How to Create Print Ads That Drive More Sales

Contrary to hyperbole from some corners of the digital marketing community, print advertising is not dead. Although traditional magazines and print media have seen a decline over the past decade, the print industry has continued to flourish as one of the most effective marketing strategies available to small businesses. As such, print ad design and execution remains an important part of any creative marketing campaign. In fact, recent market research conducted by Penn State University has shown that consumers not only respond more frequently to print advertising, they also tend to trust it more than online ads.    print ad design header  

What are the Benefits of Print Advertising?

Small businesses seeking to grow their business in their local market should be leveraging the power of print advertising. Many small businesses struggle with the investment. They prefer instead to turn to online marketing, which is considered cheaper and less time-consuming to set into motion. However, an effective print marketing campaign has the potential to deliver far higher returns than online marketing.  Here are some of the benefits of print advertising, as explained by Sabline Carbaugh, COO of Golden Mailer and Web Marketing of San Francisco:
  • Direct mail has the highest rate of success in new customer acquisition at 34% compared with other marketing channels.
  • On average, an investment of $1 in direct marketing ad expenditures is predicted to return, on average, $12.18 in incremental revenue across all industries.
  • Direct Marketing produced $2.05 trillion in sales in 2012 – representing roughly 8.7% of the US GDP.
  • 79% of consumers will act on direct mail ads immediately compared to only 45% who say they deal with email ad campaigns straight away.
  • Direct mail ads still reign supreme, offering response rates of 1.1 to 1.4% versus 0.03% for email, 0.04% for Internet display ads, and 0.22% for paid search.
  What may surprise small business owners already invested in online marketing to know is that print advertising can also help bolster online marketing results. Don Potochny, an SEO and online marketing specialist for SF Gate, explains: “We do not recommend choosing one advertising medium over another advertising medium. In fact, we believe print advertising makes online advertising much more effective. Although online marketing costs less than getting the word out about your brand in print, digital marketing should represent one piece of your advertising puzzle. In many cases, online marketing sets the table for print advertising to close the deal. Savvy business owners know that implementing both digital and print advertising campaigns produces higher customer conversion rates.”   Influencer Channels  

How to Improve Your Print Ad Design to Drive More Sales

For print ads to be effective, it is critical that the design of the ads include a specific set of elements known to drive more conversions. Online marketing allows small businesses to get away with a little less work on the creative side, whereas print requires diligent, meticulous attention. Print ad design is often the difference between success and failure. Next, we'll look at some of the ingredients needed to run a successful print campaign.  

Have a Clear and Concise Message

As the old saying goes, “a confused mind always says no.” Consumers will not act on advertising they do not understand. While small business owners know their business and know it well, sometimes their proximity to their work prevents them from crafting a message that speaks to consumers who don't know anything about what they do. One of the most effective strategies to ensure the messaging destined for print makes sense to fresh eyes is to have new eyes take a look before sending an ad to print. So long as the message is short, to the point, and makes complete sense to someone who is not familiar with your product or service, the ad will work.   

Use Professional, Updated Branding

If your logo looks like it time-traveled to present day from the 1990’s, consumers will likely shy away from what you have to offer. The effort and attention a business puts into its brand show clearly through the final product. An outdated or unprofessional logo is a major red flag for most consumers. Your niece in design school probably won’t make you the logo that will win over new customers. Therefore, it is essential to seek out professional help to create an appealing, professional logo, as well as set brand guidelines for maintaining brand consistency.  

Keep the Colors Consistent

Part of creating a compelling message and promoting a professional brand is to maintain strict consistency with the colors you choose. Every print campaign should follow a similar color palette that supports your brand guidelines. It may be tempting to create something entirely new and creative for your print campaign, but if it doesn’t match your brand on the color spectrum, it could confuse consumers. Keep colors simple and consistent to ensure your brand shines through and appeals to more consumers.  

Use a Memorable Phone Number

A clear call-to-action drive responses. However, not all calls-to-action are created equal. Domains and links require consumers to visit your website, read through content, and take another action somewhere else. In contrast, a phone number is a direct link between the consumer and your business. Phone call leads close 10x more often than any other type of lead, which means your call-to-action should be to have consumers call you. Businesses who use memorable phone numbers (i.e., a phone number that spells a word or phrase) boost their response rates by an average of 40% compared with a ten-digit phone number. It’s a simple tool that is easy to deploy and requires no additional training of staff to incorporate. More importantly, a custom number has the potential to nearly double the number of phone calls to your business. Adding a memorable phone number is an obvious choice to help increase the response rates to your print ads and grow your business.   [search-tag]  

Use an Eye-catching Font (Within Reason!)

Maintaining a consistent brand may be important, but it is equally important to catch a consumer’s eye. Boring, standard fonts will do nothing to enhance your message. Conversely, outrageously loud fonts may also drive away consumers. Choose a font for your marketing that is both eye-catching and not too outrageously loud. Avoid all-capital fonts, cartoonish fonts, and other fonts that take away from the professionalism of the ad, but also avoid stock fonts such as Arial and Helvetica to prevent falling flat in your design.   

Ensure Your Images are Print-friendly

Photos that look amazing on your computer may not seem so beautiful when printed. Many marketers have made the mistake of using images that looked amazing in digital format, but turned out dark and faded on the actual printed ads. There are a few ways to ensure your pictures will turn out great in print. First, make sure the images in question have a minimum resolution of 300DPI. Second — and this is important — test the ad before ordering. If ordering online, have a sample sent to you; if ordering from a shop, have them print an example. Adjust the image as needed to ensure it prints well.  

Incorporate a Clear CTA

In online marketing, a CTA (call-to-action) can be as simple as a clickable button. Print ads do not have this luxury, and so it is crucial to incorporate a call-to-action that encourages consumers to respond to the ad. First, decide which kind of action you want consumers to take. These can range from calling a phone number to visiting a website. Next, ensure the call-to-action is front-and-center of the ad, eye-catching, and absolutely clear. The key to a successful ad campaign is to drive action on behalf of the consumer. Failure to create a clear call-to-action will result in a lackluster performance of your advertising campaign.    

Create More Value

Consumers will not take action unless one of two criteria are satisfied by your ad. Those criteria are:
  • The consumer has an immediate need for your product or service at the time they see your ad.
  • You create an incentive for them to respond to your ad and offer them a reward for answering.
The first criterium is up to blind luck. The second is something you can control, and which can result in far higher response rates to your print ads. Incentives can take many forms, including giveaway promotions, free trials, and sweepstakes. What is essential is to create more value for the consumer than your usual proposition. Consumers will respond more to ads that promise to give them something of value up front for their time, without expressly pushing the product or service. To create a more effective print ad, consider creating more value through a promotional incentive.  

The Takeaway

Print advertising is still alive and well in the age of digital marketing. In fact, it’s thriving. As a small business owner, it is essential to utilize all the tools available to you to promote your business, including print. Print ads create higher returns, earn more trust among consumers, and give you the ability to target individual demographics better. While the benefits are apparent, it is also vital to create print ads that convert consumers into paying customers. Outstanding print ad design is crucial to a successful campaign. Delivering a professional, consistent brand experience and using memorable colors and contact details will improve your ads and drive more responses from potential customers.  

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