Print advertising, it’s everywhere. When you’re reading a magazine or a newspaper, you’re likely to flick past countless adverts for companies and products from all ends of the spectrum. So with print advertising everywhere we look, how exactly do you write copy that will make your print ad stand out from the crowd?

LOCALiQ State of Digital Marketing Report

State of Digital Marketing Report 2024

Exclusive insights and data from the marketing strategies of over 500+ UK business

Identify who your print ad is aimed at

The first thing you need to do when you approach writing copy for your print ads is to identify your target audience. This may seem more difficult for print adverts than for other channels, as it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what kind of reader will see your print adverts, whereas for channels such as email, you know exactly who your email is going to be delivered to. But it is still definitely worth spending some time identifying who you’re trying to write your print advert for.

Think about where your print ad is going to appear and what audience is likely to see it. What kind of people are most likely to be reading this publication? Do you know what kind of age and demographic range they tend to fit into? Are these people likely to know about your business already or are they more likely to be brand new customers? All of this information will help you to think more clearly about the audience your print advert needs to reach, and will help you tailor the kind of messaging and copy to write for it.


Write an engaging Headline

When it comes to print advertising, your headline has an important job to do. It needs to make a reader pause while reading the magazine or newspaper, and it needs to be interesting enough to make them stop reading the original content and move their attention to your advert instead. This means that you need to write a headline that is all of the following things: eye-catching, succinct, and engaging.

A short and snappy headline is more likely to stand out on the page and grab attention, and it’s also more likely to be interesting enough to encourage your audience to read the print ad rather than flick past it.

There are countless ways that you could make your headline engaging, it really comes down to playing around with the words and being creative to figure out what best works for you and your business. For example, could your headline ask a question to generate interest? Or perhaps you could emphasize the biggest benefit that you’re offering to a customer – so if saving money is the biggest benefit, highlight that in the headline. Could you write an engaging headline that emphasises the visual of your print ad? Is there a powerful fact or statistic that you could lead with? Be creative with your words – could you use alliteration or rhyme to make your headline look and sound appealing?

Experiment with your headlines and see what happens, you could also try out a few and let your colleagues vote on the best option. And remember, if you decide to go very creative with your headline to draw attention, you can always add in a succinct subheading to expand on or clarify your message if you need to.


Keep it concise

You have limited space with a print advert and you need to make sure you’re not overloading a reader with paragraphs and paragraphs of lengthy copy. If the copy is too long, your readers will turn off and not read on, and it’s likely to make the design of your print advert look messy and unappealing, which will only deter readers even more. Less is more. Say what you need to, but no more than that.

Similarly, try not to write long, wordy sentences or chunky paragraphs. Instead, work towards making your copy short and digestible, with more manageable sentences. Depending on the size of your advert and if you have space, you could also use subheadings or bullet points to help break the text up.


Focus on one message

As you have limited space, you also need to communicate your message clearly and effectively. By this, we don’t just mean the amount of copy that is on your ad, but the overall message that you’re trying to convey to your audience. In other words – what are you telling them, what product or service are you trying to sell, and what do you want them to take away from your copy?

Don’t try to cram in too many messages as it will be overwhelming for a reader and probably overwhelming from a design perspective too as the reader’s journey through your advert is likely to be muddled and unclear. Focus your copy down to what you really need and want to communicate with your audience. Identify the main goal and then write concise copy that really highlights that one goal specifically; everything you write should explain exactly what it is you’re selling and why the customer should care and choose you.


Write in a personable and conversational style

Even if your business has a more serious tone of voice or is aimed at a B2B audience, you still want to write in a way that is relatable to the reader.

Think about where your ad is appearing, if someone is reading a newspaper or a magazine they’re there for entertainment and interest, not to read a scholarly essay. So, try to be conversational. If you write in conversational tones, then people are more likely to relate to your print ad and read on, hopefully even taking the action you want them to.

Even though you can’t be as personal with print as you can with other channels like email where you know exactly what kind of person will be reading it, sounding human and personable still goes a long way.


Make sure your copy works in harmony with the visuals of your print ad

Visuals are very important in print advertising; the design of your advert really matters. Think about it, when reading a newspaper or magazine, you’d probably be very unlikely to pause and look at an advert that didn’t look nice and engaging. So, you need to make sure your design and your copy work in unison.

Consider how you can tie your copy and your image together. Could your copy reference the imagery or vice versa? Does your copy match your imagery in tone and style? Can your imagery play off your headline and body copy?

There are many ways to do this and it all depends on the advert you’re creating and how you want it to look, but it’s definitely worth bearing in mind how your copy will work hand-in-hand with your visuals.


Call to action

The final element of any successful print advert is a call to action. In other words, what you want your reader to do next, and how they go about doing it.

With digital marketing channels, such as email or digital display advertising, you can include a button in your artwork which allows you to be more creative and a little more vague with your call to action copy. However, for print advertising there isn’t a button for someone to click, they need to proactively go away and take an action. So, your call to action copy needs to convince that person to take the action and make it feel like an easy task by providing all of the right instructions.

Make sure your call to action is clear and concise, but that it still contains all of the relevant information a reader will need without making the copy look too long or overwhelming. Try and get your call to action message across in as few words as possible, whilst highlighting the benefit to the reader and including direct and active language that encourages action. For example, ‘Book today’, ‘Get in touch’, ‘Start your free trial’ etc.

Similarly, don’t include a long, wordy URL as people are very unlikely to sit and type it into a search engine. Instead, aim to use a short URL that is easier to read and easier to search for. All of these things will help to make your call to action succinct and persuasive.

Whilst the copy you use on your print advertising really depends on your business, your tone of voice and the message you want to highlight, hopefully, these tips will help you to break down the key elements of a print ad and tailor your writing towards print as its own unique marketing channel.

The main thing to remember is that you’re working with limited space on a print advert, so you really need to make clever use of your words and your messaging to get the most from them. Draw people in with an engaging headline and then deliver your chosen message with concise and well-structured copy that really sells the benefits of your business to a reader. And finally, remember to include a clear call to action featuring all of the relevant information needed to persuade your reader to go away and take the action you want.


Now that you know how effective print advertising is, why not partner with us? LOCALiQ is part of Newsquest Media Group, the UKs largest publisher of local news, with over 200 trusted brands, both in print and online. Visit our page on print advertising to see how we can help you achieve your marketing goals.

LOCALiQ State of Digital Marketing Report

State of Digital Marketing Report 2024

Exclusive insights and data from the marketing strategies of over 500+ UK business

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