Print Ad Layout Ideas: Insert Captions For Selling Below Every Image in Your Ad

May 27, 2010

Sales and Marketing studies have shown that the majority of people will first read the headline, followed by an image (or illustration), then the caption, then the body copy.

That’s why you should always insert a caption under every photo or picture you include in your sales product flyer or business brochure.

It has also been proven that captions which pull in the highest number of sales are ones that make a strong selling point. For example, let’s imagine you’re advertising a particular brand of facial cleanser. If your product helps consumers effectively remove blackheads and achieve better-looking skin faster than other brands, you could have a photo of an attractive model who has radiant complexion and include a before-and-after comparison of the amount of blackheads on the model’s nose.

To complete the photo, you might include an italicized caption in your sales ad that reads, “The ABC marvel gel helps you remove blackheads fast and achieve noticeably brighter skin after just 1 wash!” I personally recommend you to put your sales caption in italics because it makes it stand out from the rest of the copy around it.

In a nutshell, always remember to make your caption highlight the main selling benefit you’re trying to get across!

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Use Provocation As a New Source of Ideas for Your Ad Campaign

May 12, 2010

Recall an ad that you last saw. It could be an ad about that new beauty salon in town or the latest hair treatment solution for men above 60.

Chances are, the ideas would all start to look the same.

The good news is, there is a powerful advertising technique that allows you to discover new sources of ideas and draw attention in a stimulating way to your next ad campaign. This is where provocation can make a whole world of difference between an impactful campaign and a mediocre one.

When brainstorming thought-provoking ideas with your team, think about all the negative things about your product. Do your consumers have doubts, frustration or anger that they want to release? What are some of the unthinkable things that people would say about your product? The goal of this exercise is to drum up emotions which would help engage your team into a heated debate using provocation as a basis for new ideas.

Here’s a checklist of questions that will give you and your team the right foundation to stir up some controversy and thus paving the way for new, innovative ideas:

  1. What would be shocking, surprising or humorous in association with your product or ad campaign?
  2. How could you make your ideas controversial (Could it be breaking a taboo? Or addressing a social issue)?
  3. What would a child think or feel about the ideas in your ad?
  4. What unthinkable things would you not do with your product?
  5. Who might be offended or horrified by your ideas? How would people react?
  6. How would your product cause damage, and to what extent?
  7. If you could break a rule in the words you use, what would you say (E.g. Shit! Darn! Son-of-a-Gun! etc.)?

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Goal Setting Tips for Creative Advertising #2: 5 Easy Ways to Formulate a Goal

April 8, 2010

One of the biggest mistakes that most creative teams make is formulating the wrong goals. This leads to time and effort being wasted on ideas that are boring, complicated or in the worst case, misunderstood. If you are going to create overwhelmingly positive results in your advertising campaign, you must formulate the right goal. Here are 5 ways to help you Your goal should always:

  1. Be a single-minded proposition that can be easily understood within a few seconds. Bear in mind that a single-minded proposition has no “ands” (How can we demonstrate in an email teaser that “Club ABC” is the trendiest nightspot in town?)
  2. Be in the form of a question
  3. Be short and concise
  4. Be simple enough for anyone to understand.
  5. Avoid the use of complicated words or incomprehensible jargon.

To learn more about goal-setting in creative advertising, click here.


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Creative Thinking Technique #2: Ask the “What-If” Question

January 11, 2010

A great way to get your creative juices flowing is to ask “What-If” questions of your own and discover where your imagination takes you. Chunk down to the details of your visualizations and see what happens in different scenarios. For example, what if…

  • Your household carpet suddenly came to life and could take you anywhere you wanted? What does it feel like to travel everywhere for free? Would you take a loved one with you? And if you do, what does it feel like to soar in the air over a magnificent cityscape on a magic carpet ride…like Aladdin? What marvellous sights can you see? What incredible sounds can you hear?
  • You were given the ability to read the minds of people around you? What does feel like to wield such amazing supernatural power? What words would you say to the person whom you suspect to be backstabbing you in the office or to the confidence trickster who roams the streets below your home?
  • You stepped into your office one morning, and everybody became an animal befitting of each person’s personality? How would you react? What would you do if your boss, who suddenly became a snake, slittered his way to your feet?

Take a moment to try out this exercise.  And if you do it often, the faster and more likely you’ll be able to invent creative new ideas. Have fun!


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Creative Thinking Technique #1: Combine 2 Things Together to Create Something New

January 9, 2010

In my “Creative Thinking” series of articles, you’ll learn a set of fun exercises that can help improve your imagination and turn your visualizations into innovative ideas you can use in your ads or marketing campaigns.

A huge part of creative thinking is joining 2 previously separate ideas and creating something entirely new and unique.  Back in the 1950’s, who would have thought that somebody would combine the idea of using a paper cup with the popularity of eating noodles and came up with the world’s first instant cup noodle?  Today, cup noodles are sold all over the world and have even become a staple food in many households.

In the same way,  look for interesting everyday objects  and try combining their functions, features and forms so that something new results. The key thing is not be limited by your imagination! Try and see and you’ll be surprised by the creative, unique ideas that you come up with. As a start, try the following exercises for example:

What happens when you combine…

  • A watch and a phone?
  • A chair and a fruit, like a watermelon?
  • A clock and the wheel of a car?
  • A pen and a torch light?
  • A shoe and a pogo stick?

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What Winning Advertisement Campaigns Have in Common

January 7, 2010

The next time you visit a shopping mall, take a good look around you.

Look at the advertising billboards that stalls display in their windows. Pick up a flyer and read over the copy.

What catches your eye? Is there something in the ads that moves you and gets you talking to your friends about the offer?

In a landscape dotted by so much ordinary advertising, it is rare to find an ad that truly stands out and yet gets results. It can also be said that how receptive people are towards your ad campaign really depends on their culture. In Asia, it was claimed that audiences, who are more down-to-earth, do not respond too well to clever advertising. This is a stark contrast to western audiences, who respond well to bolder, creative advertising.

The truth is, be it in Asia or the West, consumers recall and respond better to ads they like, more than those they dislike. Bearing that in mind, what are some of the things that successful advertisement campaigns have in common regardless of culture and geography?

Simplicity – A good, effective campaign ad should be simple and avoids ideas that are explicitly tacked on to the brand (How many times have we seen mindless ads that repeat the brand-name over and over again?) In fact, the best ads are inspired by everyday life and highlight the central idea and promise behind the product. A good example, in my personal opinion, would be this commercial about Oreo cookies.

Sensitivity – While getting maximum publicity is one of the goals of an ad, it should always be for a good reason. Ads that don’t work are those that make use of sarcasm, irony and negative sell. An unfortunate example of an ad that received plenty of negative publicity was one particular health supplement company’s branding of the suggestive slogan, “I swallow”.  

Relevance – The idea behind your ad should be relevant to your target audiences’ needs and desires. To achieve that, you must have an insightful understanding of your consumers’ relationship with your brand – did your consumers “grow up” to that brand? Is that brand well trusted over different generations? Is that brand synonymous with the hip and trendy?

Focus – Successful campaigns, including print ads, all communicate 1 main idea and avoid saying too much. You should not cram multiple ideas into your ad. Take Apple’s tagline, “Think Different”, for example. Based on that proposition, you can explore ideas based around Apple’s revolutionary product design, dedicated customer support, superior technology – but not all in one ad.


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