Total Recall

This story appears in the November 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Companies spend billions of marketing dollars each year to design memorable ad campaigns. But what does it really take to make your business's name or message stick in a prospect's mind? These methods will make your next campaign memorable:

How can you get prospects to spend more time with your ads? According to Philip W. Sawyer, director of Starch Communications, a Harrison, New York, testing firm specializing in readership studies, the most memorable print ads have messages that grab the reader. Those ads include headlines that contain a benefit and a strong visual focal point, such as a close-up of a model looking directly at you. One large photo works best in magazines, while in newspapers, you can use multiproduct visuals. A Starch Communications study on behalf of the Newspaper Association of America showed that when three-quarters of ad space was devoted to illustrations, recognition rates improved by 50 percent.

Testing also shows that, on average, larger ads in print media are more memorable. However, a creative ad in a small space can be more memorable than a so-so one that takes up a full page.

Some colors enhance memorability in print media-including sky blue, golden yellow and shades of blue-green. Red is a good spot color in newspapers, where Sawyer says color increases recognition by 20 percent. But there's new information about four-color ads in magazines: A few years ago, color ads earned 24 percent higher recognition scores than black-and-white ads. Now, full-page black-and-white campaigns are breaking through the clutter, and four-color ads have lost their advantage.