject advertising that conflicts with it.

When you launch a new product, the very tone of your announcement commercial tells viewers what to expect.

From that moment on, it is hard to change their minds.

Once you have decided on a personality for your product, sustain it in every commercial.

Change campaigns when you must, but retain the same tone of voice.

7. Avoid "Talky" Commercials

Look for the simplest, and most memorable, set of words to get across your consumer benefit.

Every word must work hard. A 30-second commercial usually allows you no more than 65 words, a 60-second commercial twice that amount.

Be specific. Eliminate clichés. flabbiness, and superlatives.

Try this-When you ask for 10 words to be added to a commercial, decide which 10 you would delete to make room for them.

Here is a tip on how to get a FREE TV ad:

The costliest form of advertising is TV. Nothing else even comes close. So, how do you get your business on TV for free? Here's one way.

Give a prize or become a sponsor of an event that will be running a lot of TV ads.

For example: Every year we have a Bridal Fair here in Bozeman. By donating a prize your company logo appears on all printed advertising and in all TV ads.

You won't be alone but it's a great way to expose your company logo and name to a large number of people.

Checklist of What Works Best in Radio

1.Stretch the Listener's Imagination

Voices and sounds can evoke pictures.

2. Listen for A Memorable Sound

What will make your commercial stand out from the clutter?

Offer a distinctive voice, a memorable jungle, a solution to the listener's problem.

3. Present an Idea

It is difficult to communicate more than one idea in a television commercial.

In radio, which is subject to more distraction, it is nearly impossible, Be direct and clear.

4. Select Your Audience Quickly

It pays to flag your segment of the audience at the beginning of the commercial-before they can switch to another station.

5. Mention Your Brand Name and Your Promise Early

Commercials that do so get higher awareness. It heightens awareness if you mention the brand name and promise more than once.

6. Capitalize on Local Events

Exploit the flexibility of radio to tie in with fads, fashions, news, events, or the weather.

7. Use Radio to Reach Teenagers

Teenagers don't watch much television. They do listen to a lot of radio.

Media experts say it's the best way to reach teens. Some say it's the only way.

8. Ask Listeners to Take Action

People respond to radio requests for action. They call the station to exchange views with the disc jockey.

Don't be afraid to ask listeners to call now, or write in, or send money.

9. Make Use of Radio's Merchandising Services

Associate your business with a popular on-air personality; sponsor promotions such as contests and giveaways.

Checklist of What Works Best in Direct Mail

1. Make Sure Your Offer Is Right

More than any other element, what you offer the consumer-in terms of product, price, or premium-will make the difference.

Consider combinations instead of single units, optional extras, different opening offers, and commitment periods.

Free is the most powerful offer you can make but beware of its attracting onlookers instead of buyers.

2. Demonstrate Your Product

Offer a free sample or enclose a sample if you can.

Sampling is the most expensive promotion in absolute cost but is often so effective that the investment is quickly paid back with a larger business base.

If you measure response on a profit per piece mailed, it sometimes pays to spend a few more cents.

3. Use the Envelope To Telegraph Your Message

Direct mail must work fast. Your envelope has only seconds to interest the prospect or go unopened into the wastebasket.

4. Have A Copy Strategy

Like any other advertising medium, direct mail will be more productive if you decide in advance the important issues.

Your mailer must hit your target audience; offer a consumer benefit; and show support, tone, and personality.

While your promise should relate specifically to your product, experts say the most potent appeals in direct mail are how to make money, save money, save time or avoid effort.

5. Grab Your Reader's Attention

Every beginning copywriter in direct mail learns the AIDA formula.

The letters stand for the ideal structure of a sales letter:

attention, interest, desire, action.

Look for a dramatic opening, one that speaks to the reader in a very personal way.

6. Don't Be Afraid of Long Copy

The more you tell, the more you sell-particularly if you're asking the reader to spend a great deal of money or invest time.

A Mercedes-Benz diesel car letter was 5 pages long. A Cunard Line letter for ocean cruises was eight pages long.

The key to long copy is facts. Be specific, not general. Make the letter visually appealing.

Break up the copy into smaller paragraphs and emphasize important points with under lines or handwritten notes.

Including several pieces in a direct-mail package often improves response.

7. Don't Let Your Reader Off the Hook

Leave your readers with something to do, so they won't procrastinate.

It's too easy to put off a decision. Use action devices like a yes/no token to be stuck on a reply card.

Involvement is important. Prod them to act now. Set a fixed period of time, like ten days.

Or make only a limited supply available. Make it extremely easy for the reader to respond to your offer.

But always ask for the order.

8. Pretest Your Promises and Headlines

Don't guess at what will appeal to the reader. There are many ways to sell your product benefits and as many inexpensive testing methods.

Avoid humor, tricks, or gimmicks. It pays to be serious and helpful.

Checklist of What Works Best In Outdoor Advertising

1. Look for A Big Idea

This is no place for subtleties. Outdoor is bold medium. You need a poster that registers the idea quickly and memorably.

Shock the viewer into awareness.

2. Keep It Simple

Cut out all extraneous words and pictures and concentrate on the essentials.

Use no more than seven words of copy and one picture.

3. Personalize When You Can

Personalized posters are practical, even for the short run.

Mention a specific geographic area ("Mount Rushmore") or the name of a local dealer.

4. Look for Human, Emotional Content For Memorability

It can be an entertainment medium for travelers who are hungry or bored.

5. Use Color for Readability

The most readable combination is black on yellow. Other combinations may gain more attention but stay with primary colors-and stay away from reverse text (white text on a black background)

6. Use the Location to Your Advantage

Many new housing developments capitalize on their convenient locations with a poster saying, "If you lived here, you'd be home by now."

Use outdoor to tell the truck driver your restaurant is just down the road, or your store is across the street.

Tailor the language and the models to your consumer.

There are lots of ways to get your message to your customers. These are just a few suggestions to get you started.

Based in Bozeman, MT, Tom Egelhoff is the author of, “The Small-Town Advertising Handbook: How To Say More And Spend Less,” and "How to Market, Advertise and Promote Your Business or Service in Your Own Backyard." He is also a seminar and workshop presenter and trainer. He may be reached at 406-580-1104

Listen in on Tom's Saturday weekly radio show "Open For Business" on AM 1450 KMMS Radio, Bozeman. Have a business question for Tom? Click here to get Tom's advice for free.

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