How to Create a Winning Ad for Your Small Business

There are so many choices when it comes to advertising your small business these days that it can at times be overwhelming; offline, the choices include print options like newspapers and magazines, as well as electronic options such as TV, cable TV, radio, satellite radio, and more. Online it can be even more bewildering; not only is there the pay-per-click versus the pay-per-impression conundrum, but even just choosing the right platform (Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc.) can make it that much more challenging.

So what do you do? Let me suggest that it need not be that difficult because, no matter which option you choose, you still need to create an ad that pulls and the good news is that, all ads, no matter the media, are fairly similar in structure. They all must grab attention, make an offer, and have a call to action. One simple way to create a successful ad then, whatever the media, is through the tried-and-true AIDA method. This stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. The AIDA formula serves as a good blueprint for creating a winning ad—any type of winning ad.

Here are 4 steps to creating a winning ad for any medium:

1. Attention: THE FIRST THING YOU HAVE TO DO IS GRAB THEIR ATTENTION! See? Once you do that, you can get potential customers interested in what you are selling, but if you don’t get their attention, they will never hear a thing above the din of headline news, sports stories, and viral videos. So you must first hit your prospect between the eyes with a powerful headline that shows them the benefit of hearing more, and do so in two or three seconds. When writing your ad, keep in mind the benefits most likely to get attention are saving money, saving time, making money, and better health. My favorite ever: “The Lazy Man’s Guide to Riches!” Beyond the headline, the other way to capture their attention is to use a great visual or photograph. One’s eye is naturally drawn to pictures, and so incorporating one into a headline can really make a difference.

Steps 2 & 3: Interest and Desire: After you have the prospect’s attention, you have to sell them, in the body of the ad. You do that by making the customer a compelling offer and describing as many benefits as possible in simple and interesting terms. Since the product or service, to be successful, must fill a need, you must explain how it does that—what it does to fulfill some want or need a consumer has. Your ad must be well written or produced, clearly explain the benefits to the customer, and keep their attention.

Step 4: Action: Finally, you must ask for the sale. Give reasons for the customer to buy now, and make it easy for him or her to do so. This might involve a sale that is ending soon, a coupon, a toll-free order line, an e-mail address, an on-line order form, a fax order line, or any other means to make it easy and smart to order right away. Be sure to take the fear out of the purchase as much as possible by giving guarantees, offering testimonials, and showing how the customer is going to lose if he doesn’t order NOW!

If you follow the AIDA formula, you should find that your ad will work, no matter what medium it is in.  

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