12 Revealing Techniques to Improve the Impact of Your Direct Mail Graphics
Whether you want to try direct mail design on your own or you manage designers and want to impress them with a trick or two, here are 12 techniques that can ensure better direct mail design… and that your mail goes to the top of the stack.
Remember that direct mail is a combination of words and pictures and ideas. A great idea without compelling words often goes unnoticed. Great words without the ability to attract the consumer’s attention often doom those glorious words to oblivion. Great visual images without substantive words and ideas often diminish the outcome.
Prospects and clients will miss the best words and most monumental ideas unless something grabs their attention. The “grabber” for direct mail is design.
1. Good design is the proper blend and balance of color, shape, size, illustrations, photographs, and typography.
2. When designing for direct mail, there is a tendency to be overly concerned about the individual design elements in the mail piece. “How does the headline look?” “Should we put a few bullet points here?” “How about some additional color there?”
This approach often sends you in the wrong direction. Instead, look at your design as a whole… as you would a piece of fine art. Imagine the blocks of text, the headlines, and various color blocks and photos as design elements – squares, circles, and rectangles. See what stands out and what does not.
3. One large, central graphic usually has more impact than many little ones.
4. Let your design direct your readers’ eyes. Because people read from left to right, the eye typically catches the first few words of the headline, moves across the top of the page from left to right, down to the lower left corner, then right again. Picture a big letter “Z” and you have it.
5. In body copy, small type is actually easier to read than large type. The old stand-bys of 10-, 11-, or 12-point type are about as big as you ever want to get for running copy in the body of your solicitation. Paragraphs and sentences that use larger type sizes actually make the reader work too hard. There is just too much eye movement back and forth.
6. The eye also moves from dark to light, from large to small, and from bright to drab. It notices things out of place – unusual sizes, colors, or shapes.
7. When you have six ducks in a row, all the same size and color, facing the same direction, except one, what do you see? Correct! You see the one duck that’s facing the wrong way.
8. Good design means showing restraint. Eliminate color, visuals, and unnecessary backgrounds around important text blocks. With the ease of designing on a computer, it sometimes becomes too tempting to “throw in” some color or borders or special effects. That extra color may actually hinder your ability to attract attention and lead your reader.
9. Put the product close to your reader. Make photos and illustrations large. By cropping photos, you direct your readers’ attention to exactly the part of the photo you want them to see.
10. You can outline product photos to remove unnecessary or distracting backgrounds, except where you show the product being used. Then, you want to bring it to life with a background that relates to your product.
11. Tone down your graphics. Words lose their impact when they are overpowered by unnecessary graphics.
12. Avoid bouncing around with many different design elements – be consistent. In most cases, when you hold to this very simple, effective design strategy — that we call “Choose one!” — your finished design will look extremely sharp. For instance…
Choose one typeface style for your headlines.
Choose one typeface style (the same or an alternate style) for your body copy.
Choose one style of border.
Choose a three-color color palette.
Choose one thickness of line for boxes or rules.
Choose one style of art… that is either photographs or illustrations.
Then, stick with what you choose!
Conclusion: A strong design improves your ability to attract attention and obtain a response. You can achieve both more readily when you turn to a professional direct mail company that has experience and resources readily at hand.
Want to find out how you can save a bundle on your direct mail campaign? Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and type Save A Bundle Report in the subject line. Or give us a call at 1-877-715-1200.