The “how to” of creating a great advertisement

By Jeffery Hoyle

Emphasis Marketing & Communications


As the dog days of summer approach, it is time to get serious about reaching that end-of-the-year goal. Now is the time to plan your big push to a successful 2010, and one of the components to help you achieve that goal is good advertising. You may not feel that you need, or can afford to spend for advertising. But in the long run, advertising to your target market can rev up your client base. Plus, it’s better to have clients clamoring for your services than scrambling to fill in a last-minute deficit in your year-end projection. A good ad can make the difference between ending the year in the black or the red.

So, now is when we revisit what makes a good advertisement. To appeal to your target market, there must be a clear, dramatic benefit that inspires a call-to-action for your consumer. By no means should you use fear or intimidation to spur your client to respond. Rather, use of the written word, coupled with passion and energy, should be all the impetus your client needs to want to respond. This is the type of ad that can help your business stand out over your competition.

There are five key components that should be considered when drafting a successful advertisement. Whether you’re using print media, online advertising, a newspaper ad or an insert, keeping these steps in mind will help ensure that your ad will appeal to the masses. Remember, planting the seed in the consumer’s brain is the ultimate goal of an advertisement.

No. 1: Well-targeted
A well-targeted ad is one that motivates your target audience. If your demographic is retirees, an advertisement featuring dogs frolicking in the park is not the message you need to convey. You have to think like you are the consumer you are trying to approach. Try this trick: Create a character, if you will. When writing copy for a newsletter client, I create an individual in the target market to whom I want to tell my story. Typically I write to a 72-year-old retired businessman, who is widowed, has children and grandchildren, loves to travel and leads a fairly active lifestyle. The same approach can help you better convey your message to your target market. This leads to our next component.

No.2: Speak to your audience
When you understand your target audience, you can use language that speaks directly to that audience. As mentioned above, getting inside of the mind of your consumer can help you exponentially. Learn their language, and then speak that language in your ads. Retirees, while much more technically savvy today than 20 years ago, probably don’t understand a lot of the “technical” vernacular associated with online advertising. The KISS method, while old fashioned, is still a great approach.

No. 3: Illustrate clear, but dramatic benefits
We’ve already established how to identify your target audience and how to speak to that target audience. Now, we need to articulate that message in an effective way. As tough as it can be to express strong, creative benefits in the text of an advertisement, it can be done effectively with some thought. Your ad copy should invigorate your target to respond. Be clear in what the benefit of contacting you will be: greater return, tax protection, longer stream of income, or whatever it may be. Express what you offer that others in the profession do not.

No. 4: Succinct headline or tag line
A well-worded tag or headline is the key to reaching your target audience from the beginning. As we already mentioned, catching the attention of the consumer is the whole goal of your advertisement. As a species, we are visual by nature; that is what we notice first. Countless studies have been done to support this idea, and in most cases, they have proven we are much more likely to remember what we see than what we have heard. A keyword, like an image, can act as a trigger to the conscious thought of your target audience; and all it takes is one. The rest will follow.

No. 5: Simply state your offer
You work in a highly competitive marketplace. Am I stating the obvious? Perhaps. But it's worth mentioning again, because when it comes to advertising, your whole objective is to raise your appeal above that of your competitors. This is where you dazzle your target market. Your advertisement should distinguish you and your business from your competitors, but your expertise and knowledge may not be enough to seal the deal. You may need to up the ante by offering a service or product. Give a free financial assessment with no obligation. Secure an appointment, and offer access to a special calculation tool on your website. Send a free brochure outlining the steps to financial planning. One thing each of these examples has in common is the word "free." Everyone wants something for nothing. In this case, you have instead given them something for something.

So, there you have it. These are the basics of creating a successful print or online advertisement. By following these simple steps, you can build a much larger client base. Of course, you can always solicit the help of an advertising professional (hint, hint) if you find yourself in need of assistance. Either way, if you advertise, your target market will come knocking at your door.