Guest Column: Growing your business: Print ads that drive sales

Editor’s note: The following is an unsolicited testimonial about the advantages of advertising in The Rock River Times (TRRT). While the author of the column, Paul Gorski, and TRRT Editor and Publisher Frank Schier have informally discussed ad revenue approaches for some time, Gorski submitted this column on his own and is not being compensated in any way by TRRT for his column.

By Paul Gorski

Enter to win a dinner for four at a local fish fry. Simply read this article, find the coupon code at the bottom of the article, and either write this newspaper or e-mail: by April 11 with: 1) the coupon code, 2) your full name and address, and 3) your opinion of the article. The winning name will be drawn at random from the entries and the name published in the April 18 edition of The Rock River Times.

That’s a real offer above. Read on to learn more.

I used to write ad copy, and I still help print and web professionals create ads and sell ad space. Print advertising, especially in local weekly newspapers like The Rock River Times, can be very effective in driving new and repeat sales. Even in a weak economy, customers respond well to print ads that: 1) have a clear, benefit-driven headline, 2) a specific offer that your audience wants, 3) a time-limited offer that requires the customer to take an action, 4) state how to take advantage of the offer, and 5) have a central graphic in color, usually lighter colors.

This article has a benefit-driven headline (“drive sales”), an offer for a free dinner, a deadline to take advantage of the offer, and lists how to enter to win the dinner. It is only missing a central graphic and full color. But if you’ve made it this far, the offer worked.

Why the coupon code? To track the source of the ad and measure its success.

Why share this information with the general public? Because well-designed print ads can help create new business, support a fund-raising effort, or promote a specific community event.

Print ads in weekly newspapers also have “staying power” as they’re seen for an entire week by a variety of potential customers. I strongly recommend you use color in your ad and get professional design help.

Take a look at the ads in this paper and online. (Yes, there are coupon offers for local businesses online.) The ads with color and graphics really pop out and grab your attention. Once the color catches your eye, you need a clear offer or benefit to your customer. Somewhere in Rockford is a restaurant offering discounted meals, a mechanic with a brake special, or a non-profit trying to raise money for a good cause. All can benefit from well-crafted print ads.

Much of the commentary in the press these days is “support this” or “fight that.” I thought it would be instructive to show you how to deliver your message so you achieve your desired goal, whether it is a sales or social goal. One of my goals is to introduce our winner to a Friday fish fry at the Lithuanian Club as my guest. So, the coupon code is: 44Fish.

Thank you, I look forward to your comments and entries.

Paul Gorski is a Cherry Valley Township resident and a former Winnebago County board member.

From the April 4-10, 2012, issue

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