Design like a pro! Three steps to creating eye-catching ads

May 27, 2014
By: Steve Staedler

So you’ve decided to advertise and grow your business. Three steps are necessary for creating an effective ad that will make your audience take notice and act.

In the last month you've probably seen hundreds of print and online advertisements. And you most likely breezed right past many of them, but some undoubtedly caught your eye and stopped you. Why was that? Those ads that did make you stop and take a look did their job.

The purpose of an advertisement is to attract the reader/viewer and deliver a single message. An effective ad shares the message, communicates it quickly, and moves the reader to action. That's not an easy thing to do in just a few seconds, but that's all the time you have to capture your audience's attention. 

The article "How to strengthen brand awareness and grow your brand through advertising" on presented the case for advertising and the value it can bring to your brand. The top three reasons you should advertise are to establish brand/product awareness or interest, reinforce brand/product preference, and grow your business. Advertising can do these things for you – provided it's done correctly.

An effective advertisement contains three elements:

  • A clear message
  • Brevity
  • Professional appearance

Missing even one of the three elements means the ad probably won't stop the reader and efficiently deliver its message, which means the ad has failed. How do you ensure your ads attract readers and persuade them to act?

A Clear Message

For an ad to be effective, you need a compelling reason to produce it in the first place. The ad should contain a main message or offer that's going to elicit interest on the reader's part. One thing you want to avoid is getting stuck into a reactive "me too" position and feel the need to produce an ad because your competitor is running one about a product that is similar to yours.

If you find yourself placing an ad because someone else is running one, just to put your name in the hat, it's not going to be very effective. You must bring something more to your audience than just "look at me too."

What you need to present is your product's unique selling proposition within a single, clear message. Your product or service offering does have a unique selling proposition: It is what differentiates it from competing products. Identify the differentiator and make it the focus of your ad.

Your ad must convey its one and only message in just a few seconds. If it takes longer than that, or if the message isn't communicated clearly, the reader simply turns the page or clicks another link. An effective ad catches the eye and holds attention to deliver the message and evoke a desired action. Your ad should tell the reader what the product benefit is and then relay how it's going to affect him or her. 


The old adage that less is more applies to many things, and ads are one of them. Just because you have space in your ad doesn't mean you have to fill it up with additional information, messaging, taglines, or photos. Remember, the ad needs to have a clear message and communicate the main benefit to the reader in just a few seconds. That's not going to happen if you try to cram an entire brochure's worth of content into it.

To effectively and succinctly communicate the main message, your ad needs a strong headline and image, supported by concise body copy and a call to action. Be confident in the message you're putting out, and do so in the way that's easily understood. Avoid running an ad with a headline and two subheads, three paragraphs, multiple graphic elements, and additional photos, as this almost guarantees the message will be lost or overlooked. Don't bog down or hide the ad's message with a bunch of clutter.

Equally important is the ad's call to action, that is, what you want your audience to do. Go to a website? Call for more information? Be clear in how you want the reader to engage you.   

Professional Appearance

Want to make sure no one remembers your ad? Slap it together with poor photos and graphics and bland copy, and you'll do just that. Your ads, just like your website, collateral material, and sales tools, are a direct reflection of your company and brand – so make them look professional.

A professional and polished ad lends credibility. Embarking on a media campaign takes time and money, and the last thing you want to do at this point is skimp on the design process.

To save money, companies often cut corners on photography, and that's a wrong move. Consumers of promotional materials have become accustomed to high-quality images coupled with snappy headlines. They form opinions about quality based on these elements that can influence a buying decision. A good image or photograph goes a long way toward catching a reader's eye and holding his interest. If your ad looks cheap and cobbled together, that's how your brand will be viewed. Invest in professional photography or illustrations to best capture the shot your ad requires. Don't shortchange the power of good photography.

For best results, consider hiring creative professionals to design your ads. Better yet, choose a creative team that's familiar with the fabricating and metal stamping industry. That's important because they know your audience and how to best communicate with them. Again, if your targeted audience doesn't' hear your message in their own language, your ad will fail.

Following these three steps greatly increases the chances of your ad and message being seen, received, and acted upon. Doing so can help prevent the reader from blindly turning the page.

Steve Staedler

Steve Staedler

Senior Account Executive
LePoidevin Marketing
245 S. Executive Drive, Ste 365
Brookfield, WI 53005
Phone: 262-754-9550