How To Make An Ad That Actually Works

This is not the striptease approach to making an ad.

You won’t be drooling and howling. Developing a proper advertisement has to have a template-a map-to bring your quality up to snuff. Failure is likely if you skip these steps. Lets briefly define the sections of the job:

Target Audience
Who are you actually speaking to? The early adapter, or the meat of the market? The low-hanging fruit or the skeptics? What is their age, gender, income and self-image? Shotgun a highly-targeted ad can deliver more bang for your buck.

Are you trying to sell a particular product or promote a whole brand? Should the reader go to your store, visit your website or call NOW? At the very least, create an association between your business and something your audience values. An example would be a tired person working late and an energy drink. 

Primary Message
There is a rule that if you tell a person three things, they will remember none of them. What’s the takeaway for the listener? State your message as one plain, complete sentence, such as “PF Flyers will make you run faster.” You are allowed to have other messages in your ad, but they will be a supporting cast. You should only have one main character. It creates a picture that is easy to understand quickly.

Supporting details
Back up the primary message with facts or claims, such as “PF Flyers are twice as light as the regular brand which are proven to help the long term health of your feet.” Be honest and don’t fib.

Creative approach
This is the fun part. It is also the most difficult. What visuals and headlines will work together to grab your audience by the lapels, knock them out of their chair and send a message that’s surprising, amusing, touching or stimulating? Showing PF Flyers make you better, you might show someone experiencing the opposite side of the coin—a sorry kid left behind by his inferior knockoff shoes that demonstrates what he has on will never compare. Or you might exaggerate the benefit with a kid that runs like the Flash when racing another kid. Embellishing the point with something unrealistic visually makes the concept easy to understand and sticks in the head of the viewer.

Decision Time
Make a decision on the dimensions and colors of your ad placement. Keep in mind that any ad smaller than a full-page will compete with everything else on the page.  Establish a visual hierarchy of information. And remember, space is your friend. Whatever the size, don’t cram too much in. It helps everything else do its job.

There are a lot of things to create here: brief, concept, headline, body copy, layout, initial proofs and the final file. Create a schedule by working backward from your deadline, allowing ample time at each step for review and feedback. A missed deadline can throw everything off. No matter what, have a smart person or two proofread it before it goes out the door. ONE typo or misspelling will haunt you til you die and no one will ever forget it.