Creating a Print Advert For Your Small Business

An essential guide to creating a successful print advert for your small business

Creating a Print Advert For Your Small Business

Print advertising is one of the most common advertising channels used by start-ups and small businesses and creating a successful print advertisement can be relatively straightforward.

There are specific processes required in order to produce an effective advert so ensure you follow these crucial steps when writing an advert for your business.

Key elements for a successful print advert

Whether you choose to advertise in newspapers, magazines, trade journals or even local tourist brochures, all successful print adverts are based on a few essential elements:


This is a strong statement which should outline your business’ major selling point as it’s usually the first thing your reader will look at. Your headline should grab your reader’s attention or arouse curiosity by saying something of real interest.

Make your headline stand out by using large, bold font type and language that is easily understood, for instance using terms such as ‘cloud’ and ‘VoIP’ can be alienating for a reader who isn’t IT savvy.

Don’t use irrelevant jokes and don’t use a misleading headline as this will aggravate the reader when they find out what you are really offering.


This is optional but relevant visuals work well to reinforce the claim in your headline and demonstrate how your product or service operates. If you can’t afford a photographer or illustrator to provide images then you could use photos from stock image libraries such as Thinkstock and Getty Images which allow you to download high-resolution, quality photos for a flat fee.

Don’t just use an illustration for the sake of it; the image should reinforce and expand upon your advert headline.

Body copy

This is the main text used to persuade the reader to buy your product or service. Tone is of key importance to a successful advert so you should ensure that your advert is readable and in Plain English, and that is it sincere and not overly-confident.

The main body of your advert should expand upon your headline and use facts to back up your claim, explain the benefits of your product or service, warn your readers that they will miss out if they do not purchase what you are offering – use a limited time only discount for example

  • Tell your readers where to find out more, or how they can purchase your product or service
  • Close with a line or phrase which ties back to your headline

By law, advertisements need to be ‘legal, decent, honest and truthful’ and if you are in doubt the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) offers advice on how to comply with advertising rules and can vet your advert free of charge. You can contact the Copy Advice Service on 020 7492 2100.


Also known as a company slogan, this is a phrase which sums up your product or business philosophy; take Innocent Drinks’ tag-line for example: ‘Little tasty drinks’.

Call to action

These are the details needed to tell your reader what to do next e.g. ‘For more details visit’

Company details

It goes without saying that you should include your business name, address, phone number, email, web address and logo.

Know your business’ selling point

To engage customers you should be clear about what you’re selling in your ad and you must be able to offer attractive selling points.

Selling points frequently used by start-ups small firms are that they are specialists or experts in a certain field, locality and conveniency, great customer service, value for money and reliable and trustworthy.

If you have a USP (unique selling point) then you should emphasise this within your advertisement to make it stand out from your competitors. If your business offering isn’t unique to the market then you should create ads which present your business in a unique way.

Size, position and frequency of your advertisement

The way you format your business advert will depend on the publication it appears in. If you’re advertising your new store launch in the local paper then you should produce a simple ad which contains only the necessary details of location, opening date and times.

How often you run your advert will be dependent upon the type of publication you choose to advertise with and the costs associated per advert. If you advertise in a local paper you would usually look to repeat this for several weeks as costs will be relatively low and you can increase your reach by running it over a period of time. However, if you choose to create an expensive advert for a well known monthly magazine you shouldn’t need as many repeat ads.

You will also need to look into where you want your ad to feature as publishers will quote rates for different positions and sizes. Prime spots for adverts are near the front, right hand pages and top right of right hand pages.

Proofing your advertisement

Once you’ve written a few draft adverts for your business, ask yourself these five questions to gage whether you’ve got a successful ad:

  • Does the headline and illustration, if there is one, stop readers in their tracks?
  • Does the copy tell the reader something of interest?
  • Does the advert make an offer or a promise?
  • Does the advert encourage a clear call to action and explain what the reader should do next?
  • Are the selling points of your business outlined clearly?

If you’re struggling to answer these questions then you may want to look at hiring an advertising agency to produce an ad for your business that will match the style and content of your ad to your desired audience.

If you cannot afford an advertising agency, then you could look for freelance copywriters who will be able to work with you to write an advert.

Designing your advertisement

To get your business’ advert ready for publication it is key that you concentrate on the artwork used for your ad. Make sure you use clear fonts that will be easy to read and avoid mixing too many fonts or styles such as white on black (reversed out font). Make use of white space by avoiding clutter and unnecessary text as this will help to make your advert more readable.

When producing your final artwork you should consult with the advertising publication to find out which format and resolutions to provide copy in, whether you need to submit a hard copy and to ensure that they have received any images or photographs for use in your ad.

Publishing your advertisement

Before your advert goes to print, you should always check a proof copy to make sure you are happy with it as once you have signed off the proof any mistakes are wholly your responsibility. You should also ensure that you check a colour proof if your advert is in colour.

Print advertising can be a great way to make an impact and reach an audience that you might not get through online and social adverts. You can also be creative and, again, by using the right publication or print method you could increase your targeting a direct market.

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