Whether you’ve been running advertisements for years or you’re only now thinking about purchasing your first billboard advertising run, it’s always helpful to take a step back and evaluate.
Marketing is all about iteration. Ask yourself questions like “Is my message clear?” and “how does my marketing collateral look compared to my competitors’ collateral?”
We’ve compiled six advertising design questions to help you focus your message and polish your marketing assets. Go through these questions. Be honest with yourself about the answers. Then, come back frequently to ask these questions again and evaluate whether or not you’ve improved. It can’t be said enough: marketing is all about iteration.
1. Is your message focused and clear?
There are probably many aspects of your business you’re eager to get across in any given advertisement. Low prices, high-quality products, great hours, unique offerings. Don’t try to stuff all of your value propositions into one ad!
Let’s say you’re doing grocery store advertising. Cartvertising dimensions aren’t huge. They’re not small, either, but you don’t want a couple of paragraphs of writing on there. So instead, focus your message into a few sentences. If there are multiple messages you need to get across, make different versions of the ad! It’s best to have a few focused, different versions running at once.
2. Do you have a clear and identifiable style?
Branding is essential. When you see the colors red and yellow together, you’re probably thinking about McDonald’s in some capacity. There are so many highly recognizable brands in the world. Nike is one of the most iconic. Their ads are always recognizable — that font, that logo. Content about persevering, striving, athleticism.
Now, let’s be honest. You’re not Nike. You don’t have an astronomical marketing budget. That’s fine, you can still create a consistent brand style. But, again, this is something that will take iteration. Hire a freelance designer or marketing professional if you need help. We won’t pretend it’s easy to create an instantly recognizable brand, but if you at least maintain a consistent style over time, people will know your brand when they see it.
3. Do your advertisements stand out among the competition?
Who else in your local industry is running advertisements? What do theirs look like? Find every version you can. Take photographs. Write notes. Do your research and get detailed! What do you like about their ads? What do you think is lacking?
Be very honest with yourself when you’re doing your research. Don’t just try to mimic what they’re doing. Figure out your own approach that will stand out. Focus on different value propositions. Buy advertising space on channels they’re not utilizing. Don’t see your competitors running shopping cart advertisements? Then you should be running those ads.
4. Do you have a clear call to action (CTA)?
What are your advertisements asking of your audience? Don’t just put a brief description of your business on a billboard and call it a day. For example, let’s say you own a restaurant. Mention daily specials and provide your hours and a phone number to inquire about said specials.
Advertisements absolutely must have a CTA. It’s not always direct, but it’s always there. Again, think about Nike. Of course, they can run an advertisement that’s basically just the slogan “Just do it” because everyone already knows it. What’s the CTA here, though? It’s to get up and get active — and to buy Nike shoes and clothing because they’re going to help you perform better when you “just do it.”
5. Are your ads honest?
You’ve undoubtedly heard people discuss the importance of truth in advertising. It’s almost a cliche, but for a good reason. Beloved brands are so beloved because there’s a level of trust between the consumer and the company.
Again, with Nike, their customers know they’re getting top-notch athletic wear. If they suddenly released a few lines of terrible, uncomfortable shoes that fell apart after three wears, they’d lose a lot of trust. Don’t lie! Don’t exaggerate! Your advertisements need to set expectations your products and services will uphold.
6. Do your ads look professional?
Competition is fierce these days. It’s easier to design good-looking marketing materials than ever before. There’s a vast population of freelance professionals. You don’t even need expensive tools like Adobe Photoshop — there are many free creation tools, like Canva.
Basically, you have no excuse to put out ads that don’t look great. It’s a waste of your time and money to do so. Instead, spend the time and or money to create some excellent, good-looking designs. It’ll pay off in the long run.
There are certainly more questions you should be asking yourself about your marketing strategy and your specific ads. Start with these and go from there. To summarize, it’s about messaging, design, and the competitive landscape. Your marketing materials don’t exist in a vacuum! They live at the intersection of your business, your competitors, and your audience.
Ask these questions. Answer them honestly. Make changes. Ask these questions again. Iterate, iterate, iterate — it’s the name of the game!