We are in the middle of developing an ad campaign for a medical products company. Previously, they were running ads they developed themselves.They shared the results of a survey one publisher initiated on the effectiveness of ads that appeared in their magazine. The ads were judged in three categories:

1. eye-catching

2. informative

3. believable

Valid criteria to be sure. But what is needed to make an ad eye-catching, informative and believable?  Which is most important, and which is the hardest to achieve?

Let’s start with the first question: How do you create an ad that is eye-catching, informative, or believable?

1. Eye-Catching

There are a number of ways to make an ad eye-catching. Use big, bold colors or type. Or lots of white space. Use a shocking or incongruous image for that particular market or trade publication. Say something controversial or even scandalous. And so on.

2. Informative

To be informative, or at least to give the appearance of being informative, requires more hard facts and less marketing “fluff”. It’s even better if you can sprinkle in some charts or tables or present tangible data about your product’s capabilities or superiority.

3. Believable

Being believable implies a level of trust on the reader’s part. But how do you gain someone’s trust within a second or two?

Answering the first question helps us answer the second: Which is most important and hardest to achieve? Obviously it’s important to attract someone’s attention. But if the ad isn’t relevant or believable, the reader is quickly gone.  Information can be a powerful weapon. However, presenting a lot of information isn’t always a good idea. First of all, it can make the ad uninviting to read. But more importantly, it may not be possible to encapsulate all your products’ capabilities or benefits in the relatively small amount of space an ad affords. It might be more beneficial to leave the reader hungry and instead, lead them to your website or into a conversation where you have more opportunity to explain your product.

If a product or service is of no use to someone, being believable won’t make any difference. But if after reading what you have to offer, someone is interested, being believable helps to break down barriers, which makes it easier to sell.  But what do you do to gain that trust in a matter of a few seconds? Perhaps it’s what you don’t do:

• Don’t use deception or trickery. If you start a relationship with a lie or deception, there is no trust and it’s hard if not impossible to gain it later.

• Don’t presume to know what’s best. “This is the last product you’ll ever need.”  “The one solution to meet all your needs.” How can you possibly have the answers to someone’s needs if you haven’t even been introduced yet?

Don’t over promise. Don’t offer a solution that you can’t deliver on. If something even hints at sounding too good to be true, it will immediately set off warning bells. It’s much better to present what your product  can  deliver under normal use, not perfect conditions.

In truth, real trust is earned over time. But starting off on the right foot makes each it easier to gain it down the road.