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Principles of Good Mailer Design

Apr 03, 2011

8 Universal Principles of Good Mailer Design

Last month we ran the last article in our five-part series Principles of Good Mailer Design. While your choice of mailer type will dictate how best to design the piece, there are some universal principles of good design. We've recapped them here. Why does it matter? These universal principles will help you maximize the effectiveness of your mailer - the response you get from it - for more bang for your mail buck.

Principle #1: Keep it simple.  Good design makes your message more easily understood. In a content-loaded mailer like a newsletter, simple design is critical. Try beginning each article with a paragraph of text that is larger than the running text - that will differentiate the articles from one another and make each easier to read (which means that your mail recipients will - you know - actually read the article).

Principle #2: Go big. Bust the size barrier for more dramatic graphics and a more detailed message. Our jumbo 6 x 11 postcard pops out of the mailbox, with plenty of room on both sides of the card for your brand-building message. The jumbo postcard is ideal for capturing the attention of new prospects (then, of course, you must seal the deal with a compelling call to action).

Principle #3: Use photographs to tell your story. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. While words have their value too, mail recipients are indeed drawn to well-chosen photographs. With our picture letters a 3"x 3" image shows up in all its glory through a full picture-window envelope.

But choose wisely - your image will be the single most dominant element in your letter; it will become your visual identity. Demonstrate the benefit of your services visually and grab the reader's attention immediately. (Using a photo of a cake, for example, in the context of a flyer for a bakery grand opening visually communicates the topic and invites the reader into the text.)

Principle #4: Stick with your message. It is easy to get bored with your marketing message and your brand imagery - hey, you've internalized them. But to a new prospect, your message is as fresh as the day you created it. To repeat customers, your message is familiar and comforting. So reinforce it in everything you do.

Principle #5: Request a response. The end-game in direct mail marketing is to generate response. Maybe it's a visit to your retail location (and then a purchase). Maybe it's a phone call. Or an acceptance of your free trial subscription. Or a click through to your website. Whatever the response you're trying to generate, you've got to ask for it. Then ask again. And make responding easier than pie.

Principle #6: Be innovative, but purposeful. Being clever just for the sake of being clever is never very effective (as much as creative types would like it to be). But being purposefully clever, and clever in a way that will resonate with your target audience, can really help your mail piece stand out in the mailbox. Perhaps the latest and greatest innovation in direct mail marketing is QR codes. Print them on your mail piece to drive recipients to your website, or to a text-message signup form, or to your Facebook page. (Learn more about using QR codes in your direct mail.)

Principle #7: Create a ticket (or a coupon). The ultimate goal in direct mail is to create a mailer so enticing that customers keep it around. One easy way to do that is to make your mailer a ticket or coupon that the customer can use to get a special prize or discount on her next visit. She keeps the card around until then, which keeps you at the top of her mind, and she comes in for a repeat visit - a huge double-win for you.

Principle #8: Benefits, benefits, benefits.  It's been called the "what's in it for me" principle - your prospects don't care what you can do, they care what you can do for them. So highlight the benefits your products or services offer. Include those most important benefits as stand-out headlines.

We've combined those five articles in our Principles of Mail Design series into a new white paper that covers the most important design principles for postcards, flyer self-mailers, booklets, reply cards and response letters, and (picture) letters. For your copy, e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).