Designing a Great Tourism / Destination Marketing Print Ad

When presented with the opportunity to utilize print advertising to promote your destination, carefully crafting the ad will help ensure the placement will positively impact your destination (which really is the point right?)

Reader profile information can be extremely valuable when determining the tone of the message and design of the ad. Followed by creative tracking approaches to help determine overall ROI of the ad and publication. 

Print Ad Montage

Reader Audience and Desired Outcome

Start by gaining a clear understanding the audience that will see the print ad. What are their likes and interests. What will motivate the audience to move or react to an ad in print? Simply reviewing the print publication can many times provide a basic understanding of these details. Further information can be gained by review the publication's media kit.

Next determine the desired outcome when an individual reads the ad. Is the ad simply to help build your brand through name recognition? Are you announcing a new attraction? Are you promoting a major regional event? 

Understanding the answer to these two items will help guide the print ad design and development. 

Print Ad Message

There are four main copy components of an ad with each requiring special thought as to content.


The headline is the most important copy element within an ad. The headline serves as your single chance of catching the reader's attention with copy. The message needs to be compelling, interesting and concise. The headline should be crafted so it can stand on it's own and deliver the message of the ad. 


The lead (if used) serves to further expand on the headline. Not extremely lengthy but more detailed than the headline. 


The body is the meat. It is here where the details of the message, the offer, the announcement, etc. is conveyed. Keep it focused by speaking to the individual not a group.

Call to Action

Making it simple for the reader to understand what you want them to do and how to do it will dramatically increase the effectiveness of the ad. Make sure the call to action is VERY clear. 

Print Ad Design

One of the most important things to remember is that a print advertisement is NOT a brochure. The ad message (and design) should be focused, stay on message and not try to tell everything about your destination at once. To achieve this focus the design should remain uncluttered, focusing only on the important details that further support the headline, lead and body. 

Consider carefully the photography that may be utilized in the design. The idiom; A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words is very true. Take a moment and consider all of the thoughts, emotions and feelings a truly powerful image can convey. This is why trying to take a shortcut and use sub-par images is a bad, bad idea. Invest the time and money into images that leave the reader wanting more, wanting to visit your destination. 

  • Keep It Clean - Following the notion of "less is more", careful use of negative space (or white space) in a design can help draw focus to the message of the ad. 
  • Typefaces - Use simple but unique fonts to help convey the message
  • Use of Color - In a traditionally black and white ad publication, an ad with a highlight (spot) color or full color can help stand out. Likewise stand out in a traditionally full color publication with a black and white ad.

Print Ad ROI

In the digital world it is much easier to gauge Return On Investment of Pay Per Click ads using complex algorithms, website analytics, and reporting mechanisms - in print, it isn't as easy.  But there are some methods you can put to use to try and better understand what is working and what isn't working.

  • Unique Phone Number - By placing a unique phone number in an ad you can track effectiveness by knowing any calls coming in on that line are directly in response to the ad (assuming the number is not utilized anywhere else.)
  • By Name - Instruct readers to ask for a specific person when they call.
  • Unique Email address - Another great method is displaying a unique email address in an ad. Like the phone number, assuming it is not published elsewhere, any emails that are sent to the unique address were spawned through the ad.
  • Website Landing Pages - Track conversions from print to online by simply publishing a unique landing page URL in the ad. The page can also be utilized to provide additional information about the information found in the ad and even feature an interactive call to action (online form, click-to-buy, etc.)
  • Promotional Code - Encourage readers to mention a promotion code to receive a discount or free gift.

Learn more about the value of integrating print marketing with your digital strategy. 

Design   advertising Destination Marketing Print Design

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