The Trick to Selling More: Great Ad Design

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Simple Ways to Turn Ad Dollars Into Profits

For the most part we’re surrounded by good ads, whether it be a movie ad online, a restaurant ad on television, etc. The thing to keep in mind is that these big brands have teams of people working to create that ad. Though they seem at times simple, there’s a lot of work that goes into them. Plus, there’s a lot of money that was spent to create that ad and get it in front of customers. This can create a false sense of security of how easy is is to do it yourself and do it right. As well as the idea that you won’t waste money and time.

For many people, from their perspective, creating ads is wasting money. However, from our perspective we call that testing.

Target Market

You’ve decided to advertise your business, whether that be a magazine, on Facebook, on Google, in a newspaper, etc. You don’t even need to have decided on the media through which you want to advertise. There are a few specific steps you should take. The first step is actually a step behind where people typically start. That is determining who exactly you’re trying to reach, who is your customer? This needs to be as specific as you can possibly make it. In marketing speak we call these customer profiles. You’re looking to narrow down and create a composite of who your customers are now, or who you want them to be.

The reason you want to do this, is because you can target your marketing materials to be appealing to that target audience. If it’s very general, it’s not going to be interesting to anyone. An example of a target audience could be: Moms of youth sports players. This starts to give you a picture of that person, as well as other imagery – soccer balls, a mom hugging their kid, a cheering mom, a kid swinging the bat. When we’re creating our marketing material we’re going to make it so that it’s visually appealing to mothers of youth sports players.

Your market should be someone who is likely to buy from you and bring you profitable business. It also a great bonus is you enjoy the sport, hobby, etc. as well.

Another example of a market could be owners of yoga studios or people that do yoga. In some cases the soccer moms from the above example might be the same as the yoga people. However you’re going to talk to those people differently. The images and language need to be different. They are different messages. The people who are looking at your ads are going to assume things about your business, so it’s important to pick a good niche market to advertise to.

The concern that we hear from people is that they’re an embroidery generalist – they sell to everybody. However, if you take a look at your customers, that’s probably not completely true. Chances are you’re not in every market, unless you’re really big and have that kind of reach, or are in a smaller town and are one of the few or only person who does your type of custom apparel. If this is the case, your niche market becomes your local town – how do you speak to that? Mention famous landmarks and events. Use images from the town. Your message becomes “Your local embroiderer”.

No matter what you can always define an audience to speak to. Try to make it as specific as possible. Going back to the youth sports moms, you can narrow it down further. If it’s football season, it’s probably a good idea to gear it towards football moms, etc.

Even if there’s two or three markets you’re selling to, know who they are, and be prepared to message to them differently. Create multiple ads.

Ad Placement

After you decide your target market you can then decide where you want to place your ad. Your target market will help you determine where you should place your ad. Whether they’re more likely to be on Facebook. Whether they get all their info from a newspaper, or subscribe to a industry magazine, etc.

One thing we’re seeing more frequently is the Waze App. It may be that people are using the Waze app to get directions to a local sports field, and people will be passing by your store, you can have in the app “Youth Sports T-Shirts”.


Why are you doing an advertisement? What do you want your customer to do, specifically? Do you want them to call you? Do you want them to email you? Do you want them to come to your store or event? Do you want them to go to your website and buy a specific shirt? You need to set out some goals.

When thinking about your goal, think about the value to your business. If you set up an ad that directs they to buy a particular product, what’s the value of selling that shirt? Versus, building an email list, that you can advertise to and potentially sell multiple shirts to over time? Make a choice. It might be that you need to clear out a blank or design, and the ad may produce the desired result.

An Offer

This is creating a reason for your customer to click on the ad. You can put up an ad with a cool design, that’s directed at your target market, but is just a general ad for your business, and you’ll get a response. However if you give them a reason to click right now, there’ll be a huge difference in the response. What is the reason they click on the ad? It could be that football season is coming up, get your shirts before it starts. I’m going to give you free shipping if you click on this ad. Mention this ad and get 10% off.

Think about the reason you click on things and that can give you an idea of offers you want to create. Some of the best inspiration you’ll find is opening up your email, looking at the newsletters of companies you’re subscribed to, and what they’re offering. One thing you’ll notice is that what they’re offering isn’t always a discount or something for free. Or the free thing, might not be a product, but a consultation. In custom apparel you might offer a free consultation on how to improve their team jerseys or how to create a successful fundraiser with custom apparel. You can also offer an upgrade to the next level of quality in a particular blank at the same cost.

The reason we’re setting the offer at this stage, is because the offer will depend on where you decide to place your ad. If you’re trying to sell a singular t-shirt design it’s probably not going to sell very well in a pamphlet – that’s how you get people to show up to your shop or call you. Your goal and your target market will also determine the offer. Often timing is really important when it comes to your ad and the target market. If you’re a football mom, placing an ad right before the school year or season starts will be more effective, you can run a “Get your support shirt before the season starts” ad. The offer could be quick shipping to ensure the product arrives in time.

Click Through

Once you’ve got your target market, your goal, and your offer, this is the place where a lot of ads fall down. They create a great offer, but in the end just direct the customer to the website, and the website is just their general website. What we mean by this is if you saw an ad for a Colman & Company heat press and that ad should not take you to the homepage of Colman & Company because there are so many things going on on the website. The link should take you directly to the page about heat presses.

The same thing applies to your offer. If you want someone to click a link and the offer is to attend an event for free, they need to be taken to a page that talks about the event. Where the people go has to match everything else in the chain.


This is a great opportunity to make the offer unique, to that particular ad, at that time, so that you can track whether or not it’s working. The offer might be in a flyer and the call-to-action “Mention September Surprise and receive free digitizing with your embroidery”. So, especially if it’s something that’s not easily trackable (like Google Ads or Facebook can be) you can get feedback on where these people heard about the offer and is that ad working.


Part of tracking and building into customer trust, we highly recommend you spend the money on getting an email address specific to your business – not using Gmail, AOL, etc.

Colman & Company and ColDesi, both spend a lot of time building trust with customers. For customers to come to us and spend $19,000 on the brand new Avance 1502, they should know who we are. They should know we’ve been around for over 15 years. They should know we’ve got more technicians than we do sales people, because we’re that serious about taking care of our customers.

Having that business specific email legitimizes you. You want the person that sees the ad to trust that you’re a legitimate business and will provide them with the quality and service they need/expect.

Another part of that trust is your website. If your website is not great, don’t put it on the ad, or spend the money to make it better. If you’re not sure about the quality, ask someone for their opinion. Someone who is going to be objective and honest.

Your website should also match the look and feel of the ad. That’s part of the flow so that customers feel it’s the same experience. If your ad is advertising corporate wear, your website should reflect that level of professionalism they expect. Otherwise you’re likely to lose trust.

If you’ve chosen to use your cell phone as your business phone and put that number on your ads, you have to start answering the phone as your business.  

Landing page

You’ve likely seen this on television commercials, where it will direct the customer to go to apparel.com/fitness. That slash and the following copy directs the customer to to appropriate page, relevant to the ad. It also lets the business track that commercials success. There is plenty of software out there that will help you build landing pages, such as LeadPages and Unbounce. Even if you have a Wix or WordPress site you can create extra pages.

Hire Professionals

If you’ve got the opportunity to send out a thousand flyers, you may also want to spend the money to get your website updated. So that your marketing costs don’t go to waste.

If you’re going to spend the money to create an ad, don’t use the template in Word. It’s going to reduce the return on your investment. The quality of your brochure/flyer will reflect the customer’s trust in your quality of product. There are a ton of places online that you can get professional templates, or have them create a flyer for you. They may still be inputting your images and copy into a template, but they have people who will make it look clean and professional. This is something you can get done for less than $100, and it will be worth the investment.

Image & Copy

We’re only now at the point where we need to talk about the image and copy for your ad. You can take a photo with your phone, but it needs to be visually appealing to your audience. Think about the feeling you want people to have when they see the ad – should it feel funny, professional, etc.

For example, your audience is mothers in the Latino community, with 14 year daughters – pre-quinceanera. Imagine the look, feel, excitement, sentimentality, the ceremonial nature of that event. That’s the way your ad should feel. Versus if you want to get into corporate apparel, the feel is completely different. You can have the same offer, but the words and imagery have to be different for your different audiences.

If you’re selling to corporate businesses and you want them to buy polos with their business logo, it’s not going to be exciting in the same sense that the quinceanera ad might be. It might simply read something along the lines of “Look professional. Make more sales. Get 10% off your first order.”

If you do funny, edgy t-shirts you can be a little more experimental – “You suck if you don’t click this ad.” The person you want to buy your shirts would laugh at your joke.

When you structure your ad, you have to do certain things. You have to get their attention and you have to tell them what to do – a call-to-action. The structure applies regardless of the medium of your ad:

  • Headline – This is big and something that will catch their attention.
  • Your Offer – Save 10%, Free Shipping, Free hat with purchase. It explains the offer and the gives more information about the product you want them to purchase.
  • CTA – Call-to-Action. Call me now. Click here to order your shirt.
  • Contact Information – If it’s an online ad they can often click to the contact information, but if it’s elsewhere you need to include your email or phone number.


The main takeaways from all this is that you need to plan out your ad in steps. Don’t just throw something together. Make sure it’s getting people’s attention. It’s making them trust that you’re a good person to do business with. And it gives them a clear thing to do next and how to do it – and do it sooner than later. You can get as creative as you want.

Whatever image you pick, just make sure it supports everything else that you’ve done.

It’s going to work. If it doesn’t work this time, that’s okay. Marketing never fails, you’re just learning what doesn’t work. It could just be that the timing isn’t quite right, there are so many reasons why an ad isn’t successful. However follow this method, try it, try it again, try different things. Track it to find out what works.

You can’t just do one version of this. You’re going to need to try multiple headline, different calls-to-action, different offers. You can run multiple offers at the same time. Even in print you can give one sports center 10% off and another buy 2 get 1 free, and see if one gets you more calls.

The Trick to Selling More

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