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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.

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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12 ad copy tips

Once an ad’s graphic design attracts readers’ eyes, it has to say something of value. Otherwise, readers will skip the ad and miss the message completely. Here are a dozen copywriting tips ...

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12 ad campaign tips

A single ad probably won’t generate much business. The real work is done in multi-ad campaigns. Here are a dozen tips: 

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A different kind of question

Monica, a longtime sales manager for a publishing company, told me about a different kind of question. “Years ago, I heard about a technique to turn the process around and ask questions to ourselves,” ...

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Lessons from other advertising sources

According to legend, he once took his executive team to the Indianapolis 500 to study the pit crews. He wanted to see if some of their techniques could help Southwest’s ground crews reduce turnaround ...

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How to handle superlatives

If an advertiser insists on using a superlative, there are four simple ways to make it more acceptable. Just remember the acronym TOTE.

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10 ways to mess up an online presentation

Let’s take a quick look at 10 of the biggest mistakes in online presentations. 

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In search of the perfect headline

Years ago, a keynote speaker at a local Ad Club meeting asked us to put ourselves in a consumer’s shoes. “Let’s say your name is John Doe,” he said. “One day you’re ...

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Get prospects involved in your presentations

Back in my ad agency days, I remember hearing and reading about the importance of getting prospects involved in sales presentations. At that point in my young career, I had experienced the difficulty of ...

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Meet them where they are

Tim manages an ad sales team. “When I started my career in the newspaper business, I quickly learned that advertisers can be worlds apart in their knowledge of marketing,” he said. “That’s ...

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The super sales person who wasn’t so super, after all

Jim was a super sales person. He was so good that he broke all kinds of records at the publishing company where he worked. He consistently brought in more new business than anyone else on the advertising ...

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Right and left brain selling

“Both people bought ads, but it fascinated me that they arrived at their decisions in such different ways. Both cared about the appearance of their ads, but the first person cared more. Both people ...

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The power of restraint

The billboard needed what a lot of ads need — restraint. 

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Creating believable advertising

Consider this profession of advertising. Suspension of disbelief is not necessary. It’s an ad creator’s job to encourage willing belief. 

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