How to Design Magazine Ads that Work

by Dennis Gartland II

1. Headline: On the average, five times more people read the headline than the body copy. If consumers like the Headline they will go on to read the body copy. The Headline is what brings them in. The headline must be easy to understand and state the reason why the consumer should continue on and read the body copy.

2. News and headlines: Readers buy consumer magazines and newspapers to read the articles. If you have real news such as updates to your product or service or recent innovations make sure you put them in the headline.

3. How many words in a headline? In headline tests conducted with cooperation from a big department store, it was found that headlines of 10 words or longer sold more goods than short headlines. In terms of recall, headlines between 8-and-10 words are most effective. In mail order advertising, headlines between 6-and-12 words get the must coupon returns. On the average, long headlines sell more merchandise than short ones

4. Speak to Your Prospects: When trying to reach a specific groupt; Speak to them in your headline – Parents, bald people, CEO’s?

5. Buyers Will Read Long Copy: Readership falls off rapidly up to 50 words, but drops very little between 50 and 500 words. Potential buyers will read longer into an ad. Peak their interest with the headline, and then sell them in the copy.

6. Before and After Ads: Before and after ads are above average at grabbing the consumers attention. Contrast tends to work well. Readers also seem to have an above average understanding of what the ad is saying.

7. Photographs vs. drawings: Photographs work better than Art almost all the time. People like to feel thins are “real.” The photograph should help pull readers in. Plus it must be pertinent to the product you are selling. The photograph must have story appeal.

8. Captions: Captions under photographs are read 2x that of the body copy. Never place a photo without a caption It helps make your ad look more like editorial which will increase believability and results. Because Associated Press Style requires captions under photos readers expect it.

9. Editorial layout vs. Art Layout The more an advertisement looks like the editorial in the magazine the higher the readership on most occasions. The art layout is much easier to get by the President of the company you are representing. A good agency will take the time to convince the CEO that he knows much more about their product that the consumer.

10. Test and Retest Readership has been known to increase with repetition. Continually test new ads against the old ones and run the winner.

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