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Make Newspaper Ads Work for You

Is your print campaign falling flat? You may be neglecting two keys to success.

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Q: Over the past 10months, I've spent $300 per month on advertising in a localcommunity newspaper to promote my financial planning practice. ButI have yet to receive one phone call from my ad. Should I dropadvertising altogether? Or should I change where I run my ad oralter its message?

A: You need toconsider both of these questions. But before dropping advertisingor changing where you run your ad, try reworking your ad first tosee if that improves your results. If you're still not gettingany phone calls, then look to adjust your strategy. To help youmaximize your efforts, here are some basic success strategies fornewspaper advertising.

Writing the Copy
When it comes to print advertising, you have to get to thepoint-fast. You're vying for the attention of consumers who arebombarded each day with advertisements from countlesscompanies-some being your competitors. Don't waste any timegetting your message across.

Your headlines should motivate readers to want to read on tolearn more about your product, price and offer. Get ideas aboutwhat headlines to use by scanning different types of ad copy,particularly those from the competition. Effective headlinesaddress a pressing customer need or desire. You should stay awayfrom using your company name as a headline, a common mistake madeby many business owners. The reality is that people care more aboutthemselves-and what you can do for them-than your business.You'll get a much higher response rate when your headlinequickly answers the question, "What's in it for me?"So, craft a headline that gives your audience a compellinganswer.

In the body of your copy, offer an incentive for the reader tocall you or come to your store. You may want to offer a discount, a20 percent off coupon or a free giveaway like "Register to Wina Free Palm Pilot," for instance. Also, try not to overloadthe reader with a bunch of facts about your business. Yourobjective is to put in just enough copy to get readers'attention and inspire them to respond.

Placing the Ad
Newspaper ads are very effective for businesses that market theirproducts and services locally. Not only can you reach a largenumber of people in a specific metropolitan location, but you canalso target prospects via their interests (in the sports, lifestyleand business sections, for example).

Take a trip to the local library and study back issues of thenewspaper in which you'd like to advertise. What would be thebest day for you to run an ad? If you were running a cateringbusiness, for example, you would want to choose Wednesday orThursday because those are the days most newspapers print theirfood sections. What section of the paper would be best geared toyour target market? If your offer is directed toward men, thesports section may be a good one to consider.

Advertising costs depend on a number of factors, including thesize of the ad, where it's placed, the day it runs and so on.Call and request a media kit from the newspaper so you candetermine what advertising steps you can take that will fit withyour marketing budget.

Sean Lyden is the CEO of Prestige Positioning (a service ofThe Professional Writing Firm Inc.), an Atlanta-based firm that"positions" clients as leading experts in theirfield-through ghost-written articles and books for publication.Clients include Morgan Stanley, IFG Securities, SunTrust ServiceCorp. and several professional advisory and management consultingfirms nationwide.

The opinions expressed in this column arethose of the author, not of All answers areintended to be general in nature, without regard to specificgeographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied uponafter consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney oraccountant.

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