Business Promotion Basics: Make Your Yellow Pages Ad Count

I work with graphics every day; it’s my job, to create visually pleasing pieces of âÂ?¦ well, stuff. Because of this, I’m constantly asked for advice on graphic design and the most popular question is, “How do I advertise inâÂ?¦”

Before I even get going, take a look at the Before and After advertisements in this article. They represent a “Before Professional Help” and “After Professional Help” perspective which begins to illustrate my point more clearly than words possibly can.

Have you taken a quick peek? Okay, now imagine yourself flipping through the phone book. I don’t know about you, but the sheer volume of businesses listed in the Yellow Pages is enough to frustrate me at times. The advertisement that catches my eye is, almost without exception, the one I’m most likely to consider. If an advertisement looks professional, it makes the viewer feel “safe”; they feel that the business is more reliable.

Advertising in the Yellow Pages

When you make the decision to invest in a Yellow Pages advertisement, you’re taking a big leap toward gaining new customers or widening your client base. Yellow Pages ads are one of the most effective forms of advertising available today – potential customers see your ad precisely because they are seeking the services or products you provide. Qualified leads were never easier to come by, and if you can grab their attention in a positive way, you’re going to get the chance to grab a new customer as well.

The first step you need to take is place a simple call to your local Yellow Pages and ask for ad specs. They will tell you how much it will cost to insert advertisements of specific sizes, which will be one of your first concerns. Jot down the size of advertisements you feel that you can afford, and you’ll be ready to take the next step.

Along the lines of cost, I strongly suggest that a larger portion of your marketing budget go toward this type of advertising campaign – but you do need to fit it into your budget.

Once you’ve decided the size of advertisement you can afford, you have two options left: Design the ad yourself, or hire a professional designer.

How to Design Your Own Yellow Pages Advertisement

Designing your own ads can save you a lot of money, but be forewarned that it will take some patience and research to get it done right. Professional designers usually have a load of stock photography and other resources at their disposal that can really boost the look of your ad, and oftentimes they have plenty of experience in creating the advertisements you’re seeking.

Don’t let this discourage you, though, if you’ve got the patience and interest in giving it a go. Here are the steps you need to take in designing your own yellow pages ad:

1. Decide the Size: By now, you should have decided exactly what size of advertisement you can afford to place. If you haven’t, do so now. Everything else you do here will be worked through the size of ad you have decided on.

2. Locate Art: Definitely tap into any resources you might have here. I have a great friend who is happy to supply really great illustrations for certain ads, and this saves me a ton of money and time because I don’t have to search through stock photo sites looking for the one image I want to use. If you’re pretty good at photography, see if you can come up with a few dramatic images to play with. When all else fails, take a look at a couple of websites providing free stock photos like www.sxc.hu. You want to gather a few images that you’re pretty happy with, so that you have room to play around with ideas.

3. Pick your Colors: I won’t get into color theory here, so we’re going to play this very simply. Instead of trying to come up with a bunch of colors that work well together (and which might not even reproduce correctly once printed), try to keep your colors to a minimum. Other than black, which is essential, see if you can’t narrow it down to one or two colors that you use only for impact.

4. Pick your Fonts: It’s really very easy to get excited by cool fonts (okay, maybe it’s just geeks like me that get excited by them), but just as we want to keep it simple with colors, we want to keep it clean with our typeface. So, narrow it down to two distinct fonts that you will use. One font can be the one you use for your company name or headings; this can be fairly fancy, as long as it is very easy to read. The other font needs to be as clean and clear as possible – verdana and arial are both excellent choices.

5. Open your Editor: Ideally, you should compile your advertisements all in a graphics editor like Adobe Photoshop. There are many reasons for this, but the most important one is that your work will look more professional when created this way. Start out with a new “canvas” in the dimensions of your decided-upon advertisement, and begin placing images and text.

The Professionals

Need some inspiration, or want a designer to do it for you? Don’t worry – sometimes, it’s impossible to do your own thing until you’ve surveyed what’s out there. The following websites prepare Yellow Page ads professionally and (thankfully!) offer up samples of some of their better work.

MaxEffect – www.max-effect.com – Okay, so I have some personal issues with the site itself (I think they hype things a bit too much) but beyond this, MaxEffect creates some really stunning work. They provide both a before-and-after gallery, as well as testimonials from previous clients.

Ad Revamp – www.adrevamp.com – This site’s sample ads show a truly impressive range of styles, all of which make a good impact. If you decide to hire a designer, this would be a great place to start; Ad Revamp provides free ad analysis, which can pinpoint a lot of problems with your current Yellow Pages advertising.

Effusion Design – www.effusiondesign.com – Click their “Print” button to find a nice range of advertisements in a variety of styles. These ads combine great color schemes with high-impact photography to really make the most of your space.

Ad FX – www.adfx.com – Probably my favorite site, not only because their work is top-notch, but because their website is so clean and no-fuss; yes, I’m picky about these things – but think about it âÂ?¦ if a designer’s website can’t impress you, what does that say about how your project will turn out?

Michaels/Wilder Group – www.michaelswilder.com – An impressive site put out by an advertising agency with an impressive track record.

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