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As we pointed out earlier when you’re just starting out, leaders in the design

field urge you to dump your dollars into print and electronic communication.

Even when you reach the stage where you can comfortably pay the bills and add

to your rainy day fund, the cost of advertising on television and radio or through

full-page ads in design sourcebooks is probably still beyond your reach.

However, you might want to investigate advertising costs associated with

smaller newspapers, regional publications, and local access channels. You may be

pleasantly surprised to find that these media fall within your financial reach.

Before signing on the dotted line for your first foray into advertising,

remember what you learned in “Promotional Mailings”—that when it comes to

advertising, frequency rules over impact. Tempted as you might be to borrow

money from Aunt Tillie and design a truly sensational impact ad, don’t give in

to that impulse. You’ll be further ahead if you opt for a smaller ad that runs more

frequently. Studies show potential clients need to see your name at least six times

before it registers with

How can you achieve frequency on a bare-bones budget? Good question.

Here’s where your negotiating skills can come into play. Say there’s a trendy

the weekly paper that comes out, one that attracts the readership you want to access.

What’s to stop you from setting up a meeting with the newspaper editor and

offering to barter your skills in exchange for free ad space? Or if you’re looking

to advertise to a particular ethnic market (for example, a Latino or African radio

audience), perhaps a specialty radio station will trade air time for a new logo and

ad design. It never hurts to try!design

On the other hand, if you’re trolling for a primarily local small business

market, think about a listing in the yellow pages. Review your options for listing

your services under multiple headings, such as Graphic Design, Logos,

Corporate Identification, and Web Site Design. For now, hold off on flashy

image ads, but do revisit the matter later when your business is stable and solvent.

Your most immediate concern in the early years of your business should be

about creating display ads that will prompt potential clients to contact you. Here

are some tips for writing ads that sizzle:

Guidelines for Writing Advertising Messages

1. Analyze your audience before you determine your exact message. (See pages


12. Aim for an informal tone. It’s okay to use contractions and punctuation to

increase your ad’s readability.

13. Grab attention. Create an arresting headline or a memorable visual image.

14. Make every word count. Use a thesaurus to locate the precise word that

delivers the most evocative punch. Write only what is necessary to convey your

15. Stress the benefit to your readers. Think about the headaches they have and

what relief you can offer. Use “you” and “you're,” not “we” and “our,” so that your

message is client-centered. Be concrete about the results you promise.

16. Avoid clichés. While you’re at it, toss out superfluous words or expressions,

such as “for the discriminating client” or “cutting-edge designs.”

17. Emphasize what distinguishes you from your competitors. Are you a recent

winner of a nationally known design competition? Do you have ten years’ experience?

Voted the Top Graphic Design Studio in your city’s recent poll? 18. Resist the temptation to promise the impossible. Be credible.

19. Specify a call for action. Direct them to send in the coupon, visit your Web

site, or call for a free initial

10. Include all contact information. Add your logo and/or tagline.

11. Make sure the ad is grammatically correct. Edit (and proofread) your copy

ruthlessly. Several

12. Take your ad for a test spin. Ask trusted clients to read it and give you

feedback. Listen to their comments; never argue or explain. Tweak