How to create a display ad that sells itself

Simple solutions to a flawless campaign

How to create a display ad that sells itself

When you have been in advertising and marketing world for a number of years you will learn a few things you will learn a few undeniable ad creation process tips that are sure to propel your business far beyond your expectations. Here are a few effective small business advertising tips on how to create an appealing display ad.

Top 5 Ad Creation Process Tips from the Pros at MCA-RussellJohns

First, always double check the number in the ad to make sure it’s correct ( yes really! ) and second everyone thinks they are an expert.  Most people think “how tough could it be” to throw a few words together, with a call to action and a phone number to get calls? But even when you have been in the industry for a long time, there are still going to be hurdles in creating a visually compelling campaign that brings a return on the advertiser’s investment.

1) The KISS approach: Keep It, Super Simple.  

Too much stuff in too small of a space. Advertisers sometimes forget that they are paying for effective advertising and over stuff their ad. When there is too much to look at/read then the eye skips over it entirely.

2) Identify your focus and allow us the freedom to design around that.  

Using common/everyday items in an unexpected way can add visual detail to the ad. The ad creation process can begin by focusing on an unusual angle or view of a familiar item to inspire a different perspective. By adding tactile elements to your ads that draw the focus in and compel the reader to look and touch is a key way to increase the response rate. Studies show that because the ability to physically touch an ad increases the likelihood that a person may purchase as well as an increase in confidence, satisfaction, and reliability.  Among the key findings were that being able to touch a print ad is able to increase the audience’s belief that a brand is honest by  41%, with also an increase in purchase intent by 24%.   By adding elements to your ad that convey different textures, shapes, and colors you are able to create a more visually compelling ad that resonates with the viewer.

3) Don’t be afraid to use an “out of the box” approach.  

Clever use of typography and photography; Photoshop tricks like photo-manipulation; drop shadows/ embossing certain key elements, bright or bold color combinations, and enough contrast to allow the eye to easily focus on the key element.( Camika Winters, Creative Services Manager )

“Use everyday items in an unusual way. Everyone has seen a desk lamp, paper clips, push pins, and sticky notes. When the items are combined, (with effective lighting and shadows) they create a feeling of conspiracy. This goes a little further when you incorporate the handwritten font, for a personal touch. It creates a more intimate feeling like you have stepped in on someone’s personal space.”(  Michelle Fromhart, Russell Johns Creative Services Specialist)

4) Proof proof proof

Not proofreading content can be a huge pitfall. Bad grammar, incorrect spelling and poor punctuation can discredit the ad in spite of its visual appeal or overall message.   Not to mention an incorrect phone number can ruin an entire campaign!

5) Ask! Sometimes, there is a communication breakdown from client to sales to creative. The client may have difficulty verbalizing their idea or sometimes, they just don’t know what they want until they see it, but this doesn’t have to stall the ad creation process.

Michelle Fromhart

Michelle Fromhart Creative service specialist at MCA-RussellJohns


Asking your advertising team for some insight or giving the creative services department more room can really end up being a worthwhile risk.


“  One of our frequent clients, an author, started out booking small ads, and he slowly moved up to a full page.  He gave us an idea he had for a full page and then we ran with it and put bullet holes on it to make it look like an old Wanted poster.  Book sales really took off!”



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