How to Create Ads That Sell

current customer sales

Whether you use print or digital marketing, the goal of your advertising goes beyond awareness.  As a small business, you must create ads that sell. In other words, they must compel them to act — call, visit, click — in order to generate new or recurring sales.

So if you want to get more from your print or online advertising efforts, apply the AIDA system to create ads that sell.

What is AIDA?

AIDA is the acronym used by marketers to describe the four ‘events’ that must occur when a customer views your advertising.  It stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.


Your ad must first attract the attention of your target market so they will start to read it.  Nothing happens until they do.  This is typically done with a good headline, picture or both.  While there are a lot of headline possibilities, some of the most common and effective headlines include words such as Free, YOU, How You Can, How To, 7 Reasons Why or 5 Ways To.

When it comes to headlines, remember one thing.  Your company name and logo are not a headline.  It does nothing to get prospects attention.  Put them at the end with your contact information and replace it with a compelling headline.


Once you get their attention, you need to raise customer interest so they continue to read on.  The best way to do this is by focusing on advantages or benefits. The things that solve one or more of their common problems.  Many small business ads focus on features, often the same ones everyone else claims.  Customers want and buy benefits so use them instead.

As you use your copy to build interest, keep one thing in mind.  Behavior studies suggest that losses are twice as powerful as gains.  In other words, loss or risk aversion are strong motivators that you should consider and use to build interest.


This is where you convince customers that they want and need YOUR product or services. That YOU have the ability to satisfy their needs.  Think believability and uniqueness.   Why should they choose you over others?


What does the customer need to do next?  Don’t assume they know.  Whether you want them to call to schedule an appointment, visit your store or restaurant or click to make a purchase, a clear call to action is a must.

This 4-step system helps you target more effectively and works like a screening process. A certain percentage of readers will fall off along the way.  It’s expected.  You don’t want everyone. You just want those who want and need what you are offering.

As you plan your advertising each year, take a look at your current or past print, social media, and digital ads. Review the reports where available. Are they producing the results and ROI you want?  Do they follow the AIDA system or can improvements be made?  Why not make some changes and test them out?

More Profit Building Ideas

For business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.