It’s always surprising to us to see so much advertising, especially in print, which does not work. It simply doesn’t contain the ingredients needed to successfully communicate with customers.
If you make a cake, you don’t leave out any ingredients—right? Then why leave out an important part of your advertising message?

With a small budget and not a lot of space, many people run so called “business card” ads. The ad consists of the same elements that are on a typical business card: business name (usually a logo), your name, telephone numbers, and address, email address and website. Sometimes a catchy slogan too!

But where’s the offer? Where’s the call-to-action? Business card ads simply don’t do anything but take up space.

Think of your ad as a “salesperson in print.” What would happen if your salesperson dropped by a prospect and said, “Hi, I’m Ned from the ABC Company. Here’s my phone number and address. Hope you call sometime. Bye!”

Would that work? Nope, and it’s the same with ads.

If you want your ad to get results it must contain six key elements.  Here’s the recipe:

1. Make it crystal clear who you are talking to, e.g. “small business owners” or “sports enthusiasts” or “golfers” or whoever your prime target group is—get their attention by putting this at the top of the ad.

2. Use emotionally strong words to outline a concern, need or frustration this group has that your product or service satisfies, e.g. “Tired of staying up late doing your bookkeeping?” or “Are you worried about data loss, security, viruses, and keeping your network safe from hackers?”

3. Offer a solution. “Our easy-to-use bookkeeping system lets you keep track of your business without losing sleep.” Or “We can analyze your computer network, diagnose any problems you are currently having, and look for hidden problems.”

4. Offer something they can get free that doesn’t present a risk. “Visit our web site” for a downloadable sample, a report, or tips and tricks. “Drop by the store for your free whatsit.” “Call me by five pm on Friday if you want your very own free whatever.” “Get our free computer system audit.”

5. Sign the message with your contact info—your name, phone, fax, email and web address, and, of course, your logo and tagline.

6. Have you got a good picture? Include a product shot, or a picture showing the situation prospects are facing because they do not have your product or service. Here’s a secret: often the most powerful picture is one of you! Now readers can put a face on your company.

There, that was easy wasn’t it?

Next time you are putting an ad together, in a place where you are sure your Ideal Clients hang out, you will communicate far more effectively than you’ve ever done, and yes, the phone will ring.

Elizabeth Walker and Ken BurginElizabeth Walker and Ken Burgin

Ken Burgin and Elizabeth Walker are the Marketing Masters, a full-service marketing and advertising partnership that helps build busy businesses.