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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

How to Create Print Ads that Get Results

Last week, FEI marketing whiz Marka concluded her discussion on SEO best practices. This week, Marka gives Zoot and Numo some tips on creating effective print ads. Remember, fire = print.

Zoot sat at his desk, ready to dive into a foot-long feta gyro. He grabbed the latest issue of Fire Buyer’s Weekly to read while eating. After flipping a few pages, a full-page ad stopped him cold. The ad featured a scowling...Fred Flintstone. Flintstone’s self-named company was one of FEI’s main competitors.

“Good Zeus,” Zoot muttered. “Marka!”

Marka happened to be passing by Zoot’s desk with her own lunch, an olive salad. “What’s up? You look annoyed.”

“I am,” Zoot said. “Look at this. Why does Flintstone have an ad in the fire industry’s most widely-read publication, and we don’t? Let’s get an ad out—now!”

“Hold on, Zoot,” Marka replied. “A targeted print ad can be an effective way to generate leads. But let’s think more about what we want to accomplish here—and no, ‘one-upping Flintstone’ is not an acceptable answer.”

Zoot rolled his eyes. “Well, let’s hear what you have to say.”

Marka started scribbling on the whiteboard next to Zoot’s desk.

Tip #1 for Excellent Print Ads - Set a clear, specific goal for the ad.

“Are we looking to promote a new service?” Marka asked. “Drive new users to an existing one? Increase general market awareness of FEI?”

“We’ve been around awhile, so I doubt we need help generating awareness of our company in Fire Buyer’s Weekly,” Zoot said.

“But we might need help generating awareness of a new product—our matches,” Marka suggested. “We’ve been the torches company for 40 years, and this is how the marketplace perceives us. Shaking this view, and showing prospects we’re more than just ‘the torch people’ takes an aggressive marketing approach. A print ad could be one component of this strategy.”
“Then, our ad’s goal should be ‘to generate more in profits from new match sales than the cost of the ad,’” Zoot remarked.

“In other words, to achieve ROI,” Marka clarified.

“I love it,” said the always bottom-line-focused Numo, who’d heard the conversation’s last snippet.

“Numo, you’re just in time for my second tip,” Marka said, then began writing again.

Tip #2 for Creating an Excellent Print Ad – Create a Killer Headline.

“According to marketing pioneer Org Ogilvy, on average, five times as many people read an ad’s headline as the body copy,” Marka explained. “Quite simply, the headline determines whether our prospects will read our ad or skip it. The ad’s image might get readers to stop for a second, but if the headline doesn’t offer them something they need, they’ll quickly move on.”

“How do we write a headline that gets attention?” Numo asked.

“Good headlines should follow the Four Us—urgent, useful, unique and ultra-specific,” Marka said. “We’ve covered the Four Us before; it’s an important lesson that any business owner can benefit from.”

Zoot rubbed his chin. “How about: ‘New Torches Can Help You Save 12 Percent on Your Next Heating Bill.’”

“Perfect.” Marka said, then turned to scribble more on the whiteboard.

Tip #3 for Creating an Excellent Print Ad – Imagery Should Support the Ad’s Message.

“Here’s the problem with Flintstone’s ad,” Marka asserted, flipping through Zoot’s issue of Fire Buyer’s Weekly. “His headline says: ‘Flintstone: We’re known for our warm and friendly service.’”

“Right,” Zoot said.

“But below, Flintstone’s mean old mug stares at you,” Marka continued. “Couldn’t they get a picture of him smiling? The image we choose for our ad must visually support the message sent by our copy.”

“How about a photo of a happy FEI customer?” Zoot suggested. “In one hand, he holds a torch. In the other hand, he holds a bundle of Drachmas—Drachmas he’s saved because of FEI’s torch-lighting solutions.”

“Love it,” Marka raved..

“I have a feeling you have a few more tips for great print ads up your sleeve,” Zoot said.

“Just like you have feta on yours,” Marka chided. 

Embarrassed, the fastidious Zoot wiped a piece of cheese off his toga sleeve.

Today’s FIRE! Point
Three tips for creating print ads that get results: set a clear, specific goal for the ad; create a killer headline; and make sure your ad’s imagery supports the overall message.

FIRE! in Action: Stanley Tools Uses Print Ads as Lead-Generation Tool

The tool company ran a series of two-page spread ads in nine trade magazines. The ads pulled in thousands of qualified sales leads.

Next week: Marka gives Zoot and Numo more tips for print ads that get results.

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