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Ad Libs by John Foust

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 results from in-house training. Email John at john@johnfoust.com.

Say it and do it, or renegotiate

“As a manager,” Joe explained, “this approach helps me stay up to speed with what is happening with our advertising department. Plus, it shows the team that this kind of situation does ...

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The power of being specific

Generalities have no sticking power.

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A key question: What’s next?

Gregory talked to me about a lesson he learned in his early days of selling advertising. “In one of my first presentations, the prospect rejected my ideas for a new campaign. Back at the office, ...

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Two advertising goals: attention and retention

A number of factors influence attention and retention, including ... 

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A good idea is worth the wait

It takes patience to defer judgment. We’ve all been in meetings where ideas bounce around the room. Somebody mentions the first glimmer of an ad idea, and before you know it, someone else says, “No, ...

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The importance of proofreading

Proofreading is one of the most important skills in the advertising world. While anybody with a sense of humor can appreciate a harmless blooper (one of my favorites is the sign that read, “Ears ...

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Advertising’s blast from the past

In order to look ahead to a new advertising idea, sometimes it helps to take a look at the past. When an advertiser has been in business for a number of years, there are plenty of possibilities. Let’s ...

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One way to make presentations more memorable

Samuel, the ad manager at a community paper, told me about a simple technique his sales team uses at the end of meetings with prospects and clients.

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Would you mind showing me around?

Think about it. When you have a conversation in a client’s office, you get a filtered version of that person’s business. There’s a good chance that many of his or her comments have been ...

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Do you have an eight-inch frying pan?

We may laugh at this silly example, but there’s a bit of that old fisherman in all of us. It’s human nature to resist change.

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Cut down on exclamation marks

Not long ago, I saw a half-page, four-color ad for a home remodeling company. Of the 18 phrases and sentences in the ad, 14 of them ended with exclamation marks. That had to be some kind of record.

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Catch more customers for your advertisers

It was a little embarrassing because I should have known better. If I were a fish, I certainly wouldn’t be interested in a shrimp that had been hanging around that long. That lesson applies to advertising, ...

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The advertising sales cycle

Let’s take a look at the sales cycle. For our purposes, the focus is on advertising media sales, but this concept can apply to any business. Although the cycle has a beginning and an end, the end ...

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Free offers can generate big results

Let’s take a few moments to examine a category of response advertising — the free offer. “Free” is one of the most powerful words in advertising. Here are some idea starters:

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Lessons from a failed advertiser

“Unfortunately, that fast-food place didn’t stay open very long,” Clark explained. “For several years after it closed, I wondered if I could have provided more help. But eventually ...

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A simple way to develop ad campaign ideas

Let’s say you’re meeting with a florist who has been running ads with the headline, “For all your floral needs.” Of course, you and I know this is an empty headline that speaks ...

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Give your advertising some personality

Generally speaking, there are two types of advertising. There are image ads that are designed to give consumers a good feeling about the advertiser (for example, “Your safety is our biggest concern”). ...

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Attack of the morale-killing bosses

In my advertising and training career, I’ve observed — and heard about — a lot of boss-employee encounters. Some have been good, some have been bad. All have been instructive. In many ...

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Advertisers’ blind spots

The term “blind spots” has become popular in today’s business environment. It refers to significant things that are not acknowledged or given fair consideration by management. Outside ...

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What makes a good headline?

The headline deserves more respect than that because it is the most important part of an ad. Research shows that four out of five readers do not get further than the headline. Unfortunately, this means ...

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