I've recently been working on some ad campaigns for a home improvement company that advertises in several residential coupon publications in the Indianapolis area. Here are a few tips I'd like to share:
1. Talk to Your Sales Rep
Your sales rep wants your ad to succeed, and they have a lot of helpful information about the success of different kinds of offers within the demographic to which their publication caters. I learned that for most publications I was working with, dollar amounts are more attractive to readers than percentages. The word FREE is golden. And customers know when they are getting a real deal, and when you're just trying to sucker them in to something.
2. Know Your Demographic
Who reads the publication? Women? Men? Single? Married? With kids? What's the average income level? This information should make a big difference in the kind of coupon you offer, as well as the language and visual elements you use in your ad.
3. Review a Copy of the Publication
What's your competition doing? If you can, get back copies. If you see a competitor doing the same kind of offer over and over, it's probably working for them and might work for you.
From a purely visual standpoint, what design elements and colors jump off the page and get your attention? I noticed that a lot of ads were full of clutter making them very unattractive to my eye. It's tempting to fill your ad to the brim with special offers and sales copy. Don't do it. Multiple offers are fine, but pick one to highlight, to be the attention getter. The customer will see the rest after they've been drawn into the ad.
4. Test Multiple Offers and Designs
Some publications have the capability to run different ads for you in different mailing zones. Or you can purchase two ad spots in one publication. For the test to be useful, be sure to use different phone numbers and website urls in each ad's call to action. Don't be afraid to get a little crazy with one of the test designs... maybe you don't offer a coupon at all, just communicate an urgent sense of need, or try a funny headline to get attention. You're not wasting your money, you're learning what works best.
5. Determine Which Publication Works Best for Your Business
Run similar ads in multiple publications, with each ad having its own dedicated phone number and website url for tracking purposes. Now here's the important part, TRACK your conversion stats. Keep tabs on which phone numbers get the most calls, which web urls get the most hits. Then from those calls and hits, which ad in which publication generates the most closed sales?
Taking the time to research a publication you plan to advertise in can help your ad be more successful, generating more sales for you.