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Create Interest for a More Effective Yellow Pages Ad

Part 2 of a 4-Part series on Yellow Pages ad design In part 1 of this 4-part series, we discussed attracting attention to your Yellow Pages ad. Today, in part 2, we are looking at a closely related topic - creating interest. As a Yellow Pages user scans the pages of a particular heading in the directory - their eyes are jumping from one focal point to another. They are also filtering what their eyes are seeing based on criteria that are both conscious and subconscious. The content of the focal point that you design in your ad to momentarily stop their eye needs to get caught by this filter and immediately create enough interest for the user to want to stay and dig a little deeper into the rest of your ad.  The Scan­ An example of the filtering process mentioned above would be similar to someone scanning a list of names looking for their own. The human brain is so powerful - we don’t need to read every name because in our mind we have a set of criteria or filters defining what our name looks like. We can quickly identify our name from very long lists arranged in random order. This is mostly a conscious process. But what happens if you scan across something in the list you were not consciously looking for, like the name of a good friend. Your mind actually identifies the name based on subconscious criteria and we find our conscious self surprised by the name we just discovered. This is why, in addition to attracting attention, creating interest is so important. Someone could be scanning the pages with your brand in mind or your particular service, but if the subconscious filter grabs onto something in another ad before your brand or service is found then your chances of getting that phone call just dropped dramatically. The Logo Trap One of the traps many companies fall into with their Yellow Pages ads is making their name or logo the overwhelming focal point of their ad. They are proud of their name and their business and want to shout it from the mountain tops. They place it top and center and make it the largest item in their ad. Unfortunately if the Yellow Pages user is unfamiliar with your company or brand, there is little chance of a connection, either conscious or subconscious. Leveraging Your Headline If you are using a headline (I highly recommend it), it should be between 5-8 words long and occupy about 10-25% of the ad. It needs to be concise. Avoid using unnecessary adjectives and keep the message simple and clear. The message is critical and needs to relay the benefit of choosing your company to the Yellow Pages user. This is not an easy task and should be given ample thought. Many times when I ask clients for the benefits of choosing their company I get a list of products and features. Your products and features may be impressive but what people really want to know is how those products and features will benefit them and make their lives easier or better. The headline also needs to differentiate you among your competitors. In many industries this task is nearly impossible. Sometimes companies may be limited by government regulations or sometimes the technology or service has limitations. In these cases you may be able to create a perceived difference by using a unique approach to communicating the benefit or your brand. Service or support differentiation is another approach but has to include a reason to believe such as a guarantee, promise or customer testimonial to be believable and effective. Leveraging Your Image The image or photo in your ad should be unique, realistic (not staged looking), relevant to the category and also must support the headline. It should display the solution to the problem driving the user to the Yellow Pages. Reflecting the problem back at the user generally reduces the effectiveness of Yellow Pages ads. You can create additional interest in your ad by highlighting special offers like discounts, coupons, free services or free information. These are most effective when they are given special treatment like bold text or reversed in a circle, starburst or other interesting shape. We’ve attracted their attention and now we’ve got them digging in to the content of your ad. In part 3 we will be looking at answering a need with the general content of your ad.  Are people digging in to the content of your Yellow Pages ad? Leave a comment and let us know.

3 Keys to Attract Attention with Your Yellow Pages Ad

Part 1 of a 4-Part series on Yellow Pages ad design    In the Yellow Pages environment, attracting attention with your ad is almost as important as having your phone number in the ad. All of your competitors are right there on the page next to you - if Yellow Pages users don’t look at your ad… there is no way they are going to call. Attracting attention really does come down to seconds or fractions of a second. The human brain has a tendency to want to make sense out of whatever the eyes are looking at and searches for items that are visually prominent, familiar, different, or interesting. Here are three key factors for making sure your YP ad is attracting attention. Focal Point Many Yellow Pages ads have what I call ‘sameness syndrome’ where everything in the ad is similarly sized and spread out so the entire ad is just a pool of ‘blah’.  Or they try to make so many things stand out that the result is pure chaos. To attract attention, your ad needs to have a strong visual focal point. A focal point uses design principles like size, contrast, color, shape, etc. to create a single point or area of focus. Ideally, your ad’s focal point will be strong enough to not only stand out within your ad, but also make your ad the focal point of the two page spread your ad occupies. Obviously, the size of your ad can have an impact on this – it is much easier to attract attention with a full page ad than an eighth page ad. Headline and Image The most common items to use as a focal point are a prominent headline, an engaging image or photo, or a paired combination of both. Your headline should be between 5-8 words long and occupy about 10-25% of the ad. Your image or photo needs to be visually simple. No more than three people in the photo. Avoid distracting backgrounds and crop in to the sweet spot of the photo or area of most interest. Ideally your image will occupy 25-35% of your ad. White Space As opposed to magazine advertising and depending on the size of your ad, generous use of white space in the Yellow Pages may be impractical. Content is the main driver of an effective Yellow Pages ad. Therefore the goal is more to provide adequate breathing space to the elements of your ad. Breathing space means leaving enough space between elements so they are clearly separate and do not run together. Without adequate breathing space your ad will appear cluttered and difficult to scan and read – not very inviting to someone searching for information. In addition to these key factors, you want to use a professional-quality logo that is easily identified in the ad. People want to know they are dealing with a legitimate business that will be around if they have any issues with the product or service. You also want to make sure your information is formatted as short bullets and not paragraphs. Bullets are easier to scan and understand quickly. Paragraphs may look like too much work and Yellow Pages users may move on to your competitor’s ad. If you follow these 3 keys to attracting attention you are off to a great start in developing an effective Yellow Pages ad. In part two we will be looking at a closely related topic - how to create interest in your ad once you have attracted the user’s attention.  How good is your Yellow Pages ad at attracting attention? Leave a comment and let us know. (Want to be notified when the next part of this series is posted? Just enter your email to the right and click ‘Notify Me’.)  

5 Signs You May Be A Back Seat Designer

  With the economy tightening everyone’s belts, more and more often the content development and copywriting for marketing and communication’s material is being left to marketing directors, marketing and communications managers and sometimes sales managers. While ideally most projects should be written by a professional copywriter - when the ball is passed to you, are you micromanaging your graphic designers? And becoming what I like to call a “back seat designer”? Below are some signs that you may be designing from the back seat. 1. I often edit my content after seeing the first draft layout. ­­ In any marketing or communication piece the message and supporting content is the framework that the designer will use to build the design upon. He will make decisions based on the amount and type of content to make the message as impactful as possible. If you are making major changes to the content after the piece has been designed, the designer will have to re-evaluate and redesign the piece costing you time and money - and frustrating your designer at the same time.  2. I’ll know it when I see it  The designer’s job is to design the piece so it effectively communicates the content. You should give the designer direction on the look and feel you want. If you’re working with an inexperienced designer or you’re not totally clear, yourself, on the direction you’d like the piece to take, then a formal written brief outlining the objective, target audience, and desired look and feel are a necessity. You might also ask the designer up front for two or three rough drafts or hand sketched thumbnails so you can nail down the look and feel before formatting all of the content and design elements. A more streamlined approach may be to simply provide the designer with examples of other pieces that have a similar look and feel AND similar content to the piece you are working on.  3. I give very specific design and layout feedback  Your feedback on a piece should not include detailed layout instructions like changes in point sizes of type or specific size or position changes of content elements. The more specific you are in your feedback over time, the more the designer is going to start doing exactly what is asked for and not look for the creative solutions that can make a piece great. The best feedback is more general in nature like “This section seems crowded to me” or “I want this item to be more dominant on the page”. Be careful not to give conflicting feedback like saying the piece is too crowded while adding additional content. Or asking for multiple items to stand out or be dominant. 4. I need more than three revisions to get it right  Designers realize that developing a piece is a collaborative effort and expect some revisions. However, if you give good direction and polished content on the front end you will rarely need even three revisions. One helpful approach is to give the designer some pieces of content that are optional. That gives them flexibility in their design. Sometimes content is too much for one page and not enough for two. A nice optional side bar item may be just what they need to make it all work. If you have no idea how long your written content should be, have the designer mock up the layout using “dummy text” and provide you with a rough word count. A good rule of thumb for a marketing/promotional piece with images, charts and branded elements would be between 250 and 350 words per letter size page. For more text heavy technical/instructional pieces you can push it to 450-500 words per page.  5. The final piece looks completely different than the first draft If the final piece looks completely different than the first draft then there are some major issues in your communication and trust with the designer and their expertise. You need to work with your designer to develop processes that better communicate the purpose of the piece and discipline yourself to refine and edit your content BEFORE sending it to the designer. In the end we all have the same goal. To create a piece that effectively communicates the message, compels the reader to take action or influences their opinion and looks great. If you have the benefit of working with an experienced designer, then trust them to do the designing and keep your hands out of the pot. If your designer is less experienced, then nothing is more valuable than clear and open communication and a pat on the back for a job well done. And if you are really having trouble refining and editing your copy, ask another member of your marketing staff to take a look at it. A fresh pair of eyes just might result in some great ideas for making it better. So how do you rate? Are you a back seat designer? Please leave your comment below.