Designing Ads? Remember The Reader

When you are creating advertising design for the newspaper, magazine or direct mail, what do you think might be one of the most important considerations?

If you answered readability, congratulate yourself! Fancy graphics may get the ad noticed, but readers must be able physically to read the words. This elementary concept sounds simple enough, yet is often ignored. If they can’t read it, they can’t understand enough about your offer to respond.

With todays’ sophisticated and virtually unlimited graphic computer options, it is easy for the graphic design advertising person to get sidetracked into believing what is on the screen looks like a true work of art!

Here are some advertising design questions to ask:

1. Want your ad to look different? Examine a few past issues of the publication where your ad will be appearing. Often publications create ads themselves (“pub-set”) and they can tend to look similar. See if you can spot them. Then try to develop a graphic look different than the other ads. Set your ad apart by using a different type face family that is easily read.

2. Is the advertisement legible? In their desire to be different and stylish, some of todays’ magazines make reading difficult.

Here are some common problems. White type on a light pastel background. Or light pastel type on a slightly darker background of the same color. Or colors that don’t contrast well when viewed in black and white, such as dark forest green type printed on a background of fire engine red.

It is better to go for the headline in big, lighter type against a much darker background.

3. Trying to cram too much information into a small space? One of the big problems is trying to fit too many words and concepts into a small space.

Here is where small space is actually your friend. It forces you (or the writer) to break down your ideas into simple words and simple concepts. Bear in mind that the goal of many advertisements is to solicit an inquiry, not to tell the entire story.

Often readers look to the details to figure out if they want to act. The type showing those details should be large enough to see and comprehend, even for those who have trouble with their vision. Type in color really needs to be 10 point, if not 11 to be read by the entire population.

With black and white newspaper ads, it is possible to use typefaces as small as 8 point because their comprehension is made easier by black type on newsprint. In magazines, black type as small as 4 points (on a white background) has been used. The clarity is astounding, but many people need a magnifying glass!

In conclusion, ignoring these three considerations can spell disaster for the reader who is trying to understand the advertising message. Good advertising design creates graphic effects that enhance the writers’ words and contribute to the overall success of the ad.

© 2006 Jon Sinish

This article may be reprinted and distributed as long as the resource information remains intact.

Calculating The True Cost Of Disaster Preparedness

Small-business owners who think preparing for a disaster is expensive should think again. Being unprepared-and losing everything-can mean paying a much higher price.

For example, in July 1996, the president and owner of Brookville Mining Equipment Corporation, Dalph McNeil, faced every business owner’s nightmare when the nearby creek crested at eight feet after a 24-hour downpour.

Expensive new machinery was covered in mud and a powerful current of water had swept away inventory and collapsed a 30-foot section of wall. The flood caused nearly $1.6 million in damages and losses.

After receiving a Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan, McNeil relocated his plant away from the floodplain and asked one of his employees to take on the additional responsibility of “safety coordinator.”

Besides doing quality assurance and control, the safety coordinator, according to McNeil, “runs monthly meetings with representatives of the company, making sure all the employees understand the early warning and evacuation plans, and the emergency procedures.”

“You can never be too prepared, as a small-business owner, for disaster,” McNeil remarked. “It’s something you don’t want to think about. How do you carry on business as usual, as quickly as possible, after a disaster? You have to be a bit of a fatalist, thinking in terms of the worst-case scenario for your business.” And while he hopes he never has to use the emergency plans he has in place, McNeil says he is now ready for anything.

Experts say preparedness starts with developing such an emergency action plan that is tailored to the company’s needs and addresses several disaster scenarios. The plan should include a timetable, budget, assignment of responsibility, prevention and mitigation steps to be completed, and a list of risks and hazards to the business. It’s also a good idea to encourage employee involvement in the process.

A communications strategy is a key post-disaster recovery strategy. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses for your insurance carrier, suppliers, creditors, employees and customers, the local media, utility companies, and the appropriate emergency response and recovery agencies should be updated regularly.

This list should be maintained by a key employee and a backup person. Appoint a spokesperson to get the word out that your business is still open to dispel rumors of business failure.

Making sure your insurance coverage is adequate is another issue. According to the Insurance Information Institute, a recently released survey conducted for the National Hurricane Survival Initiative (done by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research) reports that one in three residents in hurricane-vulnerable states said it had been three years or more since they reviewed their insurance coverage.

When shopping for insurance, think about property damage and the loss of revenue and extra expenses that occur when business is halted by a disaster. Business interruption insurance covers necessary expenses that occur while the business is shut down. Many business owners don’t realize that basic hazard insurance does not cover flood damage. Additional purchased flood insurance is essential; most of the over $10 billion in disaster loans made by the SBA after last year’s Gulf Coast hurricanes were for flood damages.

The National Flood Insurance program provides coverage to property owners. For more information, visit the Web site at www.floodsmart.gov. Flood insurance must be purchased 30 days before the disaster hits to be in effect.

Foreclosure Listings Home Buying Tips

Home buying is a big deal, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

People buy homes for many different reasons. Most buy for the sole purpose of living the American Dream, others use the home buying market as an investment tool, and some even use the margins inherent in real estate transactions as their daily income. Many homes are sold each year as foreclosure listings. These can be purchased for a significant discount over market value.

There are many factors one needs to consider when buying a house, whether to live in or as an investment opportunity through a foreclosure listings directory.

First and most important is do the research. Know what you’re buying.

One of the most important factors to research when buying a home is location. City, State, and, even neighborhood should all be considered carefully.

We’ve heard it said over and over again. “Location, Location, Location”

So why is location so important? Well, unless you plan to live in the house forever, eventually, you or your estate will want to sell it. You want the home to appreciate in value. You also want to be able to sell quickly. What you don’t want is a house for sale sign sitting in your front yard for years.

It doesn’t matter how wonderful your property is, you’ll have a very difficult time trying to sell your home for top dollar in a bad neighborhood in a reasonable amount of time. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad home. It simply means that there will be less demand. That’s not what you want when you decide or have to sell your house.

One needs to apply a neighborhood litmus test when buying a home. Things to consider include schools, nearby growth and development, and convenience. Local governmental agencies often list a school district’s rankings. This information can also be found on the Internet. If all else fails, real estate agents have access to this information and can be very helpful. The value of your home will appreciate much more if it is located in a neighborhood with good schools.

New construction nearby also plays a great role in improving the value of a house and should definitely be considered when buying a house. A neighborhood which is on the outskirts of a new development will benefit from the higher prices of the newly constructed homes. If, however, the neighborhood exhibits signs of decline, one should think twice before buying that house.

One other item to consider when looking for a house for sale is it’s proximity to places of convenience like shopping centers, transportation hubs, and parks. Remember, someone else will be house buying from you in the future. It will happen. And… They will be looking at the same factors at that time.

Business Basics for Catalog Retailers

Catalog retail is a world all it’s own. Many considerations that other retailers don’t have to deal with are of utmost importance to a catalog retailer. To name a few, the ordering process, warehousing and shipping must be streamlined for maximum efficiency. Maintaining a top notch inventory control and receiving department is also very crucial to business success. Above all, however, a catalog retailer must have a quality business phone system.

Considering the fact that the majority of customers will reach you over the phone, it is paramount to be able to not only handle call volume during peak times, but also to provide your customers service representatives with the features they need to do their job well. Business phone systems should be capable of not only putting your customers in touch with you, but also offer routing flexibility, voicemail and forwarding options for the administrative side of your company. Often, the difference maker for catalog retailers is not the products they sell, but the service behind those products. People who want to buy will have questions regarding an item that a simple picture and brief description will not answer. Most companies have service reps who take orders and product specialists who are familiar with the inventory.

It is essential for the product specialists to have access to a phone system that will accurately and easily allow them to receive and transfer calls between departments. After the initial contact by the sales representatives, the most common transfer of waiting customers will be to product specialists and hopefully back to the sales reps. A customer who is dropped accidentally during this transfer is likely to not call back. Additionally, customers who are made to hold for extended periods of time without an automated message thanking them for their patience are a primary example of lost revenue that could be curtailed by the proper business phone system. All in all, a well thought out business phone system is an integral necessity for any company, but it is especially important for catalog retailers.

Can accounts receivable factoring help your business grow?

Are you stuck with great but slow paying clients? It is interesting how your biggest asset (great clients) can also be your biggest liability. But that is how business is. And as an owner you must adapt.

Whether you like it or not, slow paying customers are here to stay. As a rule of thumb, commercial clients pay their bills in 30 to 60 days. And lately, the trend has been deteriorating. So, what do you do if you have slow paying receivables.

Many owners try to go to the bank to get a business loan. Not surprisingly, few business owners get business loans. As a rule, banks will only finance companies that have long and established histories. This is not your case if your company is new or emerging from tough times.

If your biggest challenge is that you cannot afford to wait up to 60 days to get paid by your customers, then the solution is accounts receivable factoring. Most commonly known as factoring, this type of financing eliminates the usual wait to get paid. It provides you with the necessary funds to pay suppliers, meet payroll and take on new business opportunities.

And how does factoring work? Simple:

1. You finish the work and send an invoice to your client. You also send a copy to the accounts receivable factoring company.
2. The financing company advances you 70% to 90% of the invoice (a small reserve is held to handle disputes, etc.)
3. You get the funds in 24 hours
4. As soon the customer pays the invoice to the financing company, they rebate the reserve (less a small fee)

As you can see, accounts receivable factoring can easily be integrated into your business, providing you with prompt invoice payments. Usually, funds are advanced within 24 hours of submitting invoices.

Accounts receivable factoring is easy to qualify for. Accounts can be set up in as little as 4 business days. As opposed to business loans, the main requirement for factoring is to do business with strong credit worthy customers. So if you do business with good commercial clients (or the government), be sure to add factoring to your business tool chest.