Wednesday, 26 September 2012

How to Create an Effective Print Ad

Writen by Ikechukwu Stanley 26th September, 2012

The Essentials of Advertising for Your Business  
Your business's print advertisements need to give readers a reason to be interested in your business; they must be clear, succinct, informative, and inviting. Your print ad has just a split second to attract attention and quickly explain why your product or service has some lasting benefits to those who read about it. This procedure can help you create an eye-catching print ad:
  1. Hammer out your headlines
In nearly all cases, the headline is the single most-important element of a print ad. Strive to be clear and concise in your headlines. Avoid the temptation to become so “creative” that your meaning is lost or obscured.
Where the headline is placed within, the ad is as important as what the headline says. You need to make sure that the headline dominates the ad so it can be quickly understood. Too often, the headline, which includes the most important information within an ad, is lost in a muddle of too many type fonts, graphics, and other elements.
  1. Shape your subheads.
In addition to the main headline, a subhead can impart secondary information. The headline must grab readers, but the subhead can explain the deal further. Not all ads require a subhead, but this element, generally set in smaller type, is there to give the reader additional information without cluttering up your ad.
  1. Build your body copy
The body copy, also known as the sell copy, is where you can explain your offer in detail. But, like everything else in a good print ad, you need to keep the body copy brief — and possibly not include it at all.
  1. Generate your graphics/image.
The graphic/image element of your ad is there to attract the readers’ eyes and interest them enough to read your body copy. The graphic/image element usually calls attention to, or complements, the headline — the two elements work together to create the overall ambience of the ad.
Make sure your ad's graphic/image element is relevant to what you’re selling. A photo of a girl in a bikini isn’t the best way to sell anything except bikinis. Health and fitness spas are always using bathing suit babes as their central graphic. (Are people really dumb enough to believe that those women are actually members?)
Note: The rules of graphics/image can be broken except if you know how to disrupt and when to disrupt.
Disruption is a unique way of ensuring that positive change is implemented and based on a firm knowledge of the category a brand operates within.

  1. Decide on a final layout.
The design and layout of an ad is everything. This figure illustrates a sample layout for a magazine ad. If you stick to this kind of layout, you can’t go wrong.

How to Design a Print Ad
If you have never designed a print advertisement, it can be somewhat intimidating at first. But by following some simple guidelines, you can be sure to have clear and effective ads in every issue of your newsletter. Be sure to check out our before and after redesign of a sample ad at the end of this article!

Contrast is Good
Space is at a premium for any print ad. How do you get your reader's attention working with such little room? The first step is to emphasize contrast. Although there are thousands of fonts available now, it is still important to remember to use only one or two in an ad. Too many typefaces can distract the reader and make your ad difficult to read.
Placing any type in all capitals is generally a bad idea as well. Text in all capitals has little contrast, as all the letters are the same height. Studies show that people’s brains process text written in lower case letters much better. In fact, the brain processes familiar words partly by the shape they form when written in lower case letters. By using all capitals, you slow your reader down, making it less likely he or she will actually read and comprehend your ad.
White space is also an important element to include in your ad. White space is essentially empty space. While it may seem to be a waste of precious space in so small an area, white space actually will make your ad clearer and more easily understood. Remember that, although you are trying to squeeze in all your information, a solid block of text won’t be read at all.

Balancing Act
Balance in a print advertisement is an important element as well. And this doesn’t mean you necessarily have to center everything in your ad. In fact, it is often more interesting to place elements of your ad aligned all to the right or all to the left. Try to get balance from strategically placing elements such as graphics, type, and logos in such a way that your ad flows well and is balanced across the space. If one side is heavy in type, place a large-scale logo or graphic on the other side.

Picture This
Studies show that ads with graphics or illustrations get read more often than ads with only text. And the best ads of all use images that are interesting and large! As a general rule, your graphics should take up at least a quarter of your available space and can go up from there. Small graphics are distracting to your readers and do not have enough interest to draw a reader into the ad.

Follow the Reader
When consider how to design an ad, it is helpful to know what type of market you are speaking to. Some ads need to take a formal tone, while others can benefit from being playful and fun. In general, though, all readers follow the same type of pattern when scanning an ad. Most people read ads in a kind of reversed “S” pattern. That is, they scan an ad beginning at the top left and end up down at the bottom right. It is helpful to remember this pattern when you are laying out your ad.

Call to Action
When designing a print ad, don’t forget the main purpose of the ad—to sell! You have to give the reader a clear path to take. This can be as simple as remembering to place a phone number in a prominent place in the ad. Or it can be more detailed and can include such elements as coupons, special offers, or a web address. This should be both the starting and ending point of your print ad design. Know before you start what your objective is, and end by critically examining your ad to make sure that it meets that goal.

Mistakes to Avoid
Too much clutter – Don’t forget the importance of white space. If you can’t fit in all the information you had hoped to, consider going with a larger sized ad, or editing down your information to a more manageable amount.
Unclear message – Make sure you know what you are trying to get your reader to do before you start to design your ad. Keep this objective in mind at all times and review your ad when you are done to make sure this has been accomplished.
Errors – Even though it may seem easy to proofread such a small set of type, sometimes errors show up and are glossed over through every time. To be safe, have someone else review your ad for you also.
Lack of contact information – This common error is particularly frustrating for readers. You may have convinced your reader to contact you or purchase your products, but if they can’t easily find contact information, they will probably not bother to look much further.

Before & After
Below is an ad before a redesign and after some changes. The ideas presented above were used to clean up this ad and make it more effective, clear, and more likely to be read. Notice that, even though, there seems to be less text in the after ad, in fact they both give the same information. Which ad do you prefer? Which do you think is more likely to be read?

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Ikechukwu Stanley: Public Relations

Public relations (PR) is a way for companies, organizations or people to enhance their reputations. This task typically is performed by public relations professionals or PR firms on behalf of their clients. PR usually involves communicating with the media and through the media to present the clients in the most favorable way possible. It also often involves cooperative efforts with other people and organizations to create good will within the community and enhance the client's image.

Image is Important

The business world can be extremely competitive. Companies typically want to have something that makes them stand out from the crowd, something that makes them more appealing and interesting to both members of the public and the media. A favorable image can help increase a company's sales, and negative publicity can damage a company's reputation and decrease sales.

PR Departments

PR can give consumers and the media a better understanding of how a company works. Within a company, a PR department might also be called a public information department or a customer relations department. These departments assist customers if they have any problems with the company. They usually try to show the company at its best. PR departments also might conduct research to learn how satisfied customers are with the company and its products.

Tools Used

There are many tools and methods that a public relations department can use to enhance a company's image. The tools that have been traditionally used include news releases and announcements that are sent to the media, newsletters that are sent to customers and appearances at public events, such as trade shows or conventions. With the proliferation of the Internet, PR departments now can also use tools such as blogs and social media networks to accomplish their goals

Providing a Positive Spin

Many people have the perception of PR as a way to "spin" news and information, which means to portray the news or information in the best possible way for the company. For example, if a company announces layoffs, its PR department might claim that the company is lowering its costs and making itself more efficient, so it will be better able to serve its customers and offer lower prices. As long as those things are true, then the PR department is doing its job of protecting its reputation and image. Stretching the truth to create a positive spin, however, can end up being detrimental to the company if exaggerations or even half-truths are exposed.

Working in Public Relations

There are certain skills that are helpful for people who work in public relations. These include a high level of communication skills, both written and verbal. A PR person also must be adept at multitasking and time management. He or she might have some form of media background or training to understand how the media works. Organizational and planning skills also are important in public relations.
A PR employee must be able to work well under pressure. He or she must have the ability to answer a barrage of questions from the media and members of the public, if necessary. If a company comes under a verbal attack, it is the PR department that must take control of the situation. The PR department must effectively respond to the criticism to protect the company’s reputation.
A public relations employee usually has a relevant college degree, such as a bachelor's degree in communications, journalism or marketing. Competition for jobs in PR is fierce. A talented public relations worker might be able to work his or her way up from a junior account executive to an account director in about five years. The hours can be long and the job can be stressful, but for successful PR workers, the pay can be good because of the importance that companies place on their reputations.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Basic Definitions: Advertising, Marketing, Promotion, Public Relations and Publicity, and Sales

It's easy to become confused about these terms: advertising, marketing, promotion, public relations and publicity, and sales. The terms are often used interchangeably. However, they refer to different -- but similar activities. Some basic definitions are provided below. A short example is also provided hopefully to help make the terms more clear to the reader.

One Definition of Advertising

Advertising is bringing a product (or service) to the attention of potential and current customers. Advertising is focused on one particular product or service. Thus, an advertising plan for one product might be very different than that for another product. Advertising is typically done with signs, brochures, commercials, direct mailings or e-mail messages, personal contact, etc.

One Definition of Promotion

Promotion keeps the product in the minds of the customer and helps stimulate demand for the product. Promotion involves ongoing advertising and publicity (mention in the press). The ongoing activities of advertising, sales and public relations are often considered aspects of promotions.

One Definition of Marketing

Marketing is the wide range of activities involved in making sure that you're continuing to meet the needs of your customers and getting value in return. Marketing is usually focused on one product or service. Thus, a marketing plan for one product might be very different than that for another product. Marketing activities include "inbound marketing," such as market research to find out, for example, what groups of potential customers exist, what their needs are, which of those needs you can meet, how you should meet them, etc. Inbound marketing also includes analyzing the competition, positioning your new product or service (finding your market niche), and pricing your products and services. "Outbound marketing" includes promoting a product through continued advertising, promotions, public relations and sales.

One Definition of Public relations

Public relations includes ongoing activities to ensure the overall company has a strong public image. Public relations activities include helping the public to understand the company and its products. Often, public relations are conducted through the media, that is, newspapers, television, magazines, etc. As noted above, public relations is often considered as one of the primary activities included in promotions.

One Definition of Publicity

Publicity is mention in the media. Organizations usually have little control over the message in the media, at least, not as they do in advertising. Regarding publicity, reporters and writers decide what will be said.

One Definition of Sales

Sales involves most or many of the following activities, including cultivating prospective buyers (or leads) in a market segment; conveying the features, advantages and benefits of a product or service to the lead; and closing the sale (or coming to agreement on pricing and services). A sales plan for one product might be very different than that for another product.
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The suggestion that using this product puts the user ahead of the times e.g. a toy manufacturer encourages kids to be the first on their block to have a new toy .
Statistics and objective factual information is used to prove the superiority of the product e.g. a car manufacturer quotes the amount of time it takes their car to get from 0 to 100 k.p.h.
“Weasel words" are used to suggest a positive meaning without actually really making any guarantee e.g. a scientist says that a diet product might help you to lose weight the way it helped him to lose weight .
The suggestion that some almost miraculous discovery makes the product exceptionally effective e.g. a pharmaceutical manufacturer describes a special coating that makes their pain reliever less irritating to the stomach than a competitor`s .
The suggestion that purchasing this product shows your love of your country e.g. a company brags about its product being made in America and employing American workers.

Diversion seems to tackle a problem or issue, but then throws in an emotional non-sequitor or distraction.   e.g. a tobacco company talks about health and smoking, but then shows a cowboy smoking a rugged cigarette after a long day of hard work.
Words and ideas with positive connotations are used to suggest that the positive qualities should be associated with the product and the user e.g. a textile manufacturer wanting people to wear their product to stay cool during the summer shows people wearing fashions made from their cloth at a sunny seaside setting where there is a cool breeze.
The suggestion that the product is a practical product of good value for ordinary people e.g. a cereal manufacturer shows an ordinary family sitting down to breakfast and enjoying their product .
The suggestion that the use of the product makes the customer part of an elite group with a luxurious and glamorous life style e.g. a coffee manufacturer shows people dressed in formal gowns and tuxedos drinking their brand at an art gallery .
Bribery seems to give a desirable extra something.  We humans tend to be greedy. e.g. Buy a burger; get free fries.
A famous personality is used to endorse the product e.g. a famous basketball player (Michael Jordan) recommends a particular brand of skates.
Customers are attracted to products that divert the audience by giving viewers a reason to laugh or to be entertained by clever use of visuals or language.

Top 10 Controversial Billboards

Though you may not know it, the billboard has been around since 1867, but today it’s probably not what you think of when you hear the word advertisements. You probably think something more along the line of a pop-up or those annoying commercials that come on the radio. While many of them are still simply used as advertisement or as a way of letting people know that the next rest stop is in 20 miles and that McDonalds is 5 miles away on the right, some have really caused a lot of controversy with the messages they spread. Of course with freedom of speech being thrown all over the place, in many locations there is no way to say what can or cannot be put onto a billboard.
Below are 10 Billboards that have definitely caught the eyes of many. Most of them get the word out about some of today’s most controversial topics while others are just plain wrong.

10.  Embarrassed Yet?

With every president often comes some sort of disapproval; actually, with any type of politician there is always opinions, both good and bad. And of course Barack Obama is no exception to this long standing way of political life. With so many opinions, two very different political parties, it’s no surprise that someone won’t hesitate to speak out against the president. Across the country there are plenty of people who don’t approve of Obama’s course of action but in Texas, a man named Ellis Miller decided to take it to the next step. To show his high disapproval of the direction of the health care bill, he decided to purchase a billboard that simply said: “Voted Obama? Embarrassed Yet?”
Miller thought that by putting the board up, more people would reconsider their votes and choose to not re-elect Obama in the next elections. He also wanted people to realize the actions Obama is taking and how his choice of words such as “spreading the wealth” could be a lean towards Socialism. Though this billboard definitely isn’t as bad as it can get, I’m not sure of many 69-year old men who would spend $500+ to express their presidential disapproval.

9.  My.  My Death.  My Choice

my life my death my choice
Blame Jack Kevorkian for this one! Another hot topic that is often debated in today’s world is assisted suicide and whether or not a person has the right to commit suicide when they see fit. The billboard has been posted in various locations including San Francisco, New Jersey, and Florida. It reads “My Life. My Death. My Choice.” and advertises a website entitled Final Exit Network. While the company only claims that they are getting word out that there are other options, such as suicide, when one is confronted with terminal illness, others say the billboard is just immoral. The fact that everyone no matter their age can see...Read More
‘Shockvertising’ has been defined as a particular form of communication designed with the attempt to awe and shock the target audience by using taboo subjects and emotion/thought provoking words and images. The issue with shockvertising is that what one person hails as brilliantly creative another sees as offensive and vice-versa. Here are ten of the most controversial print ads:

10. Nike – St. Rooney

St Rooney
Nike launched in 2006 a highly criticized ad campaign. One of the print ads depicts England’s best football player, Wayne Rooney, with the Cross of St. George painted on his chest.
Rooney fractured the base of his 4 th metatarsal before the 2006 World Cup finals, but he made a full recovery in time to play at the World Cup. Therefore, some notable British journalists claimed that Nike cynically portrayed Rooney part Woden, the Anglo-Saxon god of war, part the suffering but triumphant Christ . According to them, “ Nike has exploited him almost as blatantly as it is alleged to exploit its laborers in the Third World who make its costly footwear .”
Several religious groups complained to the Advertising Standards Authority within hours of the print ad being released. They said Nike’s ad was blasphemous and offensive to Christians because it trivialized Christ’s sufferings. Nike’s spokeswoman declared that they simply wanted to celebrate Rooney’s return to Manchester United, it had nothing to do with the crucifixion. Moreover, “the red paint is not meant to be blood, it’s just echoing the body paint which fans cover themselves in ,” she said.
Advertising Agency: Wieden+kennedy, United Kingdom
Creative Directors: Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth
Copywriters: Chris Groom, Stuart Harkness

9. Sisley – Fashioin Junkie

A group of advertising professionals produced in 2007 a pretty controversial ad, “Fashioin Junkie”. Although Sisley declared that the advertisement wasn’t authorized by the company and that they had nothing to do with the print ad, it remains suspicious on certain matters.
The word fashion was intentionally misspelled – fashioin – to make it rhyme a little bit with cocaine. The advertisement depicts two young women snorting cocaine. A white dress has been arranged to look like cocaine, but there’s also a white powder similar to cocaine on a  JPMorgan Chase card.
Portraying and promoting fashion addicts as drug addicts is totally inappropriate, but this is the goal of shockvertising, to blow it in our face and attract tons of attention  by any means.
Advertising Agency: Zoo Advertising, Shanghai, China
Creative Director: Alex Sean
Copywriter: Sandy Sang

8. Burger King – It’ll Blow Your Mind Away

bk ad
This suggestive Burger King ad leaves little to the imagination. Burger King ran a special promotion in Singapore for a limited edition of burgers: the Super Seven Inchers. Although it contains references to oral sex, the advertisement was not banned. Come on, let’s get real! Singapore banned the sale and import of...Read More

Ad Agencies
Here is a sample of top ad agencies (worldwide) based on revenue from recent years.
Ad Agency Sites
Who is the most creative? ::Who specializes in what area? ::Which would you most like to work for?