If you’re a small business advertising in print then there is a good chance that your ad is not very effective. I can say this, with confidence because I see this problem in a large majority of print ads in all of the local publications around me. I will also add that it’s not the fault of the publication either. Print is still a viable medium and in my area there are several magazines that are worth advertising in. For a lot of small businesses, it can be a very effective way to connect with a local audience.
The problem however, is what I like to call “Information Overload”. It’s trying to fit too many messages, either in copy or in photos, into one print ad. The next time you open a local magazine just have a look at any ad and you will see bullet points and paragraphs and what do you do? You look away, you move on, because your eye doesn’t know where to go and it’s simply confusing.
But I get it too, I know why you want to include a lot of text in your print ad, because no matter what size your ad is, it’s an investment and you want to feel like you’re getting all of the right information across. But there should be a limit to one message only. Yes one, and here’s why.
Here is what you need to know about print advertising:
Print works best as a support medium. By that I mean it should support other marketing material that will help convey more information. It should not be the piece with all of the information. Why? Because no one wants to look at it. Again, when you try to fill an ad with all the information it gets confusing and messy. It should assist in the repetition and recognition of all your advertising.
Media that is best to deliver information includes:
- Content Marketing
Your support media should act as a reminder to seek out more information at any of the above channels or by contacting you directly.
Media that is best to avoid information (All forms of support media) include:
- Print Advertising
- Digital banners
- Car Wrap
Why is it best to avoid too much information? Well think of a billboard for example. If you fly by a billboard on the side of the highway, you can’t possibly read a paragraph of text, a bunch of bullet points and even remember a phone number. These are all forms of support media because people are going to look at them quickly and they should be designed to be eye catching and simple. It’s the repetition and recognition of your brand and your message that will drive an audience to learn more about your products or services. Simplicity is the key to being noticed. In case you missed it, I do have a previous episode on the RnR of advertising that you should watch too.
Let’s look at some print ad examples:
I want to start by saying that I’m not trying to point the finger at anyone or make anyone look bad. But I did want to show exactly what I mean by information overload. And hey, anyone on these pages is getting free advertising so there you go. That being said, here are 2 different pages from Georgian life magazine which is a great local publication by the way.
Now looking at the example below, you can see that too much information becomes very busy and actually forces us to just avert our eyes. Even if they were on their own, almost every ad has just too much information. The only exception here, I would say is the Molly Maid ad at the top left. Have a look at that one. They have one message, dependable cleaning along with their brand and their contact. That’s all you need and you see that because they have included only one message, they have allowed enough space to make that headline really huge, relative to the other ads. It’s really the only thing that gets through on this page in my opinion so thumbs up to them.
Let me just show you what it looks like if you really took a chance and went with pure brand advertising. Now this is a bold move and not for everyone of course but look at what happens when we add this BFresh.Media ad right in the middle. Anyone flipping through Georgian Life would immediately be drawn to this brand ad because it’s clean, simple and there is a lot of white space.
So that was a drastic example, what if we included a message and contact, here’s how I might approach that. Again, it’s a really clean and simple design with lots of white space but we have one message, Graphic Design and our contact information which also doubles as the website url. But that’s it, and again, your eye is drawn to that because it is such a contrast to everything else.
Here is one of our clients who inspired this topic because we were looking at ways to make his half page ad (for Georgian Life) more effective and this was the result. We cut the messaging down to one message which is meant to be slightly vague. That’s because the mortgage business can be complicated and intimidating so we wanted to really make his personal brand and web page a key focus without overloading it with too much information. We wanted to convey professionalism and integrity in a simple and appealing design. The great thing about what Gerard is doing is that he is also writing articles in Georgian life that help fill in that information piece. So if someone happens to read is piece on reverse mortgages then this ad will support that through repetition and recognition and help drive sales.
When we spread out our marketing material into a good mix of those support media and information media, we can allow ourselves the ability to simplify our message and the result is advertising that people want to look at.
Finally, here is another example of a client ad that BFresh.Media not only designed but shot the photos as well. It is a good example of not adding too many photos either because the photos do add to the information component. But the purpose here is to inspire the viewer with beautiful photos and drive them to the website or to contact for more information.
When it comes to photos, advertisers often want to show as many as possible because the thought is how will people know what we do unless we show them? Well my answer is if you really want people to know then you’re going to have to run more ads. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It will certainly help with the repetition, and recognition.