How to Create a Good Print Advertisement that Sells


While there’s a lot of talk in the world of marketing about traditional and print media dying, there are still some valuable principles that print advertising can teach marketers and small business owners.

If you’re creating an advertisement in a magazine or newspaper here’s what you need to know to create a good advertisement that stands out.

Here are 6 Principles to Creating a Great Print Ad

1) Research and Know Your Audience

In order for your print advertisement to be good, you need to know more about your target audience than they do. Nothing will allow you to create better print ads than truly understanding what your audience is all about. Ultimately a good print advertisement should get people to buy your product or service right away, but that’s not always the case.

For new products or services, print advertisements are used to increase brand awareness, and may take about 6 or 7 times of viewing before a consumer tries a new product or service. However, the more you understand your target market, the more you can design a print ad that sells.

2)Decide on a Main element to Focus On

When creating print advertising, it’s important to decide what’s going to be the main element that’s going to make someone stop and look at your ad.

Generally the main element can be your headline, or the visual, but trying to give equal weight to several elements is not a good idea because it tends to scramble the brain. The brain likes clear directions.

When creating headlines, there are generally three types according to the book, “Tested Advertising Methods.”

a) Self Interest Headlines– These are headlines that list a benefit to the actual consumer.

b) News Headlines – These are generally the second best types of headlines. This would share some type of news.

c) Curiousity Headlines – This type of headline is design to get readers curious about your headline. This is best done when comabined with self interest or news. They are generally the third most effective headlines.


Here’s a good example of a print ad by De Beers that focuses heavily on using the headline as the dominant element.

The other dominant element that most print ads focus on is the visual aspect of the advertisement. Humans are very visual creatures, and great visual ads make us pay attention. If you don’t have a big budget to constantly bombard people with messages the way that banks generally do, then your visual concept is absolutely vital when it comes to getting people’s attention.

There are so many different ways to go about making a spectacular visual, but again, don’t choose too many elements in the visual to focus on. Ask yourself, where and what do you want your target audience to focus on at first.


3) Great Copywriting for the Body

The majority of print ads generally focus one on or the other of the above elements, but there is a chance that you may want to explain more about your product to customers and the body is a great chance to explain it further. The biggest mistake that a print advertiser can make is to list the features of their products or services, and not focus on the benefits.

Your first statement is the most important, this can be a form of a startling statement, a quotation, or a story to lure the reader in some more. The first paragraph should be a continuation of the headline and should state the most important benefit first.

It’s also important to write your body in the way that your target audience speaks. Using jargon isn’t a good way to go.

To add credibility to the print advertisement, feel free to use real testimonials from customers, or to use quotes from other trade publications or authoritative figures.

At the end of the copy, ensure you have a call to action so that your reader knows what the next step should be.

4) Come up with Several Ideas and be Patient

Creative ideas for print advertising, whether it’s the headline, the visual, or the body takes a lot of dedication and time. What may seem like a good idea at first, may not be the best idea the next day. And what seems like a really bad idea at first may be a brilliant idea the next day.

Taking the time to think about what your print advertising should be about is one of the hardest things. Professional advertisers will often write 50-200 headlines for one specific print advertisement before deciding on one. Choosing pictures that can convey benefits can take even longer, as design elements should incorporate the visual branding standards of your business.

5) Test Out Your Print Ad

What you see on a computer may not be the same as what you see in print. It’s always important to be able to see how the final product would look like your the specific mediums you choose to have the advertisement printed on. A coloured newspaper ad will look much more differently than in high quality print magazine like Rolling Stone.

What do you believe makes a great print ad?

For more information on how to create a great ad for your business, contact MCNG Marketing.

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Written by Vincent NG

I’m a social media marketer, particularly for Pinterest, It all started back in 2010 when Pinterest was in beta. It was the fastest independent website to get 10 million unique visitors in the U.S. This really struck a chord with me, and it was then that I knew that Pinterest was going to be a powerhouse in the world of digital and social media marketing.