Practical Design Rules for an Effective Print Ad

Having an effective print ad isn’t only about the offer, but also the design elements. Learn more below.

If you’re looking to start a direct mail campaign, it’s important to not overlook the design. The design itself plays an equally important role when it comes to communicating your message. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but here are 7 tips to get you started on designing an effective print ad.

 

Content is Clear and to the Point

Whether you have someone in house writing your content, or you’ve outsourced a writer, it’s important to keep all messaging short and sweet, staying on track and right to the point.  If the message becomes too “wordy” or with run-on sentences, your message is not only lost, but the reader is left confused and tends to disregard your ad.  Not to mention grammar and spelling, always proofread and have someone else review your ad, you do not want to leave a poor impression of your brand from a simple error.

 

Use of Space

Businesses have a tendency to lean on maximizing their space. That means including more than what is necessary over the main message.  Overcrowding the design of an ad can feel cluttered or even chaotic.  In fact it’s encouraged to have white space on your ad that will not only improve a reader's focus, but the legibility of your content and brand recognition. 

 

Using Purposeful Headlines

Much like the creative design, headlines are just as important to having an effective ad.  Are you using keywords to draw customers in?  Is it peeking their interest to find out more about your business?  The more effective and attention grabbing your headline is, the greater chance of reaching prospective clients will be with this preliminary qualifier.

 

Less is More

While it’s fun to use lavish font types here and there, keeping it simple and legible is another way to maintain ease of reading.  You’ll notice large publications and newspapers stick to a clean font ensuring anything overly fancy is avoided so there is a smooth transition from one section to the next that will flow easily.

 

Use of Images

When everyone is in a rush from one thing to the next these days, your ad has a mere 8 seconds to grab a reader's attention.  This is why it is imperative that the use of images stay true to your product or service especially when trying to convey your message. If you cannot use original photos (for reasons of access to a photographer or the quality just isn’t there) use of appropriate and royalty free stock images is perfectly acceptable.  As long as the images aren’t far off from your brand. 

 

Stand Out from the Crowd

There is nothing worse or more frustrating as a customer than having an ad in their hands, ready to take action and they have no idea how to contact your business.  Even if this was an oversight of a missing phone number, email or website, if the customer cannot figure out how to get in touch, all efforts have been lost.  This is where you can really stand out from the crowd by utilizing your contact information in the best way possible. If you’re a take out business, only your phone number needs to be front and center, if you’re a brick and mortar, your address needs to be prominently displayed and if it’s a difficult location, adding a small map doesn’t hurt!

 

Strong Call to Action

When all is said and done, your ad needs the final hurrah, it’s a sense of urgency that is a strong call to action. Something that makes the customer want to act now and not miss out.  This can be in the form of a limited time offer, expiry date, or a special offer with the purchase of XYZ.  Afterall, this is a fundamental reason why you’ve created your direct mail campaign in the first place. 


When your business takes the time to properly execute and utilize these design rules, there’s power in just how effective it is for your brand awareness and essentially driving sales. Direct Response Media Group not only offers exceptional design services, but our Marketing Consultants can provide you with the solutions you need to get started, or refresh your campaign!  Contact us today if you’re ready to follow these rules!

 

 

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