Design & Copy Tips That Get You Noticed

When designing any marketing communication, it’s important to stay on the lookout for tips to help with the design, the list, the offer, and the CTA. However, tips to improve readability can make a big difference, too.

If people can’t read the message easily or if you have inadvertently created stumbling blocks that limit their ability to absorb it, your response could be diminished. Improve the readability of your message and you will improve your response rates, conversions, and sales.

Let’s look at five tips for improving readability.

  1. Be specific.

People are drawn to details. Pat Friesen, author of The Cross-Channel Copywriting Handbook, gives the following examples:

  • “Save money.”
  • “Save hundreds of dollars.”
  • “Save an average of $478.22 per year.”

“’Save money’ is a powerful draw, but ‘save hundreds of dollars’ is more compelling,” she says. “Even better is ‘Save an average of $478.22 per year.’ We see this approach a lot in the auto industry.”

  1. Be relevant.

People’s eyes are drawn to messaging that talks about things that matter to them. For example, your audience has children about to graduate from high school. You can add, “Save money to put your child through college.”

“Pair that life stage incentive with the specific detail of saving $478.22 per year and it makes a strong statement,” Friesen explains.

  1. Add images.

Even the most specific, relevant copy can fall on deaf ears without an image to accompany it. For example, you might create a banner ad that says, “Download your free retirement guide” that goes totally unnoticed, even if it’s hitting your ideal target audience. Add an image of the cover, however, and suddenly the ad gets noticed.

Images in email newsletters and other digital media can look flat, so try adding drop shadows for dimension and depth.

  1. Use numerals when possible.

When discussing numbers in running text, use numerals instead of spelling them out. This makes those details pop. Readers’ eyes will be drawn to numerals right away, even in the middle of a paragraph.

Try it! Which one of these stands out most to you?

  • 10,000
  • 10 thousand
  • Ten thousand
  • $10,000
  • $10,000.000
  1. Avoid using all caps.

For the most part, the human eye has difficulty distinguishing between words and letters in all caps. Avoid using all caps except in rare instances.

If you must use all caps, use smart font choices to make the words more readable. “A general rule of thumb is that serif fonts are easier to read in print,” notes Patrick Fultz, president and chief creative officer of DM Creative Group (Woodstock, VT). “But on the Internet, serif can fall apart. The thicks and thins break up. Traditionally, sans serif font reads better online.”

Want more ideas for great design and type that make your message stand out? Give us a call!

Taken from the webinar “Design & Copy: Little Things You Don’t Want to Overlook (2016 DMDay Virtual Conference Session)” hosted by “Direct Marketing News.”


3 Steps to Making A Colorful Impact

Did you know that, according to CCI Inc., consumers make a subconscious judgment about people, their environment, or products within 90 seconds of viewing and that between 62% and 90% of their decision-making is based on color alone? A University of Loyola, Maryland study found that color increases brand recognition by up to 80%.

Color is power! According to the American Psychological Association, by hanging an extra “tag” of data on visual scenes, color helps people to process and store images more efficiently than black-and-white. As a result, color impresses images more deeply into people’s memories.

Consider the current trend toward retro packaging. Major brands, including Cheerios to Skippy, Doritos, and Tide, are throwing back to the 70’s, 60’s, and even the 40’s with styles and colors that are deeply familiar to consumers. By tapping into happy childhood memories, they are creating positive associations that help to sell products.

Another example of the power of color can be seen in the addition of green ketchup to the Heinz brand. According to Junk Food News, more than 10 million bottles of Heinz EZ Squirt Blastin’ Green ketchup were sold in the first seven months following its introduction. Heinz factories worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week to keep up with demand. The new green ketchup has generated the highest sales increase in the brand’s history.

So, what can you do to tap into the power of color?

  1. Make color a priority. Really put thought into your choices. Make great choices in using color to draw out the desired emotion from your target audience.
  2. Use great graphics. It’s worth spending a little extra money on artwork, photographs, and design to really make your color pop.
  3. Manage your color carefully. Work with us to manage your color all the way through the process. This starts with submitting images in the right color space (CMYK rather than RGB), using established printing standards to set color profiles, and working with us to optimize your color for our color proofing system.

These basic steps will go a long way toward taking your color from ho, hum to WOW!



Planting Seeds for Future Sales

Mediocre companies are caught in a perpetual quicksand of sorts, struggling to squeeze every dollar from the same target market they have sold the same products to using the same marketing approach for years or even decades. What sets visionary marketers apart is an understanding of the need to balance today’s performance with a robust strategy for the future. The model shifts from a marketing sprint to a marathon, replete with a strategic plan, creative approaches to making the right things happen and a commitment to investing the necessary resources for long-term success even though short-term profitability might diminish. This replaces an anxiety-ridden future with a forward-looking plan for evolutionary action. Marketing’s purpose becomes two-fold: to foster immediate responses and to plant seeds for tomorrow’s sales.

First you must identify the factors that will impact your company’s long-term marketing approach. You might not have a perfect understanding of every competitive, economic, legal, sociological or technological force that looms on the horizon, but at least you will be alert to the possibilities. Armed with information on the longevity and profit potential of your present market’s life cycle as well as budding market opportunities, you can begin positioning your business for tomorrow today.

From a front-line marketing perspective there are many ways to foster future business opportunities regardless of your business size or budget.

Provide platinum-standard customer service. Your goal is always to exceed your customers’ expectations, but if you fall short, admit it. Many loyal repeat customers result from perfectly corrected errors.

Cultivate your elite customers. Your best customers—those who are easy to work with, really like you and have a positive history with your company—are a goldmine of quality referrals. Strengthen existing relationships and build new ones by inviting these special clients and their guests to preview your innovations.

Create top-of-mind awareness. Not everyone needs your product or service today, but many will at some point. Capitalize on your vision about emerging needs and wants and new technologies and capabilities to get your product or service in front of tomorrow’s customers now.

It takes time for the seeds you plant today to germinate into future business. Essential to all of this is the need to communicate effectively with your target audience. Consult with us to learn how our technology and expertise can support these efforts and help position your company to harvest the myriad of opportunities that lie ahead.

Staying Top of Mind

Quick! Name a soft drink. Chances are you thought of Coke or Pepsi. These beverage giants spend millions in advertising to stay top of mind (TOMA). How about you? If someone asked your customers to name a company in your product category, would your company come to mind?

Here are five ways to stay “TOMA” with your customers:

1. Find your unique selling proposition. What makes your company special? Price, product availability, location, quality, or speed? Articulate it clearly, consistently, and succinctly in all of your marketing communications. Keep saying it!

2. Be consistent in design. Everything from your Web site to your customer literature to your stationery should have a similar look and feel. Use templates if necessary.

3. Proactively send messages into the market. A one-time advertising blitz can get your message out quickly, but you build credibility and stay top of mind with regular, timely marketing communications.

4. Use multiple touch points. Direct mail is highly effective in reinforcing a personal bond between your company and your customer. Multiple media reinforce that message by touching prospects at different times and in different ways. Send a customized letter giving your best prospects the inside track on a new product. Follow up with email. Send a postcard or brochure when the product is available. Send a note of thanks when the client makes a purchase.

5. Timing is everything. Strategically plan repeated communications so customers perceive you as a provider of useful information rather than an intrusive pest. This requires both organization and dedication.

Never before have consumers had so many choices. Staying top of mind will lift you out of a noisy marketplace, increasing customer retention and response rates.

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Understanding Coated Papers

When you look through paper samples, one of the first things you probably notice is whether the sample is coated or uncoated. Coated papers feel smooth to the touch because they have a coating of clay and other substances. This coating causes the paper to reflect light more and absorb ink less than uncoated papers.

Many different types of coated papers exist. To make them, the paper mill starts with an uncoated piece of paper and applies different types of coatings to give the paper different qualities. We call the uncoated stock the base sheet. We refer to the thinnest type of coating as a film or wash coat, which acts as a sealer to prevent ink absorption. The next step is a matte coating. A matte coat has more clay than a wash coat and is good for projects with a lot of text. However, if your project involves large areas of heavy, dark ink coverage, matte coat papers can sometimes appear somewhat mottled.

The next step is a dull, suede or velvet coat. Like matte coatings, dull coatings are good for text readability because they are not as reflective as a gloss coat. Glossy coatings actually have the same amount of clay as a dull coat, but the mill smoothes and polishes the sheets using a process called calendaring. They run the paper between rollers, which compress and smooth the paper. Glossy coatings are great for color photographs, but the same shiny qualities that make photos look great can make text harder to read because of the glare.

Gloss coated papers can be somewhat less white than dull coated papers because the heat required to polish the paper also can add a slightly brownish cast. Coated papers often include shades of white named with terms, such as balanced, warm and cold to indicate the hue. Cream and other off-white tones are available, but because we so often use coated stock for showing off vibrant four-color printing, the paper itself is rarely brightly colored.

As you can see, there are many different kinds of coated paper stocks, and each is suited to different tasks. It can be overwhelming to tackle these choices alone. Contact us early in the planning stage of your next printing project, and we’ll help you choose the best paper and coating for your needs.

Make Graphics and Color Sell!

When you think about marketing that packs a punch, your thoughts most likely turn to the list, the pitch, and the incentives. But when it comes to the design, how much thought do you put into your images and the color of your graphics? As long as they look good, is that enough? No! One of the secrets to powerhouse selling is knowing how images and color influence the buying decision.

Graphics have better recall than words, so they are a critical part of the mix. Your target audience will remember the images, even if they don’t remember the text, so your images have to do more than look pretty. You need to select images that communicate the same message you are communicating through your copy.

Color is an emotional trigger, as well. Every shade has both a positive and a negative connotation, however, so it needs to be selected carefully.  For example . . .

  • Red is a dominant color that might successfully evoke an image of love and passion, but it might tap into the darker feelings of rage and violence, too.
  • Green can stimulate thoughts of money and self-actualization, but greed and envy are associated with this hue, as well.
  • Yellow is associated with happiness and joy, but if you are marketing products to men, it can be seen as childish and inappropriate for merchandise associated with prestige.

Great marketing starts with a relevant list and a great message, but they only tell half the story. Pair a great list and powerful message with an understanding of the critical roles of graphics and color and your efforts will be outstanding.