Make the most of your space

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Space is precious. Don't waste or misuse it, because space, like time, is money. Unfortunately, we encounter countless examples in the b-to-b space where prime real estate goes to waste.

And we're not talking white space, which, when used correctly, is money well spent. Overloading an ad with too much material or extraneous matter is the more common transgression.

We start with an ad for PNC Financial Services Group that we believe could have made better use of two incentives right from the start. It's not until the subhead at midpage that small-business targets learn that they can get a $1,000 gift card from the bank if it can improve their receivables and lower credit card processing costs over their current vendor. In addition, PNC offers targets $250 for opening a new checking account.

The main headline, however, is not nearly as enticing, as it offers to trim the fat from processing costs. Don't get us wrong, promising to reduce costs is a good benefit to put under readers' noses, but we believe PNC could have made better use of the headline space by emphasizing the cash incentives. At the other end of the ad are 16 lines of small type, a copy block that only a lawyer could love.

That daunting glop of fine print isn't good use of space either. Few will actually read it, while the majority of readers will glance at it and begin to feel uneasy about all the qualifying factors they know they should be examining. The call to action directs readers to the PNC website. Why not take care of the fine points there?

Verizon Wireless produces a text-intensive ad that's designed to give an audience of small-businesspeople ideas on how to make their operation smarter by investing in its Mobile Office solutions. Organization of the material in a logical sequence that's consistent with the development of the selling proposition is essential when there's a lot of ground to cover. Verizon gets off to a solid start by numbering its three key points, which that are introduced with boldface subheads. The red numbers are eye-catching and provide a clear sense of direction.

A man with a mobile phone pressed to his ear and a broad smile spread across his face looks toward the copy, which directs the reader's eye to the heart of the matter. In our estimation, the three key points would have accomplished Verizon's mission of selling the target audience on the benefits of Mobile Office. But the creative team appended additional blocks of copy to points 1 and 3, which adds more text to an already text-heavy execution.

The two additional copy blocks create a sense of clutter in an otherwise well-designed ad. Verizon directs readers to its website, where the additional selling points could be better addressed—at least from a design standpoint.

Environmental Waste Solutions describes a franchising opportunity in an ad that's more cluttered than a curio cabinet. The headline, dense-looking patches of copy, testimonials and the unsightly artistic flourishes in the upper right combine to create an amateurish look. There's nary a spec of white space that would have been welcome in this ad, which overwhelms the audience with a riot of information. Like most print ads, this one refers to the company's website where some of the material could be more sensibly addressed.

Never missing an opportunity to burnish its brand, United Parcel Service of America lets a brown-colored laptop dominate the scene in an ad for its UPS Store. The opening lines of copy state: “We do more than shipping. Now it's easy to create professional-looking documents, presentations and brochures with help from the UPS Store.” On the laptop's screen is a print order form with a series of drop-down boxes and the image of a document. The image is hard to discern. We'd make the image crisper-looking not only for aesthetic reasons but to give prospects a more detailed look at how the UPS Store's online printing system actually works. That would be the best use of the space.

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