With print magazines and newspapers in serious decline, it’s easy to say that B2B print advertising no longer works. I beg to differ. I firmly believe that print advertising does work (and that people still read print, but that’s a different story). The reason people mistakenly believe that print advertising doesn’t work is because many B2B marketers / small business owners don’t know how to create print ads that drive leads.
Creating print ads that deliver a real return on investment isn’t difficult or expensive. It just takes a little know-how. Herewith, 10 tips you can use to increase B2B print ad ROI.
1. Develop a direct response ad versus an image ad — A direct response ad tells people what to do. If it’s done right, it also lets you track response.
When you look at a typical consumer image ad (re: Apple, Coke, or some other consumer product), you see a beautiful picture of the product and maybe some copy. An image ad differs from a direct response ad as it reinforces brand awareness. A direct response ad drives leads because it includes benefits-rich copy and a call to action (think TV infomercials). “Download our free report.” “Call today and request your free sample.”
2. Focus on what your prospects want — The best networkers know to keep the focus on the people they meet at face-to-face events and not on themselves. (Do this and you’ll gain a reputation as a great listener.)
It works the same for your ad copy. Instead of focusing on your company and how it’s an industry leader, focus on the challenges your target audience is experiencing and how you can help solve them.
3. Eliminate “we,” add more “you / your” — “We” is a very weak pronoun, as my good friend Tom Ahern says. Fill your copy with “you” and it will naturally be easier to focus on your target audience and their needs.
4. Send readers to a specific landing page — Want to waste a boatload of money? Create a print ad and include a URL that goes back to your home page. How in the hell do you track that? You don’t. Instead, create a specific landing page where people can go to get your offer and then track how many people visit and how many fill out the form. Tweak accordingly.
5. Create a great offer — Give people something of value: a new white paper, a report detailing survey findings, free samples, or a half-hour consultation. Make sure the URL directs people to this exact offer versus sending them to a page listing all of your white papers and reports and then make them hunt for the offer listed in your ad.
6. Put a benefit in your headline — Capture people’s attention by putting a benefit in your headline. Stay away from play on words or anything that will make people scratch their heads.
7. Include a testimonial — If possible, include a pithy testimonial from a big name client. Also consider dropping a couple of client names in the copy (i.e. “Product XYZ, used by Big Name and Big Name . . . “).
8. Include your phone number and email — Make it easy for people to contact you by including all relevant contact info including a phone number and email. Don’t hide this information in a 4-point grey font at the bottom of the ad.
9. Don’t use reversed out type — The biggest mistake I see people making, when it comes to print ads, is using reversed out white text on a tinted or colored background. This type of formatting was proven by Colin Wheildon and others to reduce reader comprehension. To ensure your ad gets read, stick with black type (in an easy to read font size) on a white background.
10. Don’t use stock imagery — Before the advent of sites such as iStockPhoto, we in MarCom would spend a great deal of time taking original photographs of products for ads, brochures, and press releases. The good thing about this process is that you had photographs that were used only by your company.
With the advent of stock photography, which is wonderful — and yes, inexpensive — you see the same people / photos *everywhere.* Spend some money and have original photography taken. The result is imaging and branding that is uniquely your own.
For additional tips, see my article, “Effective Print Ads: Tools to Increase Sales.” And, to see an actual B2B ad that’s getting phone calls, see the ad I created for Inca Gold Products, LLC (design by Sonora DesignWorks). Do you have additional tips? Post them below.