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Space Craft

Want to make the most of a small-space ad? Use it to lure readers to your Web site.

These days, that meager little ad budget of yours, and the ravioli-sized ad space it buys, are all you may need to create the promotional impact you were hoping to get for your business.

I say this because it's now possible to use a dink of an ad to lure readers to your whale-of-a-Web-page ad . . . on the Internet, that is. Rather than require prospects to phone or write for the information you couldn't fit into the ad, get them to log on to your Web site and view your full story in luminous color on their monitors.

This approach, however, comes with a big asterisk. Many people are not yet Internet-savvy. And even if they are, getting them to log on to the Web to view your page can be a challenge. That's been the experience of Max Lloyd of Raleigh, North Carolina, who wrote recently requesting a small-space ad makeover.

Lloyd publishes a suite of software products to help the traveling professional get the most out of being constantly on the road--or, more accurately, in the air. Lloyd's Travel Tracker helps you maximize the amount of frequent flier miles you can accumulate. Then there's his Travel Guide, a database of information on what's worth seeking out wherever you happen to land. Both products are priced at $39 each. He rounds out the suite with a few other travel-related utilities and offers a total package price of $79.

Lloyd runs his small ad in two travel publications and says he's getting more orders (average sale $39) directly from the ad than through his Web page. That's because it's a hassle for travelers to access the Internet from their destination city. Overall, though, business has not been great, and I can understand why. It's almost impossible to titillate readers about five sophisticated products in a puny, 2-inch space.

But Lloyd originally figured he'd use the tiny ad to lure a lot of prospects to ogle his expansive Web site. No such luck because of the inconvenience and also because, frankly, he doesn't really promote the site. The address is hidden in barely squintable size at the bottom of his ad. I'd make it leap out near the top of the ad and include an incentive to visit the site. Plus, I'd make the rest of the ad enticing enough to grab--and hold--the scanning reader.

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This article was originally published in the May 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Space Craft.

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