Ads in printing publications offer a real challenge; on one side the customer wants an immediate response and on the other side the seller wants the best result for his customers and  hopes a continuous advertising revenue from a satisfied client. Unfortunately is not always the case, specially in medium or small publications.

Basically and ad is competing for ‘real state’ space with other ads — usually in great number— and  with editorial. Small companies care about the effectiveness of their advertising budget, they want to get the most for they money, they can’t compete with big budgeted companies of ongoing campaigns and big spaces.  They can’t hire an agency that produce brainstormed creative ads.

The same goes for newspapers. My experience in community and ethnic newspapers showed me is easier and more profitable to get an ad from a corporation. They pay more, get big space and send the advertising already designed, ready  for the printing plant. In comparison small business need design, copy write and advice. Among them there are those who are open to suggestions or others that have a fixed idea of what they want. Some want to fill the space hoping that something will catch the interest of the reader.

The commission of the sales team, and the pressure for their quota, made them pull as much as they can from their customers in order to meet their goals. What about the goals of their clients? I guess that’s the balance they have to confront as part of their profession.

The seller is the first contact the newspaper has with his advertisers,  if all is handled correctly they star developing a mutual trusty business relationship where the seller would become an advertising counselor, a situation ideal for everybody. Sellers possess a very good human interaction, psychology and drive to sell but sometimes they lack proper training in advertising to advise their customers.

That’s why is important to address this necessity with training. A practical fast training dedicated to the sales team about effective advertising in small ads is a great way for any publication to address a better service to its customers. A talk with concise points in an easy way showing simple facts, guiding without imposing ( I found  sales force tend to put this kind of information aside unless it represents more dollars to them)  was a good way to introduce sellers about designing proper ads.  Those are some of the highlights of the training:

An effective ad

1- Identification: Instead of a myriad of information cluttered and confusing an effective ad must present an irresistible offer that identifies a customer and captivates it.

2- Specialization: An effective ad can transmit a specific idea or message to potential customers and be good enough to stand out from competitors. One clear way is the transmission of a specific marketing strategy trough special promotions or products; this is called specialization, making somehow the business unique.

3- Clarity: It is best to feature few items rather than include everything. It many items must be mentioned select one for major emphasis. This dominant element will attract the reader and lead to a complete reading of the entire message.

Ads elements

1-The image: To reinforce and ad, and image is needed. It initially attracts the attention of readers.

Other Visual elements include the border art, white space, the type style, art style, art content and ad layout. The combination of all this elements and the image compose the whole graphic message to the reader.

Some recommendations:

  • Make also use of the fact that the reader tends to look in the direction in which a model, car or other subject is looking or moving, a model looking out the ad space may move the reader’s eyes away from the ad.
  • One image is all that an ad can successfully project, the image project the business and mirror customers’ self image to attract them.

2- The Headline: One good strategy is to write a strong offer that beats competitors and target potential customers. The best way to tell them what your advertising offers is by means of a strong headline. A good written headline summarize and telegraphs your message, a good headline don’t just grab attention; it also guide the reader into the rest of the ad.

Studies demonstrated that immediately after glancing at the visuals, the reader looks at the headline, sometimes headlines are also the visual element trough a nice typography smart distribution in the space.

3 Ad Copy: An ad not only advertise the best offer but also demonstrate how products of services relieves problems for customers and make them get the results they want. When a reader finally gets onto ad’s body copy, it should clinch the deal. Copy length must be kept relative to what a prospect want and need to know, with specific statements short and to the point.

Some recommendations:

  • When overprinting on a screen tone keep the screen light – no more than 20%.
  • Typefaces must be so easy to read that readers don’t even notice the type. Choose a type style that makes it easy for readers to focus on the offer.
  • Fonts with the small end strokes or ligatures called serif are easy to read, using more than two or three typefaces in on layout can weaken it.
  • Avoid all caps, lower case words are easy to read, never deform the horizontal scale, kerning and leading, condensing or expanding is troublesome for the reader.
  • As a rule of thumb, choose the largest typeface you can use without creating a crowding feeling in the ad.
  • Reverse type (white type dropped out of a solid black background), should be used for accent only and make sure it is bold and bigger than 12 points.

4- Space: An effective advertisement must have enough space to communicate its message; extra space that eliminates crowding can go a long way toward capturing interest and promoting effective communication. Blank space focuses the reader’s attention on the copy and the art.

5- Composition: Ad elements should be arranged in proper sequence to unfold the offer. White space allows the readers to understand copy and art; you will lose readers if you try to cram elements or text in every corner of the ad. Great ads are simply; they’re great because they are great pieces of communication.

Small space ads

The small ads requirements incorporate the concept of a good design to create an effective ad in a small space.

Small ads are made of the following elements:

  • Headline: The introduction to the ad, This is the part that telegraphs the idea or ad concept and introduces the reader to the rest of the ad
  • One Image: It is demonstrated that just one image is needed to attract consumer attention.
  • The body copy: the text will show the offer, slogan or explanation of services. It’ll need to be short and to the point.
  • The name of the business, address and telephone.

Technical Specifications.

  • Avoid type smaller that 6 points,
  • Avoid reverse type smaller than 12 points
  • Type over gray background denser that 25% will be hard to read


The following ad constitutes an example of a catching ad. The headline captures the reader attention and identifies a problem for potential customer who tango lessons is the solution. The headline introduces properly to the body text.


The body copy is short and to the point, and give the most important and relevant information in three ideas: the excellence of the instructors, the fun environment and the fact that can be taken solo or with the couple.

The Image faces the text and introduces it effectively with a sensation of flow and elegance.