Right from the beginning, print advertisements have been an important part of advertising. This is an ages old medium and still prevails in the ad world. Although with the introduction of online advertisement and electronic mediums, print ads have lost a chunk among the audience, however, there are millions who still rely on advertising through printed ads. Following is process and tips that will help the designers (and other people as well) cook an effective print advertisement and let your customers savor from it:

The Recipe

Know What You Are Selling…

To make anything, one should keep in mind its end usage or consumption in order to make it effective. Similarly, when designing a print ad, don’t forget its main objective, i.e. to sell. You have to give your target audience a clear path to take. Know either you selling a specific product of your client or the company as a whole. In both cases, you need to work out as what makes your commodity/service special and valuable to the potential buyers. Customers and consumers are quite aware of the ‘tricks of trade’. Telling your customer through your ad that you are “the best in town” does not work at all.

You need to have some stats, something quantifiable in order to catch the attention of your reader. “500 houses sold on the first day” is something impressive to be told by a real estate advertisement. Similarly the claims like “The most cars sold in the city” or “The most widely read newspaper in the country” are quantified and therefore can establish a true leadership position.

Also you need to judge as which element of the ad should be selling your client’s stuff. This element can be as small as placing the contact number in a prominent place in the press ad, or it can be more detailed and can include such elements a promotional item, special offers, or even a URL. This should be the most prominent part of your print advertisement design. Know before you start what your objective is, and end by critically examining your ad to make sure that it meets that goal.

There may be other tactical objectives to sell through your advertisement too. Most effective one is Leadership.  Leadership can take two routes, one, it is a great selling point because people are comfortable with buying your product or service if everyone else buys it too. Secondly, leadership can be taken as “first ever product in the country” or a certain service “being offered for the first time”.

However, this discussion will be of no use if you would not know or you wouldn’t be focused on what should be the objective of your advertisement. Sit with your client and ask them about their attributes and which route they would want to take in order to tap the target audience. Also ask them as what do they want to reap from this ad, because their final objective may be very useful to you as a designer. So knowing the purpose of your ad is the very first thing to do before cooking a print advertisement.

…And Whom You Are Selling To

Like knowing what you want to sell in your ad is very important, you should also know as whom you want to sell your ad to. Not everything being sold is for every consumer. Your client’s product or service will not appeal to everyone and, ultimately, neither will your ads.

There is always a specific group of people, belonging to a specific age bracket, financial position, gender, class, religious group, nation or any other particular thing that differentiates them from others. This particular group of people is called your ‘target market’. In order to get the most success out of your ads, you must make them appeal to your target market or the people who are most likely to be affected by your advertisement.

So before making an advertisement for your client, do some research on what is your target market? You client can help you in this matter as the target market of your ad will the same people whom your client has been aiming to sell his stuff. Following are some common factors you can use to gauge your target market:

  • Basic demographics (age, sex, orientation, nation, income, interests, marital status, employment, and hobbies)
  • Behavioral patterns regarding shopping
  • What is the general reputation of your brand/product/service?
  • How do they behave?
  • What are their needs, desires, and fears?

The Curry of Concept

After sitting with your client on his requirement for this ad and after researching about the target audience you want to address, you need to formulate a concept for your advertisement. Always remember, whatever you create, it needs to have a concept behind it. Likewise, advertisement created without a concept end up grotesque!

The simple way of creating a concept is to look at your client’s competing companies and do something like they are doing. Produce something similar, but not same. On the other hand, the tough way to lay a concept is to look at your client’s competitors and produce something entirely different.

The basic concept is that if you will be just like everyone else, why would anyone pay attention to your ad? The objective is to set yourself apart. Also, remember in order to make something different, you should not lose your attention over the main objective of the ad and also the target audience.


Your concept has to make sense for the publication and the audience being targeted. You can take reference from some of the most successful advertising campaigns. So the catch is to think outside the box, but be smart about appealing to your particular target audience.

Copy Writing Ketchup

Copy writing is the most important part of any advertising material, after the design. Either it’s a brochure, flyer, post card or even a business card, copy never loses its impact over branding and brand imaging. Design and copy both go hand-in-hand in order to convey a certain message through the advertisement. However interestingly, copy writing is something everybody thinks they can do but in reality, they can’t. So for the designers, I would suggest them to hire a professional copy writer instead of scratching their brains off themselves.

However, no matter who writes the copy, there are some important points to consider.

  1. Do not talk about how great your company or product is, emphasizing on what’s in it for the potential buyers.
  2. Don’t quibble! Focus on the element you want to sell and avoid extra information. Once again, people don’t have time and interest to read all what you want to tell them.
  3. Call-to-action is a ‘must’ for the copy of the advertisement. You have to persuade your potential consumers to buy your product /services by writing things like “call us” or “visit our website” or “visit your nearest branch now!”
  4. Your copy should be clear, simple and elegant. Avoid buzzwords, rough language cliches and puns. However, using slang in ad copy is a cool approach. Also, take a personalized approach for the intended i.e. speak to one person, not the masses.

Gravy of Graphics

After getting done with copy writing, ponder upon the graphical elements of the ad. This graphical element can be a real picture, a computer graphic, an icon or any image. Layout can also be termed as a graphical element. Some ads may have only a single visual while others might have several pictures. Even text-only ads might have some graphics in the form of decorative bullets or borders.

Visual is one of the first things readers look at in the print advertisement, even the uneducated ones. So if you use a good visual in your ad, then you already communicate to twice as many people as you otherwise might. Another suggestion is to use photographs instead of illustrations whenever possible. People tend to relate to realistic photographs more easily than unrealistic ones.

Mix It All, Make It One

When you are done with all the thinking, writing and designing, mix all these things into your concept in a fine composition. A good composition of the ad is best done with white space the first thing you need to consider is white space. White space or free space can be of any color and at any part of the layout. Make sure your headline, imagery and copy all complement each other and flow well together.

The Ingredients


Consistency and uniformity is vital when making a print advertisement. Choose a simple yet recognizable logo for your product or brand and include it in everything, and similarly place it in each ad. The basic theme, layout, visual and copy of the advertising campaign should be uniform in all communications.


Within the capacity of your basic design layout, your design must have an eye-catching detail that will attract the viewers. The charisma of the ad lies in both the visual and the copy. Use words and images in ad that convey. While the focal point of your design must be eye-catching, make sure it retains clarity in its message.


Advertisements are viewed by potential consumers for only a few seconds and only clarity can make them understand the message well. Increase your ad’s readability by arranging text and artistic elements in a clear composition. If your ad design is polluted with confusion, distraction or questionable manner, viewers will certainly attribute these negative characteristics to your product, company’s or message.


The advertisement you design should be a ‘persuader’, in other words it should immediately generate a call-to-action. Consider your print ad a success when you start having calls or email next day after its publication.

The point of your ad is to generate interest in your product or service. You are not trying to win awards, or conquer the ad world. Advertising can be visually stunning as well as effective, but don’t get so caught up in the details that you forget that the point is to sell.