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Making paid search creative stand out from the crowd.

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Good paid search creative must both attract your audience and qualify prospective visitors. But most marketers become so focused on the attraction part that they forget about the second element entirely.

Before you can start to develop creative that reaches both goals, you first need to determine your unique value proposition. Is it, for instance, your pricing, superior service, customization or innovation? Once you have identified this, you are ready to begin the process of improving your creative.

Begin by more clearly defining products or services. For example, if you have minimum order sizes, unusual payment options, long delivery delays or sell only to a few types of businesses, then it would behoove you to specify this in your creative. Yes, fewer people will click on your ads, but you are better off being aggressive in qualifying potential visitors.

The whole key to the differentiation piece is to emphasize offers and a solid call to action. Draw users in by noting special offers such as free shipping, sale prices or exclusives in the creative. Also, when warranted, make sure to use a time frame—such as "today only" or "limited time only"—to give potential customers a sense of urgency. Be sure to play up your company's unique value proposition by featuring your differentiators in the creative. Last, understand that it will take a bit of testing until you perfect the message.

Remember, good creative both attracts and qualifies. If you don't qualify your audience, your click-through rate can be too high. If you don't stand out from the crowd, you'll never catch the eye of potential customers.

Brian Kaminski is managing director of the San Francisco office of iProspect (www.iprospect.com), a search engine marketing provider.

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