By Carolyn Schwaar
After examining readers’ reactions to tens of thousands of ads, the American Marketing Association concluded that the best way to create an effective promotion is to present one key idea, in an easy-to-read and -understand manner, that speaks to the needs and interests of your target audience, and is supported by a headline, illustration, and text. Here are some tips to help your ads get noticed.
Use headlines that sell. Grab attention with headlines focused on why members should attend, not what they’re attending. For example, “Make Profits Soar” is a more effective headline than “Realtor® Association Annual Conference.” If the intended reader’s response to the headline is, “So what?” he or she likely won’t read the accompanying text.
Write targeted text. You caught members’ attention with the headline “Make Profits Soar.” Now repeat that idea in event copy that explains how each seminar and networking event will meet that end. Don’t lose readers by introducing unrelated information such as event history, an unrelated message from the association president, or sponsorship and exhibiting opportunities.
Emphasize benefits, not facts. Offer a dynamic explanation of what members will learn at your event and how it will help their business. Avoid long descriptions of your speakers’ credentials.
Encourage action. In addition to laying out your event details, tell members to act now. Emphasize that members can “RSVP Today,” “Save the Date,” “Take Advantage of Early-Bird Rates,” “Register Online in Three Minutes,” or “Check Out Our Web Site for More Details.”
Cut the clutter. Strive for a single image or headline that exemplifies your event theme or purpose.
Empty space is preferable to excess words and graphics that can dilute your message.
nGet smart with art. Use graphics only if they help convey your message. Stock or custom photos of attractive people in action draw attention more than photos of convention centers or association buildings.
Create consistent design. Repetition breeds familiarity, so use the same colors, graphics, and fonts in all of your print and electronic promotions. Consistent design ensures that your promotions are easily and quickly recognizable.
Design for online. Don’t think you can skip design work by exclusively marketing electronically. Your e-mails and event Web site need to be attractive in addition to being functional. Instead of scanning print materials, design specifically for e-mail, including links to more online material.
Mind the postage meter. Before you start printing, submit sample promotional materials to your post office to ensure the affordability of your postage rate. To qualify for the lower postcard postage rate, keep your dimensions under 4 1/4” x 6”. Anything larger will cost you more.
nInclude ad or sponsorship space. Sell advertising or logo space to businesses that want to reach your audience.
Ask about overstock. Approach printers about using any overstock paper they have on hand at a discounted rate.
Get competitive. Turn your event design into a contest at a local college or design school. Have art students submit designs and award the winner a modest cash prize and a mention in the event materials. Provide entrants a detailed spec sheet, including proposed budget.