Following on from my recent posts on how to make your press advertising more impactful, I thought a very brief post would be in order today taking the opposite approach – what are the ’10 deadly sins’ you need to make sure to avoid in your press advertising?

Here they are in all their glory – avoid them at your peril!

  1. An uninspiring headline/ visual combination that fails to convey a powerful and relevant benefit.
  2. Lack of clear and powerful branding
  3. An inability to quickly convey what product or service is actually being promoted.
  4. Dull, unappealing visuals.
  5. Clichéd headlines or images that fail to engage – ‘visual wallpaper’.
  6. Cluttered ads with several small images, and with multiple parts of the ad simultaneously fighting for the reader’s attention. This can be overwhelming and confusing, with the reader not knowing which part of the ad to look at first.
  7. Lack of a clear hierarchy and flow throughout the ad – where the reader is unsure which section is intended to follow on from which.
  8. A lack of a prominent response mechanism.
  9. An unclear or weak ‘call to action’ (for direct response ads aimed at encouraging a specific response).
  10. Dense sections of copy within ads that are placed in general interest media. Such ads will be hard to read and will therefore appear off-putting to the casual reader (unless they are already very interested in your particular product category).

And a bonus one which often irritates:

 11.  Small-type. Text that is below 12-point size can be unenticing and difficult to read for many people.

Whilst these are the most common mistakes I see in press advertising, I’m sure you have many other ‘pet peeves’ – please do let me know below which ones you see most often…

If you’re interested in exploring this area in more detail (together with relevant examples), you might like my recent book ‘Successful Marketing Communications’.  If you have any thoughts or comments, do drop me a line below.

Written by Rob H

I’m a Chartered Marketer with over 20 years’ experience working in digital and offline marketing communications across the financial services, leisure, education and technology sectors – most recently working for a large financial services organisation, managing the acquisition marketing communications team. I gained an MSc in Strategic Marketing from Cranfield Business School in 2005 and the CIM Diploma in Digital Marketing in 2012. In 2012 I became the part-time course tutor at the Cambridge Marketing College for the CIM diploma in ‘Principles of Mobile Marketing’ – also authoring the accompanying Mobile Marketing study materials for the college. In March 2017 I published ‘Successful Marketing Communications‘ (available on Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks), which has become recommended reading for delegates at the IDM (Institute of Direct Marketing). When I’m not knee-deeping in reading/ writing the latest marketing communications articles I enjoy outdoor swimming and anything involving snow – with my goal for next year being to combine the two…

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