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How does your audience "see" your advertising?

By Tim Oestreich | Fri, 7 Apr 2006

People pay attention to advertisements in the following order: graphics, headlines, and text. As an advertiser, you only have a few seconds to grab the attention of your audience.  The process of developing an advertisement is all about understanding how how to communicate efficiently with your reader.

The first step in the process of communicating with the reader is all about competing for their attention. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by grabbing their attention with interesting visual elements.  As the old addage states, "a picture is worth a thousand words," and in the interest of communicating a message quickly this is vital. In the few brief seconds that the readers eyes scan past your adverstisement, you must compell them to give you their time in order to tell them about your product or service.

The second step is the headline of the ad, It must make a strong, direct message with a compelling call to action.  The headline or "thesis" of the ad must reveal a need on the part of the reader.  Once the need or problem is apparent to the reader, then your product or service must be presented as the ideal solution for that need.  A good headline is concise and condensed.  It must also must be instantly understood.  Requiring the reader to think too much will break the flow of properly understanding the ad and make it less effective.

After you have captured the attention of the reader with visual graphics and the "thesis or headline, the third step is to more fully explain the features or benefits of your product with text.  Text in an advertisement must give just enough information to compel the reader to take the next step.  This is traditionally referred to as a "call to action." Simply explaining the value of your product is not  the end of the process.  You must  convince the reader to contact you.  Wether that means picking up the telephone or visiting your website, you must entice them to follow through.  A potential customer can be convinced that your product is valuable, but if that does not result in a sale it doesn't really matter.




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