Do’s & Don’ts for Ad Design in Local Magazines and Publications

advertising design suggestions for your local rag paperAd design for publications has been a favorite of mine for some time. Perhaps it stems from my early roots working in the production dept of a local community newspaper group in San Diego. Papers came out weekly on Thursdays. Being part of the ad design team along with creating special sections for events kept us on our toes!

You quickly learned which ads did well with their content and messaging and which ads needed improvement. Sadly, more often than not, it was the biz owners who insisted on including info that did not always work in their favor…

Don’t poo poo print entirely!
Just about every town/city etc. has one if not several local print publications – not to mention Visitor’s Guides. All of these present opportunities for you to get your name out there about your business. Many of these publications now have digital versions, so your ad can potentially drive business to online/offline subscribers allowing you to deliver your message to reach the entirety of your audience.

• If you’re a new business, running an ad in local publications to promote a “Grand Opening” is certainly worth considering.

• If you’re an existing business promoting a special event, then running an ad to get the word out is an option too.

• If tourism in a major part of the economy and your industry is some form of hospitality, dining or recreation then advertising in a Visitor’s Guide should not be overlooked.

So don’t completely dismiss or poo poo doing any type of print or magazine publication advertising entirely. The fact is, depending on your type of business or the audience you wish to reach, it may still be a viable option as part of an integrated marketing strategy.


What to Include in Your Ad:

As for the “do’s”, regardless of the area (local, regional or National publications) certain design principles should still apply for advertising design such as:

• Copy Elements (your messaging, promotion – Be Clear, Less IS More!)
• Graphic Elements/Imagery/Photography
• Location, Tel#, Website
• Layout
• Size and Shape

These things will work together to create the most effective ad.


You’re Never Too Cool for Contact/Location Info!

local tabloid magazineMake it REALLY easy for folks to find your location and or contact info. Living in touristy towns as I have, it boggles my mind how some businesses feel they are so cool that their ads do not warrant this info?

For the record, your biz is not some underground club where you need a secret password to get in. You WANT folks to find you!
You may be the cool coffee shop, brew pub or bike shop all the locals know. But what about tourists or other vacationing visitors?

If you want their business, they will require a bit more info. So it makes good business sense to include both location and contact info (such as a tel#) in your ads. Make it easy for people contact and or find you!


DON’T ASSUME Everyone Has a Smartphone!

Don’t assume that everyone one is going to have a Smartphone and or an internet connection where they can just “Google” your biz name to find you. There are still lots of “dead-zones” – heck I lived in one in Santa Fe!

If they’re driving around, they may have a GPS in their car so all the more reason to include your location and telephone #. Otherwise you may be losing out on some great customers and or sales.


Use Your Website So Folks Can Learn More…

This is Business 101 folks. It’s the digital age – so YES, you really should have a website – NOT just a Facebook page!

Be sure to include a link to your website on your ad. If you’re a restaurant, cafe, pub or other eating establishment, folks will want to look at your menu. Include pricing too. Trust me on this!!

If you’re a bar/pub promoting a “Happy Hour”, put it on your ad. In fact, dedicate a specific landing page on your website so that the link in your ad takes them directly there. The link can look like:

Rather than folks having to search around on your site for this info, a link like this will get them right there. It makes for a good user experience so folks can see what your specials are 🙂

Doing something like this holds true if your ad is promoting a Special Event. Have a link in your ad (and correspond landing page on your website) that takes folks EXACTLY TO THAT INFO. I cannot stress this enough!

The latter one is a particular pet peeve of mine. Seeing an ad in the local rag for an event which only included a link to the website. The website was so poorly thought-out for visitors that it was next to impossible to find any relevant info.

Locally speaking…
Be sure to claim your business listing and completely fill out your profile on  Google My Business. Doing so enables you to better show up in local searches and for folks to read reviews of your establishment. Be sure to add photos too!


Advertising Design is a Form of Visual Communication

In essence, advertising design is a form of marketing and visual communication. Ideally your ads should be memorable and create brand awareness around your business or promotion. Executed correctly, advertising design is a creative business solution which is intelligent, delivers your message (very often it is for promoting a special event) and is ultimately focused on driving sales.

Print publications still exist for a reason. And people WILL spend more time looking at a good magazine ad over an online ad. So with that in mind, just be sure people can actually find your business 🙂


eco-conscious graphic designer barbara rogersWritten by Barbara Rogers of Future Primitive Graphics. Graphic Designer and Nature Inspired Art photographer visually enhancing client’s print and digital media. Creatively collaborating with those who genuinely want to make the world a better place.