Magazines. Are they even a thing anymore? Do we do more than thumb through a celebrity gossip magazine as we wait to check out at the grocery store? I remember spending time at the store looking through magazines as a youngster and begging my mom to sign me up for Seventeen magazine because Leonardo DiCaprio was on the cover. I couldn’t wait for my monthly subscription of Tiger Beat to show up so I could read it cover to cover and tear out the boy band posters in the middle long before Justin Timberlake bleached his hair.
Are those days gone? To be truthful, digital magazine content is on the rise and no one can argue that. But does anyone still read print media, specifically magazines? The answer is yes! Freeport Press reported that people actually are reading more magazine content in print rather than in digital form. According to Magazine Media, actually, up to 96% of people under 25 still consume this media and 91% of all adults as a whole. That means that content is being read on this tangible form of media and if you can create content that catches and compels the reader, then you are sure to get that reach for your product or service.
So, what makes a good magazine ad? You want an ad that will stick on people’s minds like glue. The ultimate goal is you want to be recognizable. Whether it’s a symbol, style, or even a tagline. You want the reader to eventually learn and know what they’re looking at each time your work is out there.
Start by working on your copy. Keep it as concise and simple as possible. Seriously, get to the point. This isn’t the place to write a mission statement that somehow turns into a History of the Company and Why You Should Buy X. On average, a pair of eyes is only going to scan over your ad for about 10 seconds before moving on. If you keep it short and sweet, you’re already doing much better than other ads and more consumers will read the whole thing. Do you have something a little longer that you want the reader to see? Tease them! Catch their interest and provide a way for them to see more, usually by directing to the website.
Speaking of websites, if you have one (you should), you should always have it on your ad. Give the reader somewhere to go to get that product! Phone numbers and Facebook links are great too. Seriously, there are ads out there without any contact information. Don’t be one of those unless you’re widely known and international. Make it easy for the consumer to get to you.
Get that layout and design on lock. If you don’t have that, then chances are people will skip right over your ad. We’re visual creatures and drawn to things we find visually pleasing. Judging a book by its cover became a saying for a reason. If you took an English class ever, you may recall the professor telling you to show, not tell. That applies here too. Using color is already great, but try to be intentional about it to really make it shine.
Know your audience! If you’re in the home-style barbecue business, don’t put an ad in a healthy eating magazine. If you do car detailing and maintenance, you’re better off not putting it in a fashion magazine. These are obvious examples, but it would behoove you to double check where you are putting your money so you can gain the most readers.
Finally, test your ad. You know that weird feeling you get if you stare at a word for too long and then it looks wrong? Or if you see a photograph you took, or some writing you finished, and think, “Hey, this is nice!” But then you keep staring, become overly critical of your work, and roll your eyes as you hover over the delete button (maybe that’s just something I do)? Anyway, that’s how you should treat your new ad. First, print out some copies that will be a similar or exact quality as how it’ll look in the magazine. This is crucial to make sure all color, sizing, and resolution shows up how it should. Next, show it to other people. Do they understand it? Is it compelling? Yes? Great, send it off to the printers! No? Get back to business and take the criticisms with you so they can be remedied.
There you have it! A magazine ad that Elle Woods would approve of and show all her friends.
Now get to work.