20 Simple Techniques to Improve the Performance of Your Ads

Lessons learned over the years

You have 3 to 5 seconds to get their attention before they move on to something else. That’s it. No second chances.

Believe it or not, it takes just a few seconds for the average consumer to read an ad or direct mail piece and decide if they want what you are offering. Safe to say, with that small window of opportunity the ad design and content had better be good.

After several years in the business, Valpak has honed the art of the ad by working with graphic designers, conducting consumer eye tracking research studies and monitoring response to literally millions of print ads. And from all that experience, we know for a fact that there is an art…and a science… to creating an ad that gets results.

To help you, here’s a short summary of some of the things we know about how to design your offers to get results. We’ve summed up what we’ve learned about the right Offer, Headline, Image and Information for your next ad (no matter where it appears.)


The offer is what we sometimes call the call to action (or, what we want the consumer to do after seeing the ad) so we use the terms interchangeably.

1. Put your best offer in the top right corner because that’s the place that gets noticed first

2. Place the offer vertically, rather than burying it from side to side across the bottom

3. If you have a qualifier to your offer, put it on the ad, in smaller text under the offer itself.

4. Take advantage of consumer learned behavior and use dashed borders around the call to action – consumers recognize this as a coupon or promotion instantly.



5. Always focus on the consumer WIFM (what’s in it for me) factor, especially when writing the headline. Use the headline to immediately tell the consumer what’s in it for them.

6. Don’t be too cute or funny with your headline. You only have a few seconds to get the message out so you might not want to risk it.

7. Keep the headline brief – eight words or less.

8. Avoid all capital letters in headlines. Not only is it harder to read, but it comes across like you’re shouting.

9. Don’t use fancy script text for headlines. They’re too hard to read at a glance.



10. Show people using the product you’re advertising. If you have many products, then feature the top seller.

11. Use photographs not illustrations. Research has shown that photography increases memory by 26% over artwork.

12. If you don’t have an appropriate image, ask your marketing partner to get one for you. Stock photography works better than amateur photography, especially when it comes to food!

13. Prominently feature the phone number if you are promoting appointments.

14. Use one large appealing photo rather than several smaller ones.


Contact & Other Information

15. If you are a brick and mortar, make the map more prominent than the other contact information.

16. Less is more. Keep copy brief and impactful.

17. Avoid clutter – limit boxes and bursts.

18. Leave empty white space between groups of information to show where they belong.

19. Don’t use dark background colors on the offer. It makes it harder to read and obscures the value.

20. Let a professional design your ad. Let them put their schooling and expertise to work for your business.


I could go on and on (after all, Valpak has learned a lot during our 40+ years in the business). But these are 20 simple and straight-forward rules that can help make your ad pack a punch. What other techniques work for you? Anything you’ve tried before that doesn’t work?

Click here to get a free MP3 “How to Grow Your Business using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Youtube”


David Domos developed WhyBuyFromYou.com to provide content to help small businesses develop their branding, marketing and sales systems. In the past he held key leadership positions for a fortune 500 company. That company led the market in both sales and brand awareness and David was a significant contributor to its growth. David has been on the Amazon.com best seller list in their Direct Marketing, Communications and Entrepreneurship categories. He is a student of sales, marketing, branding & small business growth, continually focusing on the reason people buy. Follow him on Twitter @WhyBuyFromYou.

Posted in Uncategorized
Practical Branding Do It Yourself Tools and Techniques For Building A Powerful Brand Image By David Domos
David Domos Best Selling Author



Bad Behavior has blocked 216 access attempts in the last 7 days.