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5 Ways to Create Effective Print Ads for Local Businesses

By Jenna Bruce on Tue, Jun 14, 2016 @ 01:00 PM |


Understanding how to create effect ads is one of the simplest ways to gain the advantage over your local competition. Whether you’re an established brand or a brand new business, placing ads in newspapers and magazines is a highly-effective way to promote your offer, gain loyal customers, and ultimately generate more revenue.

With this in mind, here are 5 ways you can begin creating effective print ads today.

Have a Clear Message to ShareHave a Clear Message to Share

Your first step to print ad success is to know exactly what information needs to be conveyed in your audience. Who are you targeting? What are their pain points? Why is your offer the solution to their problems? When you have these answers, then, and ONLY then, can you begin creating your ad.

Choose Your Imagery Wisely

You’ll need to do some thinking on whether or not your ad should include a visual and, if so, whether it should be a vector graphic or a photograph. Graphics in vector format are great for fun, entertaining print ads whereas photos are most often used to set a specific tone and put the reader in the right frame of mind for the message. Sometimes images work better when the goal is to show off your product. If you need help determining which visual (and we do recommend your print ad include a visual) to use, look through some local papers and your favorite magazines to get inspiration.

Use Only High-Quality Images

While we’re on the topic of images, it’s important to understand the difference in dots per inch, or DPI, between web design and print design. The standard DPI for web graphics is 72, while print ads require a DPI of 300. It’s very important you only use high-resolution graphics and images when designing your print ads. Equally important is considering the type of media you plan on printing your ads on before you move on to the final renders of any images you wish to use.

Mind your fontMind Your Font

When it comes to typography, font really matters. Many fonts are easy to read in either medium, but a handful of fonts have been specifically designed for print media. Going with one of the following will help your ads avoid ink bleed, especially on absorbent papers.

  • Century Gothic, Verdana, and Helvetica because of their overall versatility.
  • Times New Roman and Garamond over Helvetica thanks to their serifs, according to informal testing by Drew Eric Whitman in his book, Cashvertising.

Remember who your target audience is when choosing a font style. Some readers, like the elderly, may need enlarged or bolded fonts, usually plain ones like Arial or Times New Roman.

When in doubt, it’s always best to go with serif for print ads because it makes for an easy, quick read. Remember, when you put some effort into making your print ad as legible as possible, you greatly expand its reach.

Use a Call to Action

While Coca Cola may be able to afford national TV and radio spots that do little more than keep the brand top-of-mind with consumers, small, local businesses have to be savvy with their ad spend. Print ads are all about getting a direct response from prospects NOT about brand awareness.

Knowing this, you’ve got to use a clear call to action in your ads and tell prospects exactly what you want them to do. If you want to get more feet in the door, provide a coupon and tell prospects to bring it in for a 15% discount. If you want readers to call and speak with a sales rep, tell them that clearly and provide your 1-800 number in big, bold font.

Don’t leave it up to prospects to figure out what they should do – tell them.


Local businesses who want to thrive and get a leg up on their competition should definitely consider adding print to their integrated marketing strategy.

Download the CMO's Guide to Integrating Print and Digital Media

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