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What Makes a Great Small Business Ad?

Updated: Mar 17, 2021


The following tips are from a book called Before and After published by John McWade. 1. We All Like Surprises

Can you state an ordinary message in an unusual way? Not comedy, but differently. Commercials done this way are the ones we talk about at work the next day.


2. Keep It Simple

Don't let the design overpower the message. The idea is the most important part of the message.


3. Get Me Involved

Shock me, make me mad, make me happy, make me cry, but don't bore me and leave me cold.


4. Make Me Curious

Isn't the real purpose of an ad to make me want more information? Grab my attention and hold it.


5. Great Ads Command Answers

They demand that you respond to the ad. They are like an unanswered question that must be resolved.


6. Draw Your Own Conclusion

Isn't the strongest conclusion the one we draw ourselves? An ad that brings me to a conclusion is powerful indeed.


7. The Headline and the Image Tell the Story

The headline should never tell you what is in the picture. Only what you don't see. The headline and picture together create the story.


8. They Never Brag

Yellowstone Harley-Davidson® in Belgrade, Montana, population 3,000-4,000, once had a billboard on the edge of town proclaiming, "The largest Harley-Davidson® dealer in Belgrade!" They are not only the largest, and only dealer in Belgrade, they are the only dealer in over a hundred miles. Just a fact, not a brag.


9. They're Always Well Executed

They have good design that doesn't overpower the message. They have sharp photos, good typefaces, etc.


10. They Sell

An ad can look great and still not sell anything.In advertising, what you say is as important as how you say it.What good is an ad that wins award after award if it doesn't sell?


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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