Ad It Up

Are you gonna make 'em laugh? Cry? Run and hide? Your advertising strategy makes all the difference.

Advertising costs are high, and consumer attention spans are low. It's a scary combination that has every business owner searching for advertising's Holy Grail: the ad that's not only memorable but also has a measurable impact on the bottom line.

The trend over the past few years has been toward wacky image ads seemingly unrelated to the products they're touting. A sign of the times, those ads emerged during the freewheeling late 1990s, when companies could put outrageous images and words onto a page or screen and still see unlimited cash flow in their pockets.

Other companies have opted for the traditional approach, running "educational" ads using text rather than images, or featuring customer testimonials. What will work for your business?

The good news is, probably any of these strategies will work-if you know how to use them. Here's a look at four companies that took different paths in their advertising as well as expert opinions on what they did right and wrong-and how you can use their strategies in your business.

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Chris Penttila is a Washington, DC-based freelance journalist who covers workplace issues on her blog,

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This article was originally published in the May 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Ad It Up.

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