While digital advertising offers unique opportunities, many businesses can still benefit from print advertising. However, like all advertising mediums, strategic planning, creative direction, graphic design, copywriting, and placement need to be properly implemented to ensure that your print advertising campaign conveys the right message and is memorable.
Start with a plan on how to communicate your message.
While the overall look and feel is important, the strategy of how you communicate your messages should be the foundation for your campaign. First, determine what are the key points that you want to communicate. Then, decide how the campaign should evolve. Do you need an image campaign? Do you need to promote a specific offering? Often, the answer is that you need to do both brand building and sales. The pitfall to avoid is trying to do everything in one ad. That’s why developing a series of print ads that tell a story of highlight different products or services is a key best practice.
Use creative direction to provide the overall framework.
Creative direction isn’t just graphic design — it’s the creation of a template with all of major thematic elements of a campaign. With the strategy in place, the next phase requires careful consideration of your brand, target audience and messaging. It’s important to launch a campaign that is fresh, eye-catching and memorable, but that still reflects your brand identity. Some best practices to follow:
- Overall design should track from top left to bottom right (assuming the target audience reads from left to right)
- Visual elements are noticed first, so they should be engaging and encourage the viewer to read the ad
- Copyrighting should be tiered, with headlines, subheads and body copy
- For larger ad campaigns, focus groups can be used to project efficacy
There are many other best practices, but each depends on the type of ad campaign. For example, a company promoting technical products may have key features bullets using an interesting illustration as the hook. The same company could use a cerebral, high-level emotional message instead, that connects to the data without having to explicitly show it.
At the end of this phase, you should have a general theme with all design elements outlined. While copywriting may not be finished, samples headlines and a general style is usually captured.
Graphic design and copywriting help bring the series to life.
Now that you have invested the time in setting the plan and crafting a framework for the campaign, producing the actual print ads are less time consuming. Each print advertisement should have visuals, headlines, body copy and call to actions that are inline with the creative direction. While some changes to the template may be necessary as the actual ads are created, it is important to ensure complete cohesion between ads in the same campaign. This helps the reader to remember multiple ads.
Proper media planning helps you connect with your target audience.
Repetition is extremely important for retention. Just running a print ad once is rarely effective. That’s why media planning and placement is critical. It’s important to balance the size of the ad with the frequency of placement to ensure that your target audience sees elements of this ad campaign multiple times. We also typically recommend targeting fewer publications with higher frequency, rather than trying to cover too many outlets.
While there are many more best-practices, just following these guidelines can help your next print advertising campaign be more effective.
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