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Getting Noticed Is Your Advertising’s Number One Priority

If People Don’t Notice Your Ads, You’ve Failed.


Stand out in crowd
Image via Getty Images

Does that seem dumb, or somewhat obvious?

Well, as many of you snort at the very idea that advertising should "obviously" get noticed, I am sifting through various magazines and newspapers right now. I will not mention brands, agencies or products because:

a) There are way too many of them.

b) I have neither the time nor the inclination.

c) You'll cry tears of boredom.

d) They're not memorable (and that's the important one).

However, I will say I have flicked past ads for - airlines, pastas, beers, medicines, cereals, colleges, gyms, shoes, t-shirts and on and on and on.

I was intentionally looking for something to catch my eye, and nothing did. The stack of magazines and newspapers numbered over 22 periodicals. Each magazine had as least 100 pages. About half of those pages had some kind of advertising on them, be they full-page ads, half page, quarter page or even small space remnants .

Now, when I examined some of the ads more closely, I was surprised to find some good body copy, some well-written headlines and some sweet art direction. But so what? Why spend days crafting great ads if they will go unnoticed? Remember, I was actively seeking out ads, looking for things that were interesting. I was panning for gold, and I did find a few nuggets.

However, consumers don't operate that way. Not at all.

When your average Joe or Jane buys a magazine, they don't buy it to look for cool ads.

They don't buy it to be sold to. They buy it for the content, be it recipes, gossip, cars, sewing, guns, girls, or computers. They know that ads will be in there, but they don't care. It's just a fact of life. Everything these days comes with ads.

So to break through to that consumer, your advertising is going to have to be pretty special. That does not mean beautifully crafted copy and art direction. That's a given. Everything you do should be well-crafted. No, special means eye-catching. Really, really eye-catching.

It means doing something very unusual. It means taking huge risks. It means being downright offensive in some cases. Or at the very least, a little obnoxious.

Of course, you can't scream "FREE SEX" and then say "now we've got your attention, let's talk about insurance." The way in which you attract attention must be relevant to the product, service, media or message.

This is when some classic advertising tricks can come into play, and you should consider using them. Clients hate them, for various reasons, but if you're good at your job, you can convince them to trust you. Here are a few ways to give your ad a fighting chance.

· Use white space. Magazines and newspapers are crammed with text. If your ad is a breath of fresh air, you can use that space to draw in the eye.

· If not white space, flood the page with a color. An orange page in a sea of text will grab attention. Black, not so much, but it can be effective.

· Turn the ad on its head. Or on its side. It will be a break from the regularity. BUT, do it for a reason. Don't just throw the ad on it's side.

· Use a large font. A page filled with a headline could really break through. But it needs to be 90% of the ad. There are large headlines everywhere; yours needs to be enormous.

· Add a tip on. Things like toilet paper, smelly samples (like a parody of a perfume ad), foils, they all help.

· What about breaking all the rules? Print the ad backwards, or with mistakes in the headline? Make the ad look like it's off register, or there's been a spill on the page. Do things that uglify your ad. Anything that goes outside of the normal parameters is going to help you stand out from the crowd.

Remember, as Dave Trott has said, 89% of ads go unnoticed. You cannot afford to be contributing to that pile. Who cares if your ad turns off a lot of people, if it catches the attention of the right ones, you're golden.

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