Make effective ads for small businesses - women looking at ad on smartphone for investments

Small business owners can benefit greatly from an advertising campaign. A well-conceptualized ad can increase awareness about your business, generate interest in your products and services, and initiate a purchasing decision from a consumer.

Whether you opt for paid ads via social media channels and search engines or use traditional methods such as flyers and Point-of-Purchase materials, the rule in creating an effective ad remains the same.

It’s all about the content.

The most successful ads appear simple but it took time and resources to get them right. A lot of thought and strategy goes into creating a brilliant ad. It may not happen overnight, but the time and effort will be worth it.

Here are 7 simple tips on how to create an effective ad for your business.

1. Define Your USP

What makes your business different from your competitors? Why should customers choose your products or patronize your services over other companies in the industry? 

The answers to these questions should be provided in your USP or Unique Selling Proposition. The purpose of the USP is to convince consumers why your business is the number one choice; the only choice they can make.

When creating a USP, keep in mind that consumers have a short attention span. You have fewer than 6 seconds to catch their attention and win them over. Therefore, the USP must be short and concise but powerful in its message. 

Here are a few tips on how to make a powerful and compelling USP for your advertisement:

  • The USP must be framed as a proposition to the consumer. Don’t just string a few words to make a sentence about your products. The USP should propose why the consumer needs to buy your product by stating its benefits; how its purchase can solve his problems or address his needs.
  • As implied, the proposition must be unique to your business. The competition cannot offer it or does not have it. For example, Domino’s Pizza’s “30-minutes or it’s free” USP was unique to the pizza chain.
  • The USP must appeal to a wide audience or diverse market segments. A good example would be Anacin’s USP of “Incredibly fast relief”. Who doesn’t want fast relief from a headache? 

On a piece of paper, write down all of the things that make your products and services different or unique from your competitors. From this list, identify the qualities that make you stand out from everyone else. 

It takes time to create a powerful USP – don’t rush the process. Brainstorm a few concepts and select the one that resonates best with your customers. 

2. Present a Generous Offer

If you want the ad to attract the interest of consumers, present them with a generous offer. It should be enticing enough to stop the consumer in his tracks and read your ad from top to bottom. 

Here are a few examples of exciting offers that may get the consumer’s attention:

  • Free Items
  • Discounts of 50% or higher
  • Bundled Packages
  • Free Shipping
  • Limited-time-only Trial Period
  • Buy One-Take One Offers
  • Items that have limited availability

People know a good deal when they see one. So make sure your special offer is the first thing the consumer will see on your ad. 

Lastly, be transparent about your promotions. The ad copy should include the mechanics of your campaign. The details must be easily seen and read. Consumers don’t like to have to read the fine print. 

3. Address the Customer’s Needs

Describing the features of your products in the ad is not the same as explaining its benefits for the end-user.

For example, you are in the business of selling pet supplies. One of your products is a dog collar with a GPS tracker. Its benefit to the customer is that with the dog collar, you will know exactly where your pet is when you are away from home.

Consumers who are always traveling or away for long hours in a day will find this product very enticing.

If you have 5 items listed in your ad copy, describe the main feature of each product and explain how it will address the needs of the consumer. By doing this, you can attract a wider demographic of consumers who see the value of your products and services. 

4. Create a Sense of Urgency

You might go to a grocery store for the purpose of buying a toothbrush but end up going home with 100 rolls of toilet paper. 

The wife will ask you “Why did you buy so much toilet paper?” 

And your response would be, “They had it on sale at 50% off for today only. I couldn’t pass off the chance to save some money.”

When you create a sense of urgency, you trigger an emotional response in the consumer that if he doesn’t buy now, the opportunity will pass him by. 

For example, if you own a pizza restaurant, you could create a sense of urgency in your flyer with this line “Today Only! Buy 1 Party-Sized Pizza and get the Second Party-Sized Pizza for Free!”

Chances are, people who get a flyer in the mall will put off their plans and head off to your restaurant right away. Don’t be surprised if you see a long line of hungry customers waiting patiently outside your restaurant. 

5. Include Testimonials

Consumers will tend to patronize brands they can trust. However, it takes time and consistency to build trust for your brand. One of the fastest ways to encourage consumers to trust your brand is through the use of testimonials.

Testimonials are powerful influencers. They are viewed as a customer’s seal-of-approval. That is why many consumers look for product reviews before choosing a product or a service provider.

For example, if you offer general cleaning services, include testimonials from customers who were happy with your service. Make sure you get their approval and if possible, include their picture.

Don’t use testimonials that only indicate the first name of the customer such as “Donny S.” or “Amanda K.” Those testimonials can appear spurious and do not have the same power as testimonials that present the full name and the picture of the customer. 

6. Use Eye-Catching Images

Which one would generate more interest – a text description of a hamburger or a high-resolution image? Consumers are highly visual. They would be more attracted by an image of the product than just text. 

If you need more convincing, here are 3 statistics that prove the value of adding images to your content:

  • 90% of all information that is processed in the brain is visual.
  • The brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text information.
  • High-quality images can increase engagement levels by 65%.

Don’t settle for stock images. Original images are unique to your business and will help build trust with your customers. Be sure to be authentic with your use of images.

Going back to our example, the photo of the hamburger that you will use for your ad should be what customers get when they order from your restaurant. 

If you post an image of a thick, juicy patty in the ad and customers get served paper-thin patties at your restaurant, the possible social media backlash will be bad for business. 

7. Give Complete Contact Details

So far you’ve composed a powerful USP, explained the benefit of your product, added a generous offer, incorporated a sense of urgency, posted client testimonials, and attached an amazing, high-resolution image. 

Unfortunately, you forgot to give complete contact details. 

All of the hard work may fail to deliver results because customers do not know where to find you. 

We have come across many wonderful ads that become disappointments because we did not have any idea on how to find the business. 

When creating an ad, the following contact information should be included:

  • Website URL
  • Business Address
  • Email Address
  • Business Contact Numbers

If possible, include a site map that will help interested parties find you right away. Failure to include complete contact details in your ad will result in foregone sales and a tarnished business reputation. 


According to a 2017 survey by Clutch, 90% of respondents said that advertisements influenced their decision to purchase a product or patronize a service. 

The same survey shared the results that TV and broadcast video advertising were cited by 60% of the respondents as the most influential medium. Print, online, and social media followed closely behind at 45%, 43%, and 42% respectively. 

These numbers prove that advertising is a worthwhile investment to help your business gain traction and increase its potential to earn more revenues. The key to creating an effective copy lies in its content. 

It should address the needs of the consumer right away and remove all doubt that choosing your business over the competition is the only decision he can make. 

If you are thinking of having an ad campaign for your business, give us a call and we will do the planning for you. 

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your community. 

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