How to Design the Most Effective Print Ads

By: A.J. Hartless, Marketing and Media Coordinator at For Rent Media Solutions™

Designing a print ad to effectively promote your community and maintain your brand is easy – or it can be if you apply a few simple principles. On average, you have about 2 seconds to engage prospective renters before they turn the page. Keeping that in mind, also take into consideration the amount of advertising noise competing for that attention day in and day out. It is a lot to put your print ad up against, and a lot to take in as a consumer. So, what exactly does it take to make your ad stand out in a positive, helpful way? At the core of print ad design, there are three main elements that you need to keep in mind: the Message, Visuals, and the Call to Action. Let’s break these down one at a time.


Start by asking yourself, what is the goal of your advertisement? 10 out of 10 times the answer is to drive traffic to your door with quality leads. Your community is unique, and your message should be as well. Figure out your community’s unique selling proposition (USP) – what sets you apart from your competitors – and tell your prospects about it. Your ad should be built around this single message. Try not to cram too many different USPs into your ad, as according to Margie Allmon, Assistant VP of Operations at For Rent Media Solutions, “Sometimes too much information can be a bad thing and leaves a prospect unsure of what next step to take.” In other words, be conscious of how many ‘shiny objects’ you’re filling your ad with and take it down to a few, or better yet, just one.


Great visuals will catch the attention of your prospects, and your message will keep them on the page. There are many factors that go into the visuals of your ad, but they will all have one common goal – converting apartment shoppers into leads.

  • Colors – This will be the foundation of your advertisement. The colors in your ad will primarily be derivative of your community’s branding, but can also be custom when used to accentuate other elements of your design. Consistency in branding is important to maintain across multiple channels, as you want to be quickly recognized by apartment shoppers when seen in other forms of media, such as online, mobile, video, etc.
  • Photos – Show your prospects what it’s like to live at your community with quality photos of your most unique or popular amenities. Margie suggests that you try to maintain a good balance of interior and exterior photos.
  • Copy – Your headline will be one of the first things that prospects see when they flip to your ad, and this is where your primary message should live. The body copy of your ad is where you will want to include a brief, yet enticing description of your community, a list of amenities and a starting price to help drive qualified phone calls, emails or visits. Use the copy in your ad to create a ‘word commercial’, which can give apartment shoppers great insight into what it will be like to live at your community.


In order for your ad to be effective, you must be able to adequately convert apartment shoppers into quality traffic. Your ad should have CTAs, including a unique lead tracking phone number, a vanity URL address and the option to include a text messaging keyword. These features are designed to attract shoppers in multiple ways, and provide you with easy measurement. “Ads that are clean, simple and to the point are the ones that are most successful,” states Margie. Taking the time to follow these simple principles will ensure that your community print ad will see the same success.

A.J. Hartless

A.J. Hartless

A.J. Hartless is the Marketing and Media Coordinator at For Rent Media Solutions™(FRMS). His focus is on supporting the FRMS sales team with relevant collateral and tools, as well as the coordination of national advertising efforts. A.J. holds a Bachelors degree from Radford University, where he majored in Media Studies with a concentration in Advertising.