Space Advertising Secrets

The Success Margin

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Perhaps the best-known secret of the world’s most successful Internet marketers is this.

Applying the hard-won lessons learned in building successful marketing campaigns offline to the online marketing arena is the reason for the really big successes.

While, of course, everything offline does not apply exactly to online marketing, the major principles do.

As attractive as marketing on the Internet can be,I submit it’s a big mistake to limit yourself to any advertising medium, online or offline. Ideally, you use a combination of both.

Today I’m going to discuss offline space advertising.

It’s a great and profitable skill to actually sell products and services right off the page in magazines and newspapers.

In fact, you can make a huge fortune quickly once you learn the secrets of marketing utilizing space advertising.

But perhaps because there are several critically important things which very few people in the world know, almost all marketers who try space ads fail miserably.

Failed space advertisers tend to quit in disgust. And considerably poorer. And not necessarily wiser. Even worse, they simply don’t know what they did wrong.

Those who have followed my career know that for 21 years I was perhaps the most successful user of space advertising in the U.S. to sell products directly off the page.

Frankly, most people think my unprecedented space ad success is due completely to my copywriting skills. And while, of course, powerful copy plays a big part, there’s much
more to the picture.

Here are some basic tips regarding what I learned the hard way in over 20 years.

** The look of the ad **

The way most space ads are laid out, whether created by direct marketers or ad agencies, practically scream, “I’m an ad.” This is a huge mistake.

Consumers don’t like to read advertising as such.They do seek and enjoy information. Your ad should scream “Here is some valuable information.” That’s why all my ads have an editorial look.

Copy should be dense. Column length of body copy should be no wider than a good newspaper or magazine. A full-page ad should have 3 columns.

Photos when used should be mostly of people, not products. Products in an ad will immediately flag out that you may–God forbid–be selling something. This tends to turn people off. People should be looking directly at the camera. Photos should always, always be captioned.

Tip: Once again, for the umpteenth time, a great headline is critical to the success of the ad. Without a compelling headline, your ad doesn’t stand a chance of succeeding.

** The position of the ad **

In a magazine, a space ad should always be on a right-hand page. And it should be up front in the magazine, ideally on the first five right-hand pages. When a space ad is, for example, on page 177, your results will be extremely light. Reason? Most people are so busy they do not get a chance to read the entire magazine.

Ads on left-hand pages generally produce less than half the sales of a right-hand page. You must insist on a right-hand page. Or pull the ad.

In a newspaper, urgently request your ad also be above the fold.

** The media selection **

A great ad in the wrong media will bomb. You must choose magazines and newsletters carefully. In the U.S., Standard Rate and Data Service (SRDS) can be subscribed to or found in a good library. Every magazine and newspaper published and worth considering is listed. A good basic approach is to simply call publications in which you may be interested and request a media kit.

The media kit will contain all kinds of useful demographic information and a sample of the magazine.

Tip: Avoid publications which have no direct response or mail order ads. This indicates the readers are not accustomed to buying off the page.

** Cost of media **

Advertising rates are almost always negotiable. At my seminars I teach a negotiating technique which usually reduces advertising costs by 50% to 80%.

** Space ad copy **

The copy style, beginning with the headline, must be even more powerful and “tighter” than a sales letter, where comparatively you get away with murder. You must mercilessly cut any unnecessary words or sloppy phrasing.

** Legal factors **

While the following is not legal advice (I am not an attorney), I will give you a few practical ideas.

Once you seriously begin advertising in space, your activities are much more visible to everyone. This includes, of course, your competition. And government agencies.

Tip: More people will try to cash in on your success, “rip off” your successful ads. My ads have been ripped off by many marketers (the names of some of them would shock you).

A good protective step which costs nothing is to add to each ad you produce the copyright symbol © followed by the words Copyright, followed by the year and your company name. This helps to provide you common law copyright protection. Often a cease and disease letter from you or your attorney will prevent further violations of your copyright.

As to government agencies, if your ad is on the edge or actually breaking some law, you will undoubtedly hear about it sooner than otherwise.

Adding space advertising done correctly to your marketing program can easily put millions of additional sales in your bank account.

But, you must get the details right. As with all marketing, success is in the margin.

Your correspondent,

ed Nicholas

P.S. To see what my most successful ads look like,you can now get a copy of my monstrous 642-page book, HOW I SOLD $400 MILLION IN PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. It’s been recently updated. Each ad, direct mail piece, brochure and card deck is graded on a star system so you can immediately see just how well each one pulled. For more information you can go to://

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