How To Design An Effective Print Advert

8 Seconds.

8 seconds is the average person’s attention span. And you’ve got to grab their attention and get them to take in your advert’s message in 8 seconds.

But there’s a lot of noise out there. And a lot of businesses are competing to grab those 8 seconds and get their message heard.

Not only that, advertising space can be expensive.

So we’re going to share a top tip for how you can design an effective advert and maximise your return on investment.

When you’re planning how to design your advert you want to make sure it’s as strong and effective as possible. And to achieve this you should always think about your ad in terms of A.I.D.C.A…

“What the hell is A.I.D.C.A?”

A.I.D.C.A stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Conviction and Action.

Ideally, your advert should have all 5 elements. And they should be laid out in a clear hierarchy so that a reader instinctively knows which part to look at and in which order.

In order to understand what we mean we’re going to break down the advert below and explain which element falls into which part of A.I.D.C.A.


This can either be achieved through an image or a strong headline. It’s the part of your advert that makes people stop and look twice.

It needs to have impact. It needs to engage and it needs to be instantly relatable or intriguing to your target customer.

How? You ask. Make a statement, ask a question, share a powerful statistic or fact.

Too often we see businesses putting their logo at the top of an advert. Newsflash, the reader doesn’t care what your logo looks like. Even if it is one we designed!

With the advert above they have achieved attention both with their image and the headline – ‘Think downsizing or same sizing’. Their target audience is instantly going to recognise themselves within the image, and the headline is going to speak to something they’ve probably been considering.

So you’ve grabbed them, they’ve stopped and looked. Onto the next step…


Follow on from your headline or image with how your product or service answers the question you posed, explain what the statistic means to them and tell them how your product or service benefits them.

Remember, all they want to know is what you can do for them.

With the advert above they’ve reinforced the intrigue. They’ve elaborated on what the reader may be thinking about with their subheading – ‘Fancy something a little smaller?’


Now you have them fully engaged with your advert they’re ready to learn more.

This is where you give them the core details of what you’re offering. Showcase your USPs, the reason they should come to you over your competitor. The reason they need your product or service in their life.

With the advert above they’ve elaborated on their accommodation options. They’ve showcased their range and their lifestyle flexibility with the paragraph of text.


So now they’re interested, this is where you close them. This is the point where you push them to take the next step.

This can be achieved in a number of ways. A reinforcing bit of text such as ‘book now for…’, having a time or quantity limit, or it can be with a testimonial or trusted accreditation logo. This is what the advert above has done with their ‘Highly Commended’ award.


Last but not least, you need to give the reader options for what they do next. How they carry on their sales journey after they put your advert down.

Include your logo, contact details and website address, because now they want to know who you are.

A.I.D.C.A In Action

When planning how to design your advert it’s always good to have a few examples to look through. So here are two more adverts with effective use of A.I.D.C.A for you.

See if you can work out which element falls under which part of the A.I.D.C.A principle.

Bonus Tips

Think in a Z

People scan print adverts in a Z shape. So bear this in mind when you’re planning where to put the different elements of your design.

Text Isn’t Always Best

Just like ‘Attention’, an impactful image can be equally as effective for achieving Interest or Desire in your advert. Remember, a picture says a thousand words.

Less Is More

Lastly, don’t feel like you need to cram every single inch of your advert with information and images about everything you do.

We get it, you want to get your money’s worth. But trust us, you’ll be doing the exact opposite.

You should have one clear message. It creates a much more enticing advert and makes it easier for the reader to engage and absorb the important bits you want them to know. Think of your advert as the introduction. Get them to metaphorically ‘shake your hand’ either through a call, a visit to your store or by heading to your website. Once they’ve done that you can then tell them about everything else you do.

Sell the Benefits, Not the Features

Features are easy, but what do they mean to the reader? How will they make their life easier, more exciting, more enjoyable, less stressful? It sounds bad, but honestly, they only care about themselves.

A.I.D.C.A Isn’t Just For Print

This principle works across all of your marketing. Winner!

Written by Lee Skellett

Co-founder of Kakadu Creative, Lee honed his craft in the fast-paced, hugely competitive magazine industry. He not only has a keen eye for detail, but he knows how to make an impact with bold, creative and effective design and branding.
June 11, 2022

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There you have it. That’s one of our top tips for how to design an effective advert. Need help designing your next advert?

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