Advertising’s Bill of Rights


In the advertising business, there are things which must be done in order to create an effective
campaign. Think of it as Advertising’s Bill of Rights: Send the right message…to the right
audience…in the right medium…at the right time…about the right product (or service)…which
sells for the right price…in the right environment.
Although some other rights might be added to the list, this covers the basics. Here’s a closer
1. Send the right message: In other words, watch your language. Instead of using empty claims
and exaggerations like “fantastic,” “incredible” and “best ever,” stick to legitimate features and
benefits. If you’re putting together a response ad (as opposed to an image, or institutional, ad),
make a compelling offer – discounts, time-sensitive offers, two-for-price of one, etc.
2. To the right audience: There’s no such thing as selling to “everyone.” On any given day,
only a small slice of the total audience is in the market for a new car or a refrigerator or a pair of
jeans. Aim your message at the people who want/need/qualify to buy what your advertiser is
3. In the right medium: It’s rare when a particular product is limited to only one possible media
outlet. As a result, most of your advertisers are deciding between two or more choices. The first
order of business is to learn as much as possible about the media product(s) you sell. Then learn
all you can about the other choices in your market. That will put you in position to make fair –
and convincing – comparisons between Choices A, B and C. Along the way, you will confirm
ways to present your paper’s print and online products as the right picks.
4. At the right time: While some products and services are viable all year long, others are
seasonal. Unless your publication is in a year-round cold climate, don’t try to sell snow shovels
in July.
5. About the right product (or service): Likewise, it’s not smart to advertise lawn furniture or
residential termite services in a congested area with high-rise apartment buildings.
6. Which sells for the right price: A car dealer told me about a salesperson who approached a
man in the used car lot. When the man asked, “How much is this truck?” the salesperson replied,
“$19,900.” The man said, “But the tag says $15,000. Do you think I’m some kind of fool?” The
salesman said, “No sir, I was just checking to make sure.”

Encourage your advertisers to price their products fairly. If the price is wrong, no one will buy.
7. In the right environment: Measurements of success shouldn’t stop when an ad runs. Sure,
advertising can generate traffic, but if consumers encounter rude employees in the advertiser’s
place of business, they will leave. And you can say the same for poor parking, inconvenient
hours, dirty floors, and complicated return policies.
True advertising success calls for the entire Bill of Rights, not just one or two.
(c) Copyright 2022 by John Foust. All rights reserved.
John Foust has conducted training programs for thousands of newspaper advertising
professionals. Many ad departments are using his training videos to save time and get quick
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