4 min read

How to make good ads (even if you're new to this)

How to make good ads (even if you're new to this)

When I took over a new Digital Marketing Manager role in September 2023, I found myself smack in the middle of the paid media ocean, with a hefty budget to manage and big expectations to meet. Honestly, I needed a crash course in paid ads—ASAP.

What did I do? I started soaking up everything I could from the pros. I read articles, watched breakdowns of successful campaigns, and, most importantly, I started collecting ads. Yep, I created a swipe file (Here's another one).

I’ve pulled together ads that caught my eye, dissected what made them tick, and jotted down notes on why they stood out. It’s been like building my own playbook, piece by piece.

While doing this, I also noticed B2B ad space - where I'm focused on - is an untapped goldmine. B2C ads, understandably, get all the spotlight because they're more fun and creative but B2B can be fun, too.

Here’s what I've learned from studying hundreds of ads, sprinkled with some of the examples I captured:

Storytelling is Key: I quickly learned that ads that tell a story, rather than just sell a product, resonate deeply. They connect on a human level, making the message stick. It’s like finding a friend in a crowd of strangers – that ad suddenly speaks to you, and you remember it.

Talk to People, Not Logos: This was a game-changer. Every B2B ad that stood out did so because it remembered that businesses are made of people. When you speak directly to those individuals, your message lands more effectively. If your buyer is the office manager, do you think your message would resonate better if you addressed her pains and goals, or if you spoke broadly to any job title in her company.

Sell the Dream, Not Just the Product: The most compelling ads didn’t just showcase a product; they painted a picture of a better reality. This transformation – from what is to what could be – is what truly sells. It’s not just about the features; it’s about the difference those features make.

Clarity is King: In the world of ads, confusion is your enemy. The best ads I collected had one thing in common: they made it crystal clear what the viewer should do next. Whether it was signing up, learning more, or making a purchase, there was no room for guesswork.

Emotion Drives Action: Creating an emotional connection turned out to be more powerful than any technical feature or price point. Using the familiarity principle, ads that leveraged something the audience already knew and liked were miles ahead. They felt like inside jokes, creating an instant bond.

Simplicity Sells: In the blink-and-you-miss-it world of ads, simplicity reigns supreme. You have a tiny window to grab attention. The most effective ads didn’t complicate their message. They were straightforward, direct, and impossible to ignore.

Visuals and Words in Harmony: Matching the visual with the message amplified the ad’s impact. It’s like a one-two punch; the visual draws you in, and the words deliver the message home. This synergy makes the ad memorable and powerful.

Experimentation is Essential: My swipe file is a testament to diversity. From before-and-after shots, comparative ads, feature highlights, to leveraging social proof, memes, and illustrations – trying different angles showed me what resonates with different audiences.

Test, Learn, Refine: The ultimate lesson? Don’t get too attached to any one ad or approach. The magic of paid ads lies in the ability to test, gather insights, and iterate. What works today may not work tomorrow, and that’s okay. It’s all part of the journey.

This entire process has been like piecing together a giant puzzle, and every ad I collect adds another piece. I'm really enjoying the process and trying to implement these principles into the campaigns we're working on.

Now, I’m turning the tables and asking you: Got any standout ads or campaigns you’ve been eyeing?

Also - let me know if it's valuable for me to share the ads swipe file I've been building and I might add it to my Marketing Hub.

P.S. I post more frequently on Linkedin - follow to get glimpses into daily insights and marketing tips.