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Small Ads Work If They’re Good

This article by Teena Chandy was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on May 12, 1999. All rights reserved.

When budgets are very small and must be cautiously spent,"

Ken Eichenbaum writes in his new book "How to Create Small-Space

Advertising That Works," "small-space newspaper may become

the only advertising strategy. Yet because of the nature of the medium,

its pitfalls and prerequisites, it is a medium that must utilize every

available tool in graphics, copywriting, placement, and planning to

insure its optimum success."

"Luck is on our side," Eichenbaum continues. "The newspapers

are filled with small-space ads that wallow in abject mediocrity.

They are written and drawn by the uninspired. In this dull environment,

anything that’s good becomes great."

Eichenbaum is co-founder and past president and chairman of ADS Inc.,

a multi-million dollar agency. He is also a senior partner in UNICOM,

a firm that specializes in corporate identity and communication. The

154-page advertising guide for agencies, advertisers, and publishers

includes 95 pages of small-space ads from advertisers all over the

country. Cost: $34.50, plus $2.50 shipping and handling, from Litterati

Publishing, 9470 North Broadmoor Road, Milwaukee, WI 53217.

"In small space newspaper advertising, the odds are stacked heavily

against the advertiser," writes Eichenbaum. "Even if the space

rates for your paper are comparatively low, the opportunity for a

profitable outcome is risky unless you take special steps to improve

your chances."

Space is a function of money, he continues. "The objective for

the advertiser, then, is to manipulate those universal elements that

contribute to the success of small space ads in such a way that they

combine to yield optimum value and, in the process, alter and improve

the sales formula in your favor."

Typically, the small-space ad appears in a sea of clutter, says Eichenbaum.

Other small space ads, larger ads, editorial copy and headlines, photographs,

and other material vie for the reader’s attention. "The challenge

is to create an easily discernible island of information amid this

sea of clutter," says Eichenbaum. "To write and design a small-space

ad that is different, stands out, and yet is thoroughly understandable,

provocative, and compelling."

Besides good graphics and good copy Eichenbaum points out some other

factors that can be used to tip the odds in the advertiser’s favor:

Market Segmentation: Pinpoint your position requests for

the greatest potential result on investment based on valid readership


Increase Ad Size: Going from a less-than-quarter-page

size yielding a 12 percent readership rate to a quarter page might

generate as much as a 21 percent more readership.

Sense of Urgency: If you are making a limited offer, put

a specific time limit or a quantitative limit (to the first 100 customers)

on it. The reader will then more closely examine the copy so as not

to lose out on an offer that has such obvious restrictions.

Use of Color: A test conducted revealed an increase of

45 percent readership for one-color ads and 75 percent for full color


Use of Coupons: In research where 71 no-coupon ads and

28 coupon ads were scored, in all categories and in all editorial

contexts, coupon ads fared better than the others.

The Famous Spokesperson: Using a spokesperson who is either

well known in the community or a celebrity can improve readership

or at least heighten recognition. Though research has indicated that

most readers are sophisticated enough to know this sort of endorsement

is paid for, their association with your enterprise can be valuable

as a mnemonic aid in recognition.

Advertising and merchandising entrepreneurs must look hard for

ways to translate facts and figures into novel and spirited ideas,

writes Eichenbaum, for "ideas that transform lookers into readers,

and readers into customers. In the entire world of commerce, there

are few initiatives that can inspire more self satisfaction."

— Teena Chandy

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