Print Advertising: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

In print advertising, artwork is the initial impression that consumers have of your business or product. It’s the first step in gaining the attention of the buyer you are trying to sell to. That visual typically is the difference between if the person decides to pay attention to the pieces of your advertising- the verbiage, the product or service itself, and the offer, or moves along to what captures their attention next.

Almost every day I have conversations with business owners and decision makers who ask about how their artwork should look. It’s an important question and comes up so often because many people just aren’t sure how to go about it. Most people (including me) know what they like when they see it but don’t know how to express that verbally or artistically. That’s ok though, and the reason why my company employs very talented and artistic designers. I trust them implicitly because they’ve proven their professionalism with our clients consistently through the years. And they’re not just artists, they know what works and what consumers like.

With that being said, I have learned from many years of experience the difference between good and bad artwork:

 

Good

– Simple clear message

– Holds interest

– Stong call to action

 

Bad

– Requires the reader to work hard

– Missing attention-getting elements

– Can’t tell what you are really trying to offer

 

Ugly

– Full of clutter

– Low-quality images

– Overuse of color and fonts

(Graphic Designers nightmare)

 

Avoid the temptation to include every product or service line you offer in your ad. Don’t make the prospect have to think about or evaluate everything and the kitchen sink you threw in there. They don’t want to think and they’ll ultimately move past your ad and forget all about you. Tell your prospect we are Acme Company, we make your life better, and do it for 40% off. That’s it.

If you’re worried about leaving out something you think might be important then include your website address. If the prospect wants or needs more information they will gladly take the time to visit your website and learn more about everything you do and why it’s important to them. Your website is your encyclopedia, your print advertisement is not.

 

Contributed by Jeff Vice

Believe in Your Sell!

All throughout college I knew that I would want to be in sales, but a big question kept popping up: What do I want to sell?

I learned about sales through both my coursework and personal experiences as well, which led me to believe that sales can be easy. People are actually selling every day – even those who aren’t working in a typical “sales” position. Remember the time you went to a restaurant & couldn’t make a decision on what to order? Maybe you asked the server for a recommendation, and she gushed about a particular dish they serve, or insisted you try the chef’s special. That’s selling! They are persuading you to purchase a specific dish – and you will most likely try what she recommends because it’s clear that she believes that item is the best on the menu.

shutterstock_83071957

“Aren’t you glad you listened to me? Of course you are. I’m awesome.”

Imagine, on the other hand, your server shrugs & says, “Well, I guess the chef’s special is pretty good,” or gives some other lukewarm non-answer devoid of excitement or fervor. You probably wouldn’t be as inclined to trust her recommendation. She doesn’t seem to think that dish is good – does she like anything the restaurant serves? Maybe you should have gone somewhere else for dinner…

I knew that I didn’t want to be like the 2nd server, who seems unsure of the menu & doesn’t appear to believe in what she is selling. I knew that I wouldn’t be happy in sales unless I could sell something I believe in – something that gets me excited to sell. Studies constantly show that happy employees are more productive employees, and productivity is everything in sales, so this requirement seemed obvious and essential. It would be the best way for me to be productive & happy while successfully serving my clients. Not to mention, confidence is a strong indicator of whether or not someone succeed in sales, and I knew I couldn’t be confident were I to settle for selling something I didn’t believe in. I couldn’t even fathom the idea morally. I wouldn’t want to sell a product or service to clients that I wouldn’t feel comfortable buying myself – they won’t be happy because I’ve ultimately wasted their time and money, not to mention betrayed the trust they placed in me. At the end of the day, I want to feel good about myself and my work.

Although I had no intentions of selling advertising, I am very fortunate to have found RSVP. Even though I am new and still learning new things, I can honestly say that RSVP gets me excited to sell, and I enjoy telling people about our company and what we do to help small businesses. I admittedly even get a little frustrated when a prospect doesn’t want to listen or learn about what RSVP can offer  – but that is just because I know that I can provide him or her with a vehicle to increase revenue and generate solid, qualified business for their company. I sincerely want to help these business owners, and I am certain that the best way for me to do so is through helping them advertise with RSVP. I am confident in our service and excited to continue my journey here – always learning & growing – and I want to pass this excitement on to prospects (and eventually, clients) as I invite them to join RSVP’s publications & take their businesses to the next level!


Contributed by Travis Haren.
IMG_5485

 

Say What? Part 1

This is a three part series from a designer’s point of view as it relates to artwork questions, processes and overall curiosities. 

They say, “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words” but is that picture really worth a $3,000 fine?

One of the most common questions I hear in the design world is “Can you use this image I found on Google?” The answer is no. Just because an image is on the internet, it doesn’t mean the image is free to use. You still need the correct license to use it. There is a difference between an stockpicimage being online and an image being public domain.
Copyright infringement can result in lawsuits and costly legal fees.

 New technology now enables copyright owners to easily identify unlicensed imagery and act to protect their rights. One of the safest and best options is to purchase stock photos where you can find a wide variety of photos for your specific needs.

Stock images break down into two types, royalty-free and rights-managed. Royalty-free images, you get nearly unlimited use. Rights-managed images, your right to use the image is typically restricted, with limitations placed on things such as duration of use, geographic region, industry, etc., as established by your license agreement.

Keep an eye out for the next two most common questions in the coming weeks!

Caitlin

More is not better, but too little is worse!

A Lesson from Goldilocks and the Three Bears…

GL&3Bears

As I have talked to business owners over the last 14 years who have adopted a do-it-yourself mentality to marketing their business, I have often heard, “My mailing campaign didn’t work!”  What I often find from them is that they have done their own mailing campaign of 100 or 200 mailers of some type, to a list of prospective homeowners that they’ve narrowly targeted, based on the direction of a friend, family member, or “marketing expert” at their networking group.  They’re surprised that they get no response, or one or two lukewarm prospects.

The reality is that zero, one or two responses from a mailing of say 200 homeowners, is not actually bad at all, it’s just not enough.  How does that make any sense?  In fact it’s quite excellent for a cold campaign at 1% response rate.  The problem is expectations.  One or two lead calls for a home improvement company is not enough to keep a sales staff gainfully employed, and cash flow healthy.  10 or 20 leads would be more like it – right?  50 qualified leads even better!

Most direct response fails I believe, because business owners find the least expensive Cost per Thousand Impressions (CPM) advertising vehicles and blast their message out to mailboxes attached to dwellings of all types.  The result is lots of “activity” and a disproportionately low level of sales for the activity expended.

Worse yet, with all the sophisticated demographic, psychographic, and geographic targeting techniques – some businesses take the extreme opposite approach by disqualifying too many good prospects and focusing too narrowly on a list that has no chance of being successful, based on too many assumptions.

Well what if there was a way to target your entire population of qualified and select prospective homeowners (The Mass Affluent) and received full service marketing consulting and design based on years of experience and proven track record… and laser-focus that message into the home for one-tenth the cost of a postage stamp?

What I have found is that if we mail 1000 times the circulation of the earlier example, at one-tenth the cost, but mail that to the Mass Affluent Homeowners, we get the desired result our business owners are looking for.  They get qualified leads, enough to be impressed, that close at a high percentage, and have a strong ticket average.  The result is a strong Return on Investment (ROI) for the advertiser, with laser-focused effort, and a fraction of the sales staff!

More is not better, but too little is worse!

 

Contributed by Anthony R. Sucato,

Retired Engineer

President RSVP Publications of Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio

“Direct Marketing to the Affluent”

Tony

Thoughts from a graphic designer….

WhatTheFont

 

What is a font?

A font is the collection of characters.

 

What is a typeface?

The design for a set of characters.

 

A typeface is not font. A font is not a typeface.

 

Confused yet?

 

The term font is often used as a synonym for typefaces, which is not technically correct. For most people who are not in the design world, they only think of about fonts when choosing one in Microsoft Word. The two terms frequently cause some confusion to those unfamiliar with the difference.

 

Typeface = a type family’s design

Think of a typeface as a set of characters of the same design. A typeface is the ‘design’ of the design of the alphabet, the shape of the letters that make up the typestyle. Typefaces describe the overall look of the characters.

 

Font = one member of a type family

A font, on the other hand, is traditionally defined as a complete character set within a typeface, often of a particular size and style. Fonts are also specific computer files that contain all the characters and glyphs within a typeface.

 

A typeface is like a jukebox while font is the tunes inside.

 

ITC Bodoni

 

Contributed by Caitlin Tuohy.
Caitlin

Goal Setting for Home, Life & Work

What impact can goal setting have on your business and your life this year?

A year ago we tasked our staff with not only setting business goals but also share something at our first staff meeting of the year that they’re shooting for in their personal life.  We followed the SMART formula:  SMARTgoals

The goals were varied – some focused on weight loss, financial success, household projects, getting your first place, and even making and honoring time commitments with family. The experience of sharing weekly updates on progress has been eye-opening.  To speak that goal out loud each week and be accountable to taking one step closer to that goal led many to accomplishing their mission.

For 2014 we introduced our “personal best boards.”  It’s a simple two-sided acrylic picture frame.  On the front are our business benchmarks and stretch goals.  On the back is visual representation of our individual goals – usually a collage of related or motivational pictures.

I’m so proud on the progress of our team!!! Just four months into the year many have accomplished their first goal and had to create a new goal for 2014.  We have a fitter, happier success focused staff.  They encourage and praise one another, and even look for opportunities to help them accomplish their personal goals.

“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.” –Andrew Carnegie

Experts will tell you to speak your goal out loud like a mantra.  Visualize yourself completing your goal and how you will feel.  Walking a mile begins with putting 1 foot in front of the other…

Reaching the goal is a combination of small but important steps.  Be honest with yourself.  Are your goals written down? Are they just dreams or do they have deadlines? What actions are you taking today to make this your best year yet?

Contributed by Heather Craaybeek.

Heather

What Can We Learn About Advertising From March Madness?

MarchMadness

This time of year much of the programming on television is dedicated to March Madness.  For about six weeks in March and April the content of hundreds of college basketball games fill the schedules of multiple networks.

If you are watching many of these games surely you noticed there are a ton of advertisements.  In a college game there are a minimum of eight television timeouts, in addition to the five timeouts each team has available to them in every game.  Because of all these timeouts it’s no doubt that you could easily name more than five brands that are continuously being promoted during all these breaks.  Obviously there is a lot of value to putting those brands in March Madness to make sure you recognize them.

March Madness is an event.  That event is what brings the viewers, which brings the advertisers.  It’s the event that makes it extraordinarily easy for the advertisers to get the most viewers in the smallest amount of time and space.

Unlike a handful of advertisers, the vast majority of businesses can’t afford the prices charged for advertising during an event such as March Madness.  If your business can’t afford those prices, does that mean you are out of luck, or should you create your own “event” instead?

Actually, neither.

Fortunately, your business can benefit from built-in “events” throughout the year that don’t have outrageous advertising rates attached to them.  One such “event” has to do with the change of seasons throughout the year.

Take advantage of the change of the seasons.  Consumers almost instinctively adjust their buying habits on a seasonal basis.  Consumers are active during seasonal changes and you can make money from this by asking for their business at these specific times.  One of the biggest benefits of the change of seasons “event” is that you don’t have to pay a premium to participate.  There’s no extra fee or producer of the event to charge outrageous advertising fees.  Get active promotionally during these times and adjust your offerings according to the seasons.  Even if you don’t have a seasonal product or service, it doesn’t matter.  You can always adjust pricing or add-ons in order to make your offerings more attractive and valuable to consumers when they might not have otherwise been thinking of you.

Keep this in mind though, if you don’t get proactive about marketing your products and services at key times of the year, someone else will.  Who do you think would earn that business?

Contributed by Jeff Vice.

Schmaltzy As A Work of Art

Annie L

Thinking about photography in advertising, I immediately thought of Annie Liebovitz, one of my favorite portrait photographers. Considered one of the most talented commercial photographers of today, she is most known for her Rolling Stone Magazine Portraits of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, actresses Meryl Streep, Whoopi Goldberg, and Demi Moore as well as so many other covers that were photographed while working for the Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair magazines.

In 2007 Liebovitz started the Disney Dream Portrait ad campaign to promote Disney Parks’ “Year of a Million Dreams“. This series took noteworthy celebrities and turned them into Disney Characters giving the audience a sense of familiarity but also creating a whimsical and imaginative ad to attract Disney fans of all ages. Just to name a few that you might remember seeing: actor Russell Brand as Captain Hook, singer Jennifer Hudson as Tiana from the Frog and the Prince, and actors Will Ferrell, Jack Black and Jason Segel as Phineas, Ezra and Gus from the Haunted Mansion attraction at the Disney Park.

Annie L (2)

To critique the photographer, in 2011 The Huffington Post is quoted saying, “Though the photos can be a bit, shall we say, schmaltzy, they are still works of art as advertising.”  Personally I would say when it comes to advertising sometimes the schmaltzier the better! From what I’ve learned “schmaltzy” isn’t necessarily a bad thing in the world of advertising. The Disney Dream Portrait Ad has been in publication for years and is still successfully being publicized today. Keep that in mind as you’re coming up with your own advertising ideas. Give them something they will remember! We’re always thinking of imaginative ways to represent RSVP and to advertise your business.

As Annie Leibovitz has said in the past, “my hope is that we continue to nurture the places that we love, but that we also look outside our immediate worlds.”

You can check out Liebovitz’s latest installment of the campaign, taken of one of the newest Disney movies, Brave, with Actress Jessica Chastain here.

Annie L (3)

Contributed by Crista Kling.

A Marketing Budget Is A Terrible Thing to Waste: Part 3

Posted by Renee Pugh and Jeff Vice

A Marketing Budget is a Terrible Thing to Waste: a Three-Part Series That Will Save You Money – Part Three

Welcome to the final post of our three-part series on how to STOP wasting your marketing money on ineffective advertising. We started by introducing the idea of the cluttered “kitchen sink” ad, and explained why this ad is not conducive to driving business; then we moved on to the bare “minimalist” ad and why it may not bring business your way. Today we finish up by helping you advertise like the Godfather. Remember the premise we started with:

An advertisement should do at least two things: educate your prospects about what you sell/do, and move them to do business with you.

Sealing the Deal Like the Godfather: How to Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse

Business owners commonly associate “offer” with “discount,” and are understandably reluctant to discount their products and services. You have invested significant amounts of time, money, and care into developing your business; discounting what you sell can feel like discounting your hard work – and that is painful. This pain can lead to making weak offers that do nothing to encourage consumers to act, and that is one of the purposes of advertising!

Crafting a compelling call to action doesn’t have to hurt. It simply requires that you think like a consumer – what could someone offer you that would make you want to buy from her? Be creative and think outside the dashed lines of the coupon box:

  • Offer a service that complements a purchase, such as free home delivery on furniture, or a color consultation with any haircut. These add-on services make a consumer feel like she is getting a great deal on something that would normally cost extra!
  • Develop a member rewards club and give “charter members” an exclusive gift with their first purchase as a member. A local café owner may give his first 50 members a free coffee and donut, for example. This little gift is low-cost to the café owner, and it makes his 50 “charter members” feel like they are part of a select group of favored customers – which will make them champion his business to their friends and families.
  • Offer a free “upgrade” with the purchase of your products or services. A spa owner might add aromatherapy to a standard massage for a “luxury” experience, or an HVAC specialist might perform a system inspection on any service call. An upgrade is enough for a consumer to call you, and by offering a preview of your other products and services, you will keep her coming back for more.
  • Your own unique idea – go wild!

This isn’t meant to prevent you from discounting. Discounts are quick and easy ways to grab a consumer’s attention and get results. There is, unfortunately, no hard-and-fast rule for what makes a good discount, but keep the following in mind:

  • A small discount will make your business seem greedy and cheap; a large discount will make your business look desperate.
  • If possible, make your discount a dollar amount rather than a percentage off. Dollar amounts are easier for consumers to process and register, so “$10 off $100” sounds like a better deal than “10% off $100” – even though they’re the same!
  • This is the most important tip: you know best the value of your products and services. If a discount makes you feel uncomfortable, or makes you worry about your business’ well-being, then it isn’t the discount for you. And that’s OK! Just keep trying until you find one that works.

And really, that is the bottom line of creating a great ad: you have to make it your own. You will get your best results when you are creative and stay true to your business. We know that is easier said than done, so feel free to drop us a line or ask us a question at the email address in our contact info. We will do our best to answer your question and offer guidance, and who knows? You may inspire a future blog post!

RSVP Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana

888 958-7787

www.rsvppublications.com

https://www.facebook.com/rsvpohio

A Marketing Budget Is A Terrible Thing to Waste: Part 2

Posted by Renee Pugh and Jeff Vice

A Marketing Budget is a Terrible Thing to Waste: a Three-Part Series That Will Save You Money – Part Two

Welcome to the second part of our three part series on how to STOP wasting your marketing money on ineffective advertising. Our first part introduced the idea of the cluttered “kitchen sink” ad, and explained why this ad is not conducive to driving business; you can catch up with part one here (link).

Today we move on to part two, but first we want you to remind you of the premise we suggested you keep in mind throughout the series:

An advertisement should do at least two things: educate your prospects about what you sell/do, and move them to do business with you.

Part 2: Minimizing Impact & Results with the Minimalist

A quick note before we dive in: minimalist ads can work if done correctly. Such ads require both a strong visual and either a strong brand – think of ad campaigns by companies such as Apple, Absolut Vodka, and Volkswagon – or a strong message. See here and here  for some examples of striking and effective minimalist ads; both galleries contain sexually suggestive material, so please use caution when clicking. You will see that it is possible to produce a successful minimalist ad, but bear in mind that these ads are often intended to build awareness (educate) and not necessarily encourage direct action.

Yet, business owners still produce these ads in hopes of drumming up business NOW. The minimalist is the opposite of the kitchen sink method from our last post. Where the kitchen sink ad overwhelms prospects with a glut of information, the minimalist ad barely gives prospects enough information to even make them take notice. These ads typically include the business’ name, address, and phone number – with the occasional website address or haphazard visual thrown in for flavor. While avoiding the issue of clutter that beleaguers the kitchen sink ad, minimalist ads provide little or no information on the products or services offered and give prospects no reason to call.

This another easy mistake to make; you spend nearly every waking moment building and nurturing your business and know it like the back of your hand. Chances are, your immediate friends and family share this familiarity with what you do, and it becomes easy to live in a bubble where your business’ name is directly connected to what you offer. Remember that advertising requires that we think like consumers, not business owners – and consumers live outside our bubble! It’s OK to test the minimalist waters, but at least start by adding a little something to your ad that will make prospects give you a call. It is as simple as adding a basic offer to your ad – this will be your call to action. It is what makes consumers act upon your ad, and it is also the third and most common way business owners blow their marketing dollars.

Join us next time for our third and final installment in this series, “Sealing the Deal Like the Godfather: How to Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse.” Ring-kissing is optional!

RSVP Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana

888 958-7787

www.rsvppublications.com

https://www.facebook.com/rsvpohio