Advertising For Dummies, 2nd Edition


by Gary Dahl





About the Author

Gary Dahl is an award-winning copywriter, creative director, and advertising agency owner. His career spans 40 years, during which he has handled all facets of advertising for hundreds of clients. His agency, Gary Dahl Creative Services, in Campbell, California, specializes in electronic advertising. Dahl’s ability to creatively capture the essence of a client’s business in 30 or 60 seconds of clear, concise broadcast copy is a result of having written and produced hundreds of television commercials and thousands of radio commercials for a wide variety of businesses, including financial, automotive, wireless, education, retail, high-tech, and dot-coms.

Gary Dahl has a unique understanding of what it takes to successfully convey a client’s message to potential customers. As the creator of the retail phenomenon, the Pet Rock –– which still ranks as the fastest selling and most publicized novelty gift product in retail history –– Dahl has proven the extraordinary power of a creative idea combined with an effective, well-planned marketing strategy. He has been featured in Time, Newsweek, People, Playboy, and other major magazines; has appeared on numerous network TV shows; and has been interviewed by countless radio networks worldwide, including NPR, the BBC, and the Australian Broadcasting Company.

An accomplished public speaker, Dahl has made advertising/marketing presentations to numerous university advertising and marketing communications classes, advertising and civic organizations, and business and professional clubs throughout the country. He and his wife, Marguerite, live in the hills above Los Gatos, California.

Ruth Mills is an editor and writer with more than 20 years of experience in book publishing. She has edited and published books on a wide range of topics, including business, finance, biography, general-interest non-fiction, and fiction. She has worked with authors who were CEOs of major corporations (including Continental Airlines and Sears) and journalists from such major publications as BusinessWeek, Forbes, Fortune, and The Wall Street Journal. She also developed several series of books with Entrepreneur, Adweek, and Black Enterprise magazines. Finally, she has ghost-written seven books on business topics, including advertising, real estate investing, personal finance, and the success story of a well-known business entrepreneur.



To Marguerite, my soul mate and the love of my life.


Publisher’s Acknowledgments

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Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Project Editor: Natalie Faye Harris

(Previous Edition: Elizabeth Netedu Kuball)

Acquisitions Editor: Stacy Kennedy

(Previous Edition: Holly McGuire)

Copy Editor: Sarah Westfall

Technical Editor: Tom Hirons

Editorial Manager: Christine Beck

Media Development Manager: Laura VanWinkle

Editorial Assistants: Erin Calligan, Joe Niesen, David Lutton, Leeann Harney

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (

Composition Services

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Layout and Graphics: Carl Byers, Lavonne Cook, Joyce Haughey, Stephanie D. Jumper, Shelley Norris, Barry Offringa, Laura Pence

Anniversary Logo Design: Richard Pacifico

Proofreaders:  Dwight Ramsey, Aptara

Indexer: Aptara

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies

Joyce Pepple, Acquisitions Director, Consumer Dummies

Kristin A. Cocks, Product Development Director, Consumer Dummies

Michael Spring, Vice President and Publisher, Travel

Kelly Regan, Editorial Director, Travel

Publishing for Technology Dummies

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher, Dummies Technology/General User

Composition Services

Gerry Fahey, Vice President of Production Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services




About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

What You’re Not to Read

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Part I : Advertising 101

Chapter 1: Advertising: Mastering the Art of Promotion

Making Advertising Work

Getting to Know Your Media Options

Lessons from the Legends: Figuring Out Your Advertising Needs

Chapter 2: Setting and Working within Your Advertising Budget

Determining How Much You Can Afford to Spend

Developing an Advertising Strategy and a Tactical Plan

Maximizing Your Budget

Chapter 3: Boosting Your Budget with Co-Op Programs

Knowing Who Uses Co-Op Funds

Finding Out Which of Your Suppliers Have Co-Op Funds Available

Understanding the Rules, Regulations, and Restrictions

Chapter 4: Defining and Positioning Your Message

Understanding Why People Choose One Product or Service over Another

Researching and Assessing Your Competition: What Sets Your Product Apart?

Developing a Strategy for Your Advertising Campaign

Case Study: Advertising a Chain of Women’s Plus-Size Clothing Stores

Chapter 5: Forming an Effective Ad Campaign

Identifying and Targeting Your Audience

Checking Out Your Competition’s Ads so You Can Differentiate Yours

Focusing on Ads That You Respond to Most

Concocting a Creative Hook to Get Your Audience’s Attention

Incorporating Your Creative Message into an Overall Media Ad Campaign

Part II : Creating Great Ads for Every Medium

Chapter 6: Online Advertising: Maximizing the Enormous Reach of the Internet

Measuring the Pros and Cons of Online Advertising

Creating Your Own Web Site

Setting Goals for Online Ads

Choosing Among Online Ad Formats

Chapter 7: Using Print Ads: Small Spaces with Big Audiences

Exploring the Advantages of Print

Recognizing What Makes a Print Ad Successful

Writing and Designing an Eye-Catching Print Ad

Chapter 8: Radio: Effective, Affordable, and Fun

Summarizing Your Business in 60 Seconds

Deciding on the Format for Your Ad

Determining Who Should Read the Script

Setting It All in Motion: How to Get Your Ad on the Radio

Chapter 9: Demystifying TV Commercials: They Don’t Have to Win Awards to Be Effective

Designing Your TV Commercial in Layers

Bringing the Audio and Visual Together

Deciding What to Feature in Your Commercial

Figuring Out Where to Shoot

Producing Your Commercial

Editing Your Commercial

Chapter 10: Collateral Advertising and Direct Mail: Brochures, Flyers, Newsletters, and More

First Things First: Planning Your Collateral Campaign

Watching Out for Collateral Budget Busters

Designing the Best Collateral Ads for Your Business

Handing Off the Dirty Work: Direct-Mail Houses

Chapter 11: Opting for Outdoor Ads: Billboards, Posters, Ads on Buses, and Other Signage

Recognizing the Advantages of Outdoor Advertising

Measuring the Effectiveness of Outdoor Ads

Choosing Among Your Outdoor Advertising Options

Designing Memorable Outdoor Advertising

Looking at a Success Story: Chick-fil-A’s Billboard Campaign

Part III : Buying the Different Media

Chapter 12: Investing in Internet Advertising

Hiring Someone to Create Your Business Web Site

Finding an ISP to Run Your Site

Ranking Your Site: Purchasing Key Words on Search Engines

Buying Banner Ads on Other Web Sites

Assessing the Cost-Effectiveness of E-Mail Advertising

Chapter 13: Buying Ad Space in Print Media

Choosing the Right Publication for Your Print Ad

Calculating Your Print Ad’s Cost

Finding a Good Sales Rep

Becoming a Formidable Ad Buyer

Chapter 14: Purchasing Ad Time on the Radio

Determining the Best Radio Station for Your Ads

Talking the Talk of Radio Advertising

Reading the Fine Print

Waiting Patiently for the Results

Taking Advantage of Seasonal Incentives to Reduce Your Costs

Chapter 15: Getting Your Ads on Television

Buying the Programming, Not the Station

Comparing TV Stations: Request Media Kits

Ready to Negotiate? Better Know Your TV Marketing Terms First!

Working with a Sales Rep

Is Cable Advertising Right for You?

Chapter 16: Deciding Whether to Hire an Ad Agency

Determining When You May Need to Hire an Agency

Finding the Right Agency for Your Business

Getting to Know the People Handling Your Account

Compensating Your Agency

Working with Your Agency to Get What You Need

Part IV : Beyond the Basics: Creating Buzz and Using Publicity

Chapter 17: Creating Buzz and Word-of-Mouth Advertising

Getting the Terminology Straight

Seeing the Power of Word of Mouth

Tips and Techniques on Generating Buzz

Chapter 18: Leveraging Your Advertising with Public Relations, Publicity, Specialty Items, and Events

Starting a Public Relations Campaign

Understanding How Publicity Can Bring Customers

Advertising on Specialty Items

Generating Traffic: Promotional Events

Participating in Sponsored Events

Part V : The Part of Tens

Chapter 19: Ten Secrets for Writing Memorable Advertising

Ignoring the Rules of Grammar

Making Your Ads Effective

Knowing Why People Buy Your Products

Finding a Creative Hook

Remembering That Creativity Is Hard Work

Letting Your Creative Hook Dictate Your Media Buy

Considering Your Budget

Striving for Continuity

Keeping It Simple

Being Clear in Your Message

Chapter 20: (Almost) Ten Ways to Know It’s Time to Hire an Agency

Your Ad Budget Has Become Substantial

You Need the Expertise of a Professional Media Buyer

Your Creative Light Bulb Has Burned Out

You’re Overwhelmed by the Demands of Production

You’re Having Trouble Keeping Up with the Bookkeeping

You’re Leaving Co-Op Funds on the Table

Your Time Is Being Taken Up by Media Reps

You’re Running Faster to Stay in the Same Place

You Want a Bunch of Free Stuff


: Further Reading


Advertising, despite whatever impressions you have or information you’ve heard, isn’t complicated — or rather, it’s only as complicated as you want it to be. Sure, a lot is involved with advertising. Print, broadcast, outdoor, direct mail, collateral materials, Internet — each media has its own positives and negatives, its own mysterious production language, and its own unique rates. How does a novice decipher this stuff? How do you know what to buy and what to ignore?

Yes, advertising can seem complicated, even intimidating, but the good news is that it ain’t rocket science. You just need a few tricks of the trade that help you design, write, and implement a creative, hard-hitting, memorable ad campaign for your business. The purpose of this book is to show you those tricks.

About This Book

You can read this book front to back, or you can simply refer to it as you would any reference book, dipping into the chapters you need right away. Whichever way you read it, you may discover some shortcuts, insights, techniques, and money-saving facts that can get you the most bang for the buck while taking some of the mystery out of this all-important element of your business.

Think of Advertising For Dummies, 2nd Edition, as a guidebook to map your way through the back alleys, side streets, and secret pathways leading to effective advertising. Advertising can be a very intimidating subject — it has its own language; it comes in a huge array of media choices; it requires, when done right, creativity, clarity, and solid production values to cut through its own clutter; and it costs a lot of money. But advertising is also essential to the success of your business. Use this travel guide to chart your course down the hidden boulevards of advertising, and you may discover that, indeed, the streets are paved with gold.

Conventions Used in This Book

When this book was printed, some Web addresses may have needed to break across two lines of text. If that happened, rest assured that I haven’t put in any extra characters (such as hyphens) to indicate the break. So, when using one of these Web addresses, just type in exactly what you see in this book, pretending as though the line break doesn’t exist.

What You’re Not to Read

You don’t have to read any text preceded by a Technical Stuff icon in order to understand the chapter subject (though I urge you to read it if you’re feeling the need for some surplus advertising brainpower). Some information also appears in gray boxes known as sidebars. These sidebars are asides and not critical to the text, so you don’t have to read them — though you may miss out on some interesting information or anecdote if you skip them entirely!

Foolish Assumptions

This book is not for the CEO of a major corporation with virtually unlimited funds for slick, glossy production, and mind-boggling amounts of cash for media buys. Instead, this book is for entrepreneurs, owners of small to mid-size businesses, and professionals selling important services — in other words, anyone who’s trying to drum up business and create a successful company with the help of advertising. This book is for the rest of us — the people for whom an advertising budget represents an important percentage of gross income and, therefore, a drain on the old take-home pay that must be considered very seriously.

Over the years, I have helped numerous clients project clear, concise, creative messages within limited budget parameters. I used to dream of boundless production budgets with which to produce award-winning ads for both print and broadcast. I always wondered what it would be like to take a complete crew — cameramen, sound and lighting technicians, stunt drivers, fashion models, actors, makeup people, hairstylists, even caterers — to some exotic locale where I would have a one-month deadline within which to shoot a 30-second, $2 million spot. It never happened. My guess is that less than 1 percent of all professional advertising people actually work on the major national accounts, creating the ads you see each night during prime time — the ads produced with unrestricted budgets, which, sadly, still seem to miss the mark more often than not. The other 99 percent of advertising professionals are guys like me.

How This Book Is Organized

This book is divided into five easily digestible parts, and each part is divided into chapters. Here’s the scoop on what each part covers:

Part I: Advertising 101

From the moment you get out of bed in the morning, to late at night when you turn off the television and turn out the lights, you’re bombarded with thousands of advertising messages. Advertising is here, there, everywhere. And into this clutter you now insert your own advertising. What you discover in this part are the fundamentals of effective advertising. I also help you identify your target market, set your sales goals, narrow your focus, and develop an advertising plan that works. I delve into the complicated world of co-op advertising reimbursement, in which your ad dollars are augmented by others.

I think you may be pleasantly surprised at the quality of media you can afford, even on the smallest budgets. Mass media may, at first glance, appear to be unaffordable. But regardless of the expense, when you consider how many people you can reach with mass media, it’s the smartest way you can spend your money. What you can’t afford to do is fritter away a limited ad budget on questionable media that’s better suited to wrapping fish than it is to attracting new customers to your business. So in this part, I help you plan an advertising strategy that actually brings customers through your door.

Part II: Creating Great Ads for Every Medium

This part of the book is the longest, because the depth of your media choices is simply mind-boggling (and new forms of media, both good and bad, are introduced nearly every day). In this part, I stick to the mass media choices of online ads and your own Web site, as well as newspaper, magazine, radio, television, collateral, and outdoor advertising. I walk you through the steps of writing broadcast and print ads that motivate and sell. I show you what goes into producing radio and TV commercials, as well as print ads and brochures, and I queue you in on what you need to know to build a Web site and advertise on the Internet. I also show you why continuity, delivering the same message across all media, is the all-important key to a successful ad campaign.

Part III: Buying the Different Media

This part gets down to the nitty-gritty — the actual spending of your hard-earned advertising budget. Here I take a hard look at investing in Internet advertising, negotiating with print media to get the best possible page position at the lowest possible price, and why buying television time isn’t nearly as complicated as putting a man on the moon.

Here’s the best part of these chapters: I give you the inside scoop on getting all kinds of free stuff (even vacations) as part of your media expenditures. The chapters in this part give you the information you need in order to maximize your ad budget by spending it wisely. Finally, if you’ve considered hiring an ad agency, this part is where I tell you who the players are and the pros and cons of going this route.

Part IV: Beyond the Basics: Creating Buzz and Using Publicity

In this part, I show you how to generate word-of-mouth and buzz about your products or services. And I explain the difference between publicity and public relations, help you write a good press release, and show you how to get it published (hey, it’s free advertising). Finally, I walk you through the unique nature of advertising specialties and premiums while showing you how to increase their effectiveness, and I reveal how to become involved in sponsored promotions and events. I even demonstrate how to invent successful promotions of your own.

Part V: The Part of Tens

What, you may be asking, is a Part of Tens? It’s the part of every For Dummies book that cuts right to the chase. If you don’t have time to read anything else in this book, read these short lists of do’s and don’ts. In these lists of ten, I instruct you on writing effective, creative, clear copy for all media and help you decide whether or not your business could use the services of an advertising agency. (If you’re too busy to even read that chapter, hire an agency right away.)

Icons Used in This Book

Icons are those little pictures you find in the margins of this book. I use them to grab your attention and steer you toward key bits of information. Here’s a list of the icons I use in this book and what they mean:


Some of the points I make in this book are so important that you want to commit them to memory. If you file these tidbits in your memory bank, you will have gathered some very important details about the advertising business.


This icon marks insider tips I’ve gathered over the years. They can help you avoid some of the mistakes I’ve figured out the hard way and give you a leg up as you navigate the various elements leading to effective advertising.


As I lead you through the hidden back streets of advertising, I don’t want you to stumble and fall. So I’ve marked some of the larger potholes and cracks in the sidewalk with this Warning icon.


Whenever I wax nostalgic and feel the need to share stories of my past experiences or interesting examples from others in the ad biz, you see this icon.


The advertising trade brings with it a ton of technical stuff, and I’ve marked these areas with this icon. The good news is that you can safely skip over any paragraph marked with this icon. But if you read it, you may discover information that you can use to wow (if not confuse and dismay) the sales reps and other ad people you deal with, not to mention your neighbors down the street.

Where to Go from Here

You’re holding this book because you felt a need to discover the ins and outs of the ad game. Think of this as a traveler’s guide that contains the charts and maps you need in order to find your way through the weird and wonderful world of advertising. You can begin your journey in the beginning, or you can dive right into the middle — whichever works best for you.

Part I

Advertising 101

In this part . . .

Advertising: It’s here, it’s there, it’s everywhere! Everyone is assailed with advertising messages every waking moment. The obvious media –– television, radio, newspapers, magazines, billboards, and direct mail –– are just the tip of the advertising iceberg. Your cereal boxes, milk cartons, clothing, bedding, fashion accessories, and even your automobiles are covered in advertising. Into this cauldron of advertising vehicles has been thrown the Internet, grocery carts, the reverse side of cash register tapes, ATM screens, even displays in some public restrooms –– and all of this hype contributes to advertising clutter.

If you want to advertise your business (and you most certainly should), you have to enter this world, jumping in with both feet. Daunting? You bet. Impossible? No way. In this part, I share the fundamentals of advertising, help you develop (and stick to!) a budget for your advertising needs, and show you how to boost that budget by partnering with others via co-op advertising. I also offer guidelines on defining and positioning your message and aid you in developing an ad campaign that can be effective for your business.