Ads are like Icebergs – advertising hints

A few common mistakes in print advertising

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Do you assume that readers are ready to buy from you the minute they see your ad?


  • Do you forget to inform what you really do?
  • You may have an inadequate headline
  • A picture tells a thousand words
  • The eyes are the window of the soul

Responses are a bit like an iceberg – you get some straight away but by far the bulk of potential responses are not obvious at first. Why?

The bulk of readers –

  • are too timid to respond the first time they see the ad
  • want to see that you are not a ‘fly-by-night’ person and wait for another ad or another few ads until they are satisfied that you must be of integrity
  • have stuff happening in their lives and don’t have time or energy to respond now
  • cannot afford to spend money on themselves right now but they have a genuine interest to follow up later

We get heaps of advertisers reporting to us that people came to them two years after they advertised, as the ad had been cut out and put on the refrigerator. We also have lots of readers ringing here and asking about someone who advertised 6 or 12 months ago. They try to describe their ad to us. Sometimes it is obvious but not always.

Your ad needs to be there at least long enough to allow the ‘submerged’ people to bob up. That’s one reason why we offer such great discounts for multiples of 3 or 6 – 17.5% and 25% respectively.

Be sure to divide your advertising budget and don’t blow it all at once in just one ad. Yes, a lot of people want to test it out first, but the only way to really test it, to give the hidden majority time to move, is to at least try three. One ad insertion is not a test – it’s a gamble.

Do you forget to inform what you really do?

Just imagine you meet someone at a party and they ask you what you do. Would you simply give them a few nouns and leave it at that? No – even if you are at a party for people in your very niche, you still have a few adjectives to describe how you do that work. If you are really good at it, you might like to throw in a few superlatives too. If others think you are really good at it, then you might also quote a glowing testimonial. Plus, it might be appropriate to say how long you’ve been doing this and what your qualifications are.

Your ad should do some or all of this, depending on your budget.

You may have an inadequate headline

Common advertising wisdom says that you should spend 80% of your time devising the headline and only 20% on your body copy. The fact is that people are flagged down by the headline and the offer it makes to them – and so a WII FM (what’s in it for me) should be included.

Advertising gurus say that, if you can get people to stop and read the headline with interest, then they will take the trouble to read the body copy, as they feel that there is an answer there for them.

A picture tells a thousand words

Even more important nowadays than it used to be is a picture of some sort, seeing that everyone is so graphically attuned because of the internet. Don’t let them ‘mouse off’ your ad (literally or in their minds) because your picture is not eye-catching.

The eyes are the window of the soul

Better than any old picture is your own picture, especially if you are the service provider. People want to know that they can trust their bodies or psyches to your care.

Use your surname too

Why? People respond to advertising in a sort of layered way and you may get someone reading your name for a year and then their friend says they did a course or had a healing with Barbara Bloggs and the friend pricks up her ears cos she’s been reading it and thinking about it herself. However, if you just mention the first name, then the penny may not drop.

The readers will Google you

Again, think of what you do when someone introduces a new person, product or concept to you. Yep … Google it.

So don’t sit by the phone waiting for the responses that way. They will come through the internet to you. Apart from the annoying fact that you may not be able to trace the ad’s effectiveness, you need to spruce up what you have on the internet.

If your website is rather drab and only makeshift, then they will probably turn away and look elsewhere (and you will never know they looked for you as a result of reading your print ad).

Of course, when they read more online, they may find out that what you offer is not what they are looking for after all, and sadly, that cannot be helped.

Full ad hints available

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