In my conversations with ISPs, most have told me that print advertising doesn't work for them. However, I can't help but wonder if those ISPs could have run their marketing campaigns better. Here are some things to remember the next time you try print advertising.

1. As in all advertising, repetition is required. The prospect may not be interested in your service offering this week, but next week they might be. It will take between fifteen and twenty-one exposures of your name before the light goes on in the prospect's mind. So don't base results on just one or two ads! Keep them running for a while.

2. The headline you use is extremely important. If it isn't compelling enough to get the reader to actually stop and read your ad, then you won't be selling anything. The headline must grab their attention and interest, and pull them into your ad. Headlines do not have to be cute, or fancy, or rhyme; but they absolutely must grab the reader's attention and stop them from moving on to the next ad.

Have the headline tell the reader what your ad is about, such as Free Internet for a Year. In the body of the ad you can say, "when a 3 year contract is signed", or whatever conditions you want to attach to it.

3. The ad should have a call-to-action such as "while supplies last", "3-day offer", "this week only", or some sort of phrasing that will get the person to actually pick up the phone and call you. Avoid phrases like "call today" or "call now" because they have no sense of urgency. In contrast, "last three days" lets the reader know that after that time they have lost out.

4. Please don't use reverse copy. White lettering on a dark background is difficult to read and reduces the chances of your ad being looked at—especially if there is a lot of copy.

5. You don't have to tell the entire story in the ad. Instead, bulleted points or statements can give the essence of what you have, allowing you to expect the reader to call or come by.

6. Remember the old marketing K.I.S.S. principle: Keep It Simple Stupid, or Keep It Simple & Straightforward. Either way, keep your ad simple and to the point.

7. If you can afford color in your ad, then by all means have color. Red indicates action and blue coveys trust, so use blue with "Guarantee", "Family Friendly", and similar phrases. Red would be used with "Last Three Days" and other call-to-action phrasing.

8. Graphics should enhance and support the message, so don't have a graphic just to have a graphic. Sometimes graphics can pretty much tell the whole story, and if that's the case for you, then let the graphic take center stage and have the copy support the graphic rather than the other way around.

9. In general, the bigger the ad the better. When you read the newspaper or look at one of those weekly ad flyers do you take the time to actually look at all those small one-inch ads? Probably not, and that's why I don't recommend small ads. Your ad should be large enough to get noticed by just about every reader, and that means a quarter-page ad at the least.

Yes, they are more expensive, but they are also more likely to be seen and read. So if you are going to spend hard-earned money on an ad, then it should be something that people actually can see with little or no effort on their part. Why spend money on a small ad that few people see and fewer read?

10. Contracts with the Magazines are good. Many people don't want to sign a contract because they don't understand what the relationship with the Magazine is. When you sign a contract for display advertising you are committing to a specified number of insertions (ads) in a given amount of time, usually a year. You are saying "I will place multiple display ads in your Magazine if you give me a discount." For example, if you sign a contract for 12 insertions that means during the next twelve months you will place 12 ads. You are not committed to the size of the ad.

Print advertising can work when done properly, but as in any advertising, one ad will not cause the phone to ring off the hook. Repetition is paramount. You must get the prospect's attention, you must give them a compelling reason to choose you, there should be a call-to-action, and please don't forget to include your phone number in the ad.

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