A Lunchtime Lesson on Print Advertising

I promise you'll be able to finish this article before you finish the first half of your PBJ. Are you sitting down? Good. Because I have some startling news for you.

Print ads are here to stay. That's right. Those dusty, musty, fusty old relics of the century past are still with us. And despite the ubiquity of commercials on radio and TV; despite the onslaught of banners, pop-ups and all manner of intrusive online ads; newspapers and magazines are, and always will be, a mainstay forum for mainstream advertising.

There's something about the readiness, the handiness, the heft and feel of a magazine or a newspaper that appeals to the nature of human beings. Yes, flat screens that glow with vivid colors are attractive. Especially when they're displaying something we specifically asked to see.

But as we page through a magazine or a newspaper while enjoying our lunch or riding a commuter train, we don't mind at all if a surprising or intelligent or just plain appealing ad ? even one in black and white ? suddenly grabs our attention. We expect it. We secretly look for it. We even welcome it as a break from all the dull gray type we've been slogging through. Why? Because ? let's face it ? a really good ad is a delight to behold.

Is this the kind of ad your target audience is seeing? Do your ads stop them and make them smile?think?take in your message and make a mental note to look closer at your product or service? Maybe even go to your website for the kind of information that could lead to a sale?

Think carefully about this. If your ad doesn't stand apart, doesn't attract, appeal or grab; if it doesn't delight in some way, the readers you want to capture and bring into your world will simply turn the page and plow on through the dull stuff . . . until they bump into your competitor's delightfully different ad. And then they'll stop ? and, unfortunately for you ? pay attention to the message.

So take a close look at your company's ads. Do they stand out from the crowd of other ads? Are they different from your competitor's ads in a powerful and relevant way? And most important, do they convey your core message in an engaging, persuasive and delightful manner?

If so, let them run and run, because they're bound to bring you business.

If not, better change your approach soon. Before the competition eats your lunch.

Gary Watson writes ads for companies that want to add to their bottom line. He also does product/service naming, slogans/tag lines, billboards, web content, sales letters (print and email), etc. etc. He can be reached at [email protected].

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