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You've heard the phrase before. "I just bought the magazine to look at the pictures." There is a kernel of truth to that statement. Consumers are naturally drawn to the unusual graphics and pictures often used in magazines. It follows that magazine consumers are more likely to read magazine ads that carry compelling images.

As with newspaper advertising, there will be intense competition for the "mind share" of the consumer. The option of using two- or four-color printing in magazine advertising gives the advertiser an opportunity to create a lasting image of his or her product that has no equal in any other print advertising vehicle save direct mail. To further entice the reader’s desire for your product, some magazines even offer advertisers an opportunity to include product samples with their ads. For example, witness the proliferation of “scratch and sniff” perfume ads.

Naturally, all of these wonderful ad enhancements come at a premium. The cost of placing a full-page ad with all of the options in a magazine can be staggering. After all, the advertiser is actually paying for the production costs associated with printing a glossy, four-color publication. Costs for placing magazine ads will vary from publication to publication. They will also depend upon the size of the ad placed and the positioning of the ad. Magazine ads are sold by the page or page increment—full page, half page, quarter page, etc. Rates also depend upon the frequency with which an advertiser places ads over the period of a year. Typically, advertisers offer one-time, three-time, six-time, and twelve-time rates. Twelve-time rates are usually significantly lower than one-time rates. But, of course, you are paying that rate times twelve ads.

Here are 4 Tips for Writing Magazine Ad Copy

1. Get the Consumer’s Attention
You need to take the consumer by storm by focusing on creating an eye-catching headline or phrase. Include a graphic or logo to establish the tone of the message. Avoid controversial headlines and pictures. Humor should be used judiciously. It’s hard to come up with a humorous tone that is universally appealing. And especially with humor, make sure you are not offending anyone! On the other hand, a clever phrase or impressive graphic will attract the attention of, and be appreciated by, almost everyone.

2. Use Color Whenever Possible
Magazines offer the opportunity to use four-color photos and artwork to enhance the meaning and impact of your message. Use this powerful tool. Give your ad color if you can afford it. Four-color ads traditionally have the highest response rate from readers. The response rate typically decreases as use of color is eliminated—from four color to spot color to black and white. If you can't afford four color, but have a budget that will allow some "enhancement" over purchasing a basic black-and-white ad space, spot color is a good alternative. Most magazines offer standard spot colors red, blue, green, orange, or yellow at one rate, and specialized "matched colors" at a slightly higher rate. Matched colors are generally chosen from the Pantone Professional Color System and are commonly referred to as PMS colors. These colors are available in a wide assortment of hues and variations. Your printer or graphic designer should be able to show you the selection of colors available.

3. Make Your Pitch Concise and Simple
List the benefits and reasons why the consumer should buy your product or service. Keep it short and simple. Readers aren’t going to treat your ad like a novel and sit down for a long read. You have only 10 to 15 seconds to get your reader's attention and appraise him or her of the unique value of your product or service. So avoid long phrases or cute dialogue. Be precise and to the point.

4. Make It Easy for the Customer to Reach You and Order from You
To make it easy for potential customers to purchase your product or service, don’t forget to include your phone number (toll-free, if possible), website, or retail locations that stock your product at the bottom of the ad. If other special ordering information is needed, include that as well.

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Q: Should I run magazine ads without photographs or artwork?
A: No. Generally, this would be a waste of money. Even in limited-circulation publications, small ads will appear substandard if they don’t incorporate appealing graphics.
Q: Should I put color in my ad?
A: David Ogilvy, one of the all-time gurus of advertising, said that color is a bargain. It may cost about 50 percent more, but it delivers twice the response of a comparable black-and-white ad.
Q: Do I need to advertise repeatedly to get results?
A: When appraising the results of a magazine ad, keep in mind that magazines provide a medium that works best for image advertising. The periodic nature of the format doesn’t lend itself to inciting immediate action from a potential consumer. It takes time to see results.
Q: Why do so many trade magazine ads run without important company information such as a website or phone number?
A: The purpose of many trade magazine ads is image building—creating excitement for and awareness of a company’s products or services in the minds of potential consumers. They aren’t designed to generate sales or even inquiries. Large companies rely on their sales forces and/or distributors to make sales actually happen. Small companies may rely more heavily on telemarketers, independent representatives, direct mail, or trade show participation to deliver actual sales. The benefit of an image ad lies in its ability to “prep” potential consumers for making a purchase. Then, when they are personally contacted by a salesperson or telemarketer, they already know who the company is and what the product is about. Just because they have heard of you, they are simply more likely to buy from you! So while it may not hurt to include a phone number or website in a trade publication ad, don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t net a flurry of inquires.