How to Set Up Your Own in-House Advertising Agency

And Save Up to 17% of Advertising Costs

With the high prices of placing ads today, why not save money? There's no special secret to writing and placing advertisements in magazines, tabloids and newspapers. And why not claim the discount given to advertising agencies?

If you handle your own advertising correspondence, work with layout artists and write your own ads, it's well worth your while to set up your own in-house ad agency and save a ton of money.

Even if you don't create your own ads, you can profit from setting up your own agency and placing the ads that bring sales directly to you.

If you have somethings to sell - especially by mail order - advertising is they way to make that product reach people. Although advertising agencies produce excellent ads of all types and sizes with every demographic appeal, they also charge for it. That's why they're ready to claim the fifteen percent discount usually granted for placing ads.

You can learn how to create and design your own ads - with no background in copywriting or art. And, you can set up your own ad agency to place these ads where THEY'LL MAKE MONEY FOR YOU.

Do you have a product that you're ready to sell? Now's the time to find out the best angles to use and the tricks of the trade to putting money in your pocket.

Starting Your Business

Do you have a mail order business? Maybe you sell clothing, camping supplies, or information through ads to the mail order trade. Perhaps you've run classified ads for years and are ready to branch out into larger display ads.

Not only small home businesses, but larger mail order companies and hundreds of major advertisers everywhere set up their own in-house agencies to produce and place ads. Even magazines create in-house departments under another name to get the agency discount.

What might set advertising agencies apart from homemade operations is the appearance of the letterhead and the ad form. They must look sharp and professional.

Start with a name for the ad agency you want to establish. It can be anything, but must be different from the name of the company that will be using the space. Then register the name with the county clerk. Check first to be sure you're not using a company name already in business.

Designing letterhead is easier than you think. You don't have to create an elaborate or clever logo - the initials of the company will do. You can choose the mark - the special type style - at a printers, or use one of dozens of press-on letter styles available at art supply stores.

Using photo offset, an instant printer can run off a thousand sheets at a very low price. If you go to a printer, check and compare the total printing costs. Typesetting can be expensive and there's a minimum charge. You may want to wait to get all your typesetting and printing done at the same time - letterhead, ad form, ad copy and any sales literature you may be preparing. Investigate ways to get by with the lease expense.

Establishing your own ad agency is so easy that the most important part is the form you send in when you place ads. Although there are no federal restrictions for in-house ad agencies, some publications may quibble. If your form looks as good as the rest, you'll have no problems.

The following page is a representation of a sample ad order form. Just copy this form and have your company design or logo printed on top. You can choose a color paper to have the forms run off on - they'll be more noticeable. Then all you do is send in a copy of the ocmpleted form with your check and final artwork for your ad - and claim a big discount for being your own agency.


To the publisher of: __________________________

Order number: __________  Date: ______________

Please publish advertising of:

For (product):

Space to be ordered within one year from
___________ through __________

Space _____________________  Times ___________

Dates of Insertion:

Position __________________  Copy  ___________






Rate Less agency commission ______________ on gross

Less cash discount _________________________ on net

Mail all invoices to:

Accepted for publishing on


The Insertion Order Form

The following will describe what the various terms on the insertion order form mean and how to fill them in.

Space indicates what type of space you are buying: classified or display. If you want display space, indicate the size. Fill in the number of times you want the ad to be repeated. It will run in the number of consecutive issues you indicate. Then fill in the actual dates of insertion for the ad.

The position of the ad can be an important factor in selling. Although you rarely can be guaranteed a certain position in the publication, ask for it anyway. You'll probably get at least the nest best position.

If you are running a short ad that will be printed by the publication, you can type out the copy in the instructions space at the bottom. The key designates the address code you'll use to analyze responses.

For example, you can use a letter to indicate the name of the publication, and a number for the month of issue. Insert this key in the address, perhaps as a department division or suite number. When you get inquiries or orders with that key, you'll know which ad pulled the response.

How to Determine Rates

Every publication that solicits advertising has a rate card. This card is available from the advertising coordinator, who is the contact for the publication and can be very helpful in assisting you. The best way to get a rate card is to write for one or call if the publication is in your city.

The rate card has the general information you'll need for placing your ad. It should indicate the total circulation with a breakdown of subscriptions and newsstand buyers. Keep in mind that most publications have two to three readers for every one purchase.

The advertising rates may be broken down a number of ways, depending on how the publication sells space. Display rates may be sold by the column-inch or lines. Or, they may be broken up into fractions such as a half-page or quarter-page. Some publications have a minimum size space ad, so keep this in mind when designing the ads for certain publications.

The rate card will tell you the amount of discount you are entitled to as an ad agency. It will also give you the deadlines for placing the ads for the next issue and the issuance date, the actual day the magazine comes off press and goes to the newsstands and to subscribers.

If you have any questions concerning the type of space you need or the actual rate, just ask the advertising coordinator.

Take Your 15% Discount

As an advertising agency, you are entitles to a fifteen percent discount on the ad space, unless the publication grants only lower discounts. The easiest way to subtract a 15% discount is to multiply the rte charge by .85. Immediately, you have the exact figure for placing the ad.


Many publications realize that the mail order businesses don't operate with a high capital for placing ads. Because of this, they offer a fifteen percent discount for mail order display ads. To compute the fee for two discounts - fifteen percent for mpute the fee for two discounts - fifteen percent for mail order and fifteen percent for the agency discount, simply multiply the total rate charge by .70. This will give you the fee.

Take Yet Another 2%

Whether you are an ad agency or not, you are entitled to take a two percent discount for sending your check with the order. Most publications offer this discount to discourage billing and encourage cash sales. To figure out the two percent cash discount, Multiply the total rate charge by .98 - after you have already taken the other appropriate discounts. That will give you the total you will pay for placing your ad.

Where to Place Ads

The rule of thumb for placing ads, especially for mail order, is to look through the publications catering to the same product you are selling, and do the same. Although advertisers are always looking for new and innovative ways to sell products, they usually stick with the proven ways of selling.

What are you selling? Where are the logical places these products are sold? Go there and place your ads where people will look for your products.

There is no reason you can't hit a successful ad campaign the first time, but more often, you'll find it necessary to spend some time testing different ads, different display sizes, and even different lead products. Testing is the name of the game, and if you're careful, you don't have to go for broke, but can build a sound winner.

A number of significant successful companies have made a fortune from advertising an appealing product and delivering a good deal. There is no reason why you can't too.

Buying Space

There are two types of advertising space in a publication - display space and classified ads. How you use ad space is entirely up to the type of appeal that will sell the product best, and the financial budget you are working with.

Don't shortchange classifieds. A small, well-written classified ad can bring hundreds of responses on a continual basis.

Often, classifieds are used in a two-step approach of first placing an ad that has no price mentioned and soliciting the reader's response for free information. Then it is followed up with a sales letter or brochure - some kind of sales literature - that gives the pitch for the product.

Classifieds are the least expensive ad to place. People who run mail order businesses find them to be the best dollar-for-dollar investment in advertising. Look at the classifieds section of the publications you are planning to place ads in. If your product could be sold with a classified ad, you should start there.

If you have actual products to sell, display ads are your better bet. You'll probably need an illustration to show the product - something to catch the eye. You can also include a line or two about sending for a catalog if that item doesn't appeal enough, but has captured interest.

Display Ads

Display advertising space is the area in a publication designated for companies to show their products and describe the benefits - appealing to consumers and potential buyers.

Display space comes in all sizes - from full page to a smaller fraction. Since some publications don't have classified space, it may be your logical answer to place a small, one-inch ad. But if your ad is that small and there is a classifieds section, place it there - you'll save money and the ad will be seen by the same amount of people, maybe even more.

Your guideline for determining what size the ad should be is to decide what is going into the ad and what type of approach you plan to make. What sells the products is the appeal and the equality of the ad - not necessarily the size.

Some products need full one-page descriptions; some don't require a large space. You may be able to get by with a small, appealing ad that has a clear illustration, you certainly don't need to go full size.

If you have a limited budget, take out a small ad. A publication with a good reputation and a high circulation makes money from the high ad rates it can charge. Don't sacrifice a good pulling magazine for larger ad space in another publication. You have to consider the dollar-for-dollar response.

Other ways to save money are to advertise in the regional editions of publications, and to buy remnant space which is the "leftover" space sometimes available just before the magazine goes to print. If you have a good working rapport with the publication, you might be able to place a low-cost ad at the last minute.

Depending on your product, you need to consider where you want your ad to appear in the publication. You'll most likely not require the prime spots such as the back cover, the first page or the inside covers.

But is has been proven that a right hand pulls betters response than one on the left side of the publication. Ads placed closer to the front of the magazine pull better than those towards the back. Think about where you want the ad to show up.

Keeping Record

How will you know if your ads are pulling the response you want? When you place different ads in different publications, you need to have a method to determine which ads are drawing the best results. To do this, you keep accurate records.

For each ad you place, you have an address key. Use a separate record sheet for each key. At the top of the sheet, put the pertinent information, such as the name and issue of the publication, the date of issue, the cost of the ad, and the information about the ad you placed.

The main body of the record sheet may be divided into the two categories of inquiries and order. These in turn are separated into date received, number received, and running totals of inquiries, orders and sales.

The reason keeping records is important is twofold. First, you must respond to any orders you receive without getting them mixed up. Second, you need to figure out which publications are bringing the highest responses.

Good records will indicate which headlines pull better, which size has a better draw, and which products out of a catalog have more appeal.

Testing is the best way to achieve results in advertising. The majors do it - you can too. Testing can be just as exciting as the sales you make.

Writing Copy

You've seen hundreds of ads in magazines, newspapers, and through the mail. Most of them are the same; most of them have similar products to sell. You read some of them because you're interested in the product, you read some of them because they're interesting to read, and most of them you pass by.

There are no best ways to describe a product or form an appeal for services. But there are proven methods of writing to catch a few people who didn't know about the product to read the ad and to get the people who are interested in the product to buy.

Your main concerns in creating ads are to get the reader's attention, sustain that attention, and push for action to buy. The longer you can hold interest, the greater number of people will respond.

Use short, simple sentences and paragraphs. Keep your writing concise and to the point. Rambling words and ideas will make the reader lose interest quickly. Always be relevant to what you are selling.

Subheads help cut copy into small, digestible pieces, as does the use of block paragraphs. Using italics, capital letters, bold face and oversized print can help grab attention to the words.

Make the copy rewarding to read, the product appealing to have, and the offer too good to pass by, and you'll have plenty of business.

Choose an Appeal

What will put your product to best advantage? What can the reader gain? The headline is the stopper. If is the few words that will make the reader stop and look at the ad. Think of how your product can appeal to the readers you want to induce. Can I manage to save, gain or accomplish something ordinary or special? Can I increase my finances, good health or general well-being? Maybe the product or service can help avoid worries, losses and mistakes. Or help decrease fears of poverty, illness in the family, loss of job.

The attitude you choose shoots for the person's emotional state. It is the emotions that catch hold, then reason follows through to decide to read on or not. Consider the typical buyer you desire and go after that person.

Use the words "you or "your," or imply that direct approach with "we" and "our." Make the reader believe you are writing directly and honestly, offering the best available.

Consider a headline that uses "which one" or a comparative price. The choice alone entices you to read further. Or you might use an underdog approach such as I went wrong too, but will tell you how you can avoid it.

The headline that includes "how to" is always an appealing catcher. Invite the reader into your copy and then lead quickly into the main text of the ad.

Show the Advantages

Most ads placed by small in-house agencies don't solicit the national retail trade that large advertising companies handle. Instead, they offer an unusual product or service, a great price on closeout items, or products for the mail order consumer. More often than not, these ads will be short, concise, and stop not long after the headline. For many products, there's not much that needs to be said that a picture or drawing can't show.

But for those items that sell even better with copy, you'll need to think about the benefits you want to describe, and the best ways to show these advantages.

You've caught the reader's attention with the headline. Now hold it. Follow through with the facts that answer the headline. You have to convince the reader not only to want to have the product, but to want TO BUY IT.

Whatever you considered for the headline, study it again. What will this do for me? Why do I want to buy it? Is it less expensive than the other similar products? Is it the same, but a newer model, or a more efficient design?

Push the emotional appeal. How will this make me look better, feel better? What will my family and friends say? You might try to tap into the market of avoiding embarrassment, eliminating problems, minimizing risk.

Will this help me enjoy my leisure? With the continued trend towards increasing leisure time and the money after-work activities to the public, people are looking for more and more interesting things to do with space time. Can your product tap into this?

Money is forever the great desire. Now more than ever, people seek financial security, and look for ways to save money - especially over the long run. Saving money and buying at a lower price are sound copy points. But they must be followed through with believable reasons and sound facts.

For example, ads for wood-burning stoves often appear in northern regional editions of publications, or magazines catering to homeowners. A small ad with a drawing of a wood burner may draw attentional with a headline about saving heating costs. It can include an address to write for more information.

A larger space ad could include the advantages of a wood-burning stove over and above the savings on gas bills, such as efficiency, superb craftsmanship, quality of materials, or easy to install. Any benefits that sell the product can be used to appeal to the reader.

A still larger ad could have an "exploded" drawing of the inside of the stove, and might also include information about how it works, how it saves you money. It might mention the reputation of the company. But consider whether the cost of a larger ad will bring in the extra response to make it profitable.

Stick to the facts. And stay with the BUYING POINTS. A potential customer may be sold, but will that person buy? Endorsements and testimonials are effective ways to dramatize facts and back up the benefits of your product, but don't use ones that seem transparent. They'll ring falsely. There are federal laws against misleading advertising, and they do check up on and prosecute against fraud.

If you use an endorsement from a famous or popular person, that person should use the product. Any testimonials you use must be true, and the people must be available for verification.

Always aim for satisfaction. Self-respect, security and accomplishment are human aspects everyone strives for. Never talk down to the readers as though you know something they don't or you're better than they are. To you, the potential customer is POTENTIAL GOLD.

Ask for Action

You've caught the reader's attention with a catchy headline. You've followed through with good copy that demonstrates benefits and appeals to the reader. Now - before you lose that interest - ask for an order.

You want to close the gap between reading the ad and acting upon impulse. The purpose of the ad is to make people buy. You have to tighten the desire to want to buy.

A money-back guarantee is the most useful tool in pressing action. It goes for the bottom line. What do I have to lost? And it affirms the quality of the product. If you are willing to back the claims you make with a full refund, you can get a hook into those borderline buyers.

If you give a time limit the product will be offered for sale, or mention a limited supply, or have a reduced price for a certain time, you'll increase the impulse to act. And that's what you're after. Appeal to the reader's urgency; make the product totally desirable to have - now.

How to Use Illustrations

The major reason to use display space is to illustrate your product. Some items are very difficult to sell without a picture or drawing. And some illustrations work better with your product than others.

The illustration may be selling the only product you have, or you may want to use a lead illustration - something out of your product line that is particularly appealing. Then give the company name and address for people to write for a free catalog.

Be particular about using photographs. Never put in your own picture - it won't help sell a product. And be very choosy about models for clothing. Avoid using models if possible, and if absolutely necessary, you'll need professionals.

An advantage to photography is that you can picture your product in full, glowing color. But it is not usually that important. Considering the additional costs, it may not bring in the additional response to make it worthwhile.

You can have your product pictured indoors or out. But consider the size of the ad, and get rid of extraneous visual matter in the background. You are aiming for a clear, appealing view of what you have to offer and you want the reader to buy that product.

In using photographs, always to go top quality. You can find dozens of excellent professional photographers from the yellow pages and at the photo supply stores. Look at the photographers' work, and don't get a portrait-taker if you need to illustrate a product.

Can the photograph or product be converted or illustrated with art? Line drawings are beautiful ways to show off a product in a clear and direct manner. They can be simple - just an outline. Or they can be more elaborate with shading and hatching. Line art is easy to draw and reproduce. And usually, it can show up a product to best advantage. There are no extras to detract attention.

Consider the simplest and most direct way to illustrate the products you want people to buy. Maybe you can try a layout with a photo and one with a simple drawing. What difference does it make?

What is the competition doing? When testing new ads, go with the tried and true. Don't try to be different. It is the sound and worthwhile that bring in the customers - time and time again.

Working with Artists

If you're not an artist, don't stop creating here. There are no special tricks to designing a good page, and there is no great expense in having someone else do it.

The best way to find an artist to draw line art, design and layout a page, and past up the ad, is through design studios. Don't commission the studio - there's usually too much overhead. Talk to individual designers and get somebody who does free lance work. You can negotiate a very reasonable fee. But get a professional. It's worth the extra hourly fee to have somebody who knows how to design.

Work directly with the artist - be sure your desires are well communicated. And be sure you are satisfied with the work accomplished. You both have something to say, but more so, let the product speak the loudest.

Doing the Layout

You don't need to hire a designer to do the layout for your ad. You are capable of doing it yourself - after all, you know the product best. Consider what you want to say. You need to make it different from the other ads, yet you shouldn't try for innovating design awards.

The ad must be interesting to look at and should have a feeling of movement and action. That movement is not necessarily in the illustration, but the placement of illustration and copy in the ad, so the eye goes from one to the next in easy, exciting movements.

You'll need to consider where the illustration will be, and its relation to the headlines and body text. Perhaps you are showing the product in use, or maybe the illustration is just a simple picture of the product.

A rule of thumb in layout is to use contrast. The most obvious contrast is the black print on white paper. Use that white space. Although it's not apparent, the white space is as important in the visual appeal as the illustration and type.

Don't try for symmetry. The unusual or irregular catches the eye more readily. The illustration works hand in hand with the headline to grab reader's attention.

Be simple and direct. Don't push too much copy into a small area, crowding the illustration. If you don't have room, cut copy or reduce the illustration.

You can use any size and style type you want for the ad. But don't get carried away. You shouldn't use a special typeface unless it helps sell the product. And, never use a headline type that's hard to read.

Using different sizes of type help point out the benefits of the product. Bold or italicized type also bring more visual appeal to the ad.

If you find that the illustration is too big for the ad space you want to use, you can reduce it to a smaller size, or crop out portions not absolutely necessary. A "bleed" photo runs straight off the page. Check with the advertising coordinator first to be sure the publications will do bleeds.

A good way to do a rough layout is to use a pencil to sketch in the places for the type, the illustrations, and lines to indicate body copy and the name of the company. Try different pencil layouts until you're satisfied you have the product at its best appeal.

Camera-Ready Copy

Most publications require final artwork for display ads. Camera-ready copy means that it's ready to go - to be made into the films printers use for reproduction. The type has to be typeset, the art must be clear, and the layout must have these elements pasted down.

Even if you get as far as producing a rough layout, it won't cost too much to convert it to final artwork. But if you're doing the whole thing, you have to be sure you have all the elements. To have copy typeset, you go to a typesetting shop and give them typewritten copy for every character you want to show up on your ad. You can discuss with them the size of type and pick styles. Final artwork should not be a photocopy of a drawing, but the original drawing or a Photostat. A Photostat can be made of the original if it needs to be reduced or enlarged to fit the exact size of the layout.

If you are using a photograph, it should be a professional quality print. Any areas that need to be cropped should be indicated with a red grease pencil that won't harm the surface of the photo - don't cut the photo.

If you are using color photography, you may need to have color separations made before you submit the ad. This is a process whereby the color in the photo is separated into its four elements of red, yellow, blue and black. The advertising coordinator will be able to tell you what you need, and a local printer can help you with the separations.

If you have no experience in pasting up layouts, you'll need to get a professional. Why make a mistake so late in the game? Although it is a simple process of gluing the type and illustrations down with rubber cement, you need the correct tools to be sure everything is exactly straight.

Where to Go from Here

Setting up your own in-house advertising agency is easy. Placing ads and claiming your fifteen percent discount is no problem. The challenge comes in writing appealing ads that are winners. The reward is selling product through those ads month after month, year after year.

At any stage of the advertising game you can call in professional advice. A free-lance pro can offer sound, money-saving tips and be worth every dollar spent. Even if you commission the artwork and layout of the ad, you'll still save a bundle over ad agency costs.

If you have your own home business, or if your company has expanded into advertising, there's no reason not to set up your own agency. There's no hassle, and the savings are great. If you need specialized LEGAL advice or assistance on this subject, the services of a professional person is recommended.

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