Branding

Using Illustration to Cut Through Visual Clutter.

brushOff-ink-250When  Julia and I first began discussing this topic, we were determined to take an illustration vs. photography approach. But the more research I did, the less I wanted to talk about photography. It’s not a competition, really, but rather a matter of making a choice based on which form will best accomplish your marketing objectives.

The Illustration Edge

According to the AIGA, the professional association for design, here’s what illustration can do for you: “Illustration can provide a unique sensibility to certain projects. Illustration brings spontaneity, freshness and a unique point of view to the design of content. It helps to communicate both simple and complex messages while enhancing a design through the unique vision and skill of the selected illustrator.”

“A Rationale for the Use of Illustration” published by Creativebusiness.com, offers further insight by noting that the new way of communicating in an age of tech-driven sameness is often the least technical and most unusual. Illustration cuts through today’s visual clutter to get ideas and products noticed. Illustration can:

  • Provide the best solution to a problem. There often is no better way to capture and manipulate emotion, atmosphere, flavor and mood to validate an idea or maximize a product’s allure.
  • Offer more flexibility. Reality has distinct limitations, but illustration can give personality and form to intangible ideas and concepts for which there are no practical photographic solutions. Think about:
    • Presenting products not yet built
    • Bringing back people and events long past
    • Revealing hidden sections
    • Communicating products that are in the works
    • Adding, moving or eliminating surroundings
    • Emphasizing details
  • Reduce costs. Not only are there a growing number of stock illustration sites, but also keep in mind that virtually 100 percent of the costs of a commissioned illustration go directly into the creativity. There aren’t always travel costs, elaborate sets and other costs often incurred with a custom photo shoot.

If you’re considering stock—or just want to get inspired by the great illustrative styles that are out there—check out these sites:

http://www.hireanillustrator.com
http://www.behance.com
http://www.istockphoto.com
http://www.veer.com
http://www.gettyimages.com

When working directly with illustrators, we recommend creating a standard form that outlines your licensing requirements. For example, having a contract that says, “We pay $X for Y license for Z time or Q medium,” makes it really easy to accept because the illustrator knows how much, for what, for how long and where.

Illustration Meets Technology

Keep in mind that illustrators haven’t been lost in a time warp. In fact, many illustrators use Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and other programs to create artwork that may include photography and other graphic elements. Ben Heine, a Brussels-based artist, combines photography and illustration to generate interesting images and new spaces that are comic, fun and a surreal. A new visual concept invented by Heine in 2010, the “Pencil vs. Camera” series encourages an expanded view of an otherwise normal subject. This technique has many possibilities for use in advertising, packaging and graphic communications.

Technology can also be used to animate illustrations in order to tell a story or convey an idea. Animated GIFs are a way to add animation to email campaigns (with caveats for newer versions of Outlook*) and Flash banners can be used in many magazine websites.**


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This banner ad for Prinova is a perfect example of using illustration to creatively communicate how customers can use Prinova’s ingredients in their food manufacturing solutions. Photography also would not have worked as well to introduce the new company tagline. If you’re reading this from a smart phone, the backup JPG is displayed.

Remember that Original Artwork Belongs to the Illustrator

AIGA points out that an artist’s copyright is owned by the artist and is protected by the 1976 Copyright Act from the moment it is created. This protection covers the work for the artist’s lifetime plus 70 years. If agreed to in writing, the copyright may be assigned elsewhere, usually for an additional fee.

But original artwork is provided only temporarily to licensees for reproduction. Even the purchase of “exclusive rights” represents rights to reproduce the artwork only. The original illustration remains the property of the illustrator unless it is purchased explicitly and separately from the rights.

Original artwork also cannot be changed without the creator’s approval. Changes to an illustrator’s work must be made by the illustrator, unless you secure permission from the illustrator first. Many people are simply not aware of this law and unintentionally violate it. Please take the time to learn the rules of the road.

Call an Illustrator Today

There you have it—lots of reasons to incorporate more illustration into your communications.  So get moving. Or do I have to draw you a picture?

By Larry Bauer

*Outlook 2007/2010/2013 and Windows Mobile 7 will display the first frame of an animated GIF so keep that in mind when building animations for email use. Most other email apps will indeed take advantage of the full animation.
**While Flash is often an accepted format for website advertising, always provide a backup JPG in the event that users are viewing the website without Flash, such as via iPhones or iPads.

Sometimes the simplest ideas are revolutionary.

ripon-revolutionWe created a campaign to help marketers think more broadly about reaching prospects. In the age of social media, many forget that integration of multiple channels wields more sticking power than a more narrow focus.

Promotional campaign for Ripon Printers: print and digital ads, direct mail, white paper

Series of The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts now available online.

mb-2010-do-dont-v22bMissed Getting Your Copy of The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts? Not to worry. We’ve made digital versions of all three volumes available via SlideShare. The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts is a collection of the most viewed “Do’s & Don’ts” published by our MondoBeat newsletter including:

  • Taglines
  • Print Advertising
  • Referrals
  • Trade Shows
  • Corporate Brochures
  • Direct Mail
  • Thought Leadership
  • White Papers

Simply visit our SlideShare page to download your complimentary copy.

Business Gift Giving on a Budget.

  1. Give a donation with a twist. Donations in honor of your customers aren’t novel, but getting them involved in the act is a fun twist. Select four or five charities and establish a pool of money (you don’t need to reveal the size of the pool). Send a letter explaining the program and ask them to designate the charity of their choice from the list. Customers can respond through a postage-paid postcard, an email or a personalized URL that takes them to their own landing page. You simply divide the money by the percentage of votes and have the charity send a recognition letter to each participant without stating the amount of the gift. Low cost. Multiple touches. Customer involvement.
  2. Send a product. This doesn’t work so well if your product is cement, but lots of companies make consumer or business products that are appropriate for gift giving. Or perhaps your company makes a range of products where the customer can make a choice. One of our favorite examples was an ad agency with a client that manufactured a line of high-end “arty” coasters that looked really cool on your table. They came in a wide range of choices, and the agency let each of their customers select a set from the brochure the agency had created for its client.
  3. Get intellectual. A popular business book (especially one on marketing) can make a thoughtful, moderately priced executive gift that doesn’t break the bank. It also gives you an opportunity to personalize the selection based on what you know about your client and provides future opportunities to discuss the content. If you’re not sure what book they would want or you’re afraid you’ll buy something they already own, then give them a few choices and benefit from the interaction.
  4. Gift the group. You can save money by sending a share-the-gift food item to the entire department in care of your lead contact. These types of group gifts tend to fly under corporate radar and can save you money if you’ve been providing a lot of individual gifts. You might also score points by paying attention to your customers’ employee health objectives. If they’ve been making a big push on the health and wellness front, try to find foods that are tasty but are also reasonably good for you.
  5. Do a service day. Don’t have any budget at all? Donate a service day (or morning or afternoon) to an area charitable organization. Your local homeless shelter, food bank or no-kill animal shelter are especially appropriate for the season and the economic climate. You can add to your time by having employees collect items from the organization’s urgent needs list. Whatever you do, be sure to take your camera along and share the story with your customers. Communicate that you performed the service in their honor in lieu of business gifts.

So what’s our holiday gift to you?

mb-2010-do-dont-v22bWe’ve made all of The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts tip books available for download! The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts is a collection of the most viewed “Do’s & Don’ts” published by our MondoBeat newsletter including:

  • Taglines
  • Print Advertising
  • Referrals
  • Trade Shows
  • Corporate Brochures
  • Direct Mail
  • Thought Leadership
  • White Papers

Simply visit our SlideShare page to download your complimentary copy.

The Growing Case for Video Marketing.

Everything today is about adding value, and that’s the number one reason to use video marketing. It plugs interaction — including face-to-face interaction — into your website, print promotions and events. You get a unique opportunity to blend your company’s personality and message into either an online or offline experience.

Still not sold? Here are 10 additional reasons to use video marketing:

  1. Raises your website’s search engine results — web crawlers recognize video.
  2. Improves the potential for your message to go viral through the social networks.
  3. Increases the average amount of time visitors spend at your site.
  4. Makes you stand out as an expert since not as many sites use video.
  5. Offers opportunities to provide a tremendously rich offline media experience — stuff a disk with MP3s, video, personal messages, mobile apps, high-res product photos, web links and free downloads.
  6. Augments and supports your existing online strategy when used with direct mail, providing a seamless physical/digital experience that encourages double-digit response rates according to research studies.
  7. Appeals to people who like to see something before they read it.
  8. Provides an opportunity to educate customers about a product or service.
  9. Puts a face on your company and builds your brand.
  10. Engages your customers’ senses, triggering emotional reactions that influence buying decisions in ways that static content can’t.

Professional vs. Homegrown Video.

The nice thing about digital video is that it doesn’t always have to be high end and expensive. The key is to know when you can use your flip camera and when you need a professional team.

And really, the rules are pretty simple:

  • Homegrown video is fine for website demos, new product intros, how-to presentations, brief commentaries and the like. For example, interLinkONE, an integrated marketing solutions provider, has a media page that features short videos covering topics ranging from using QR Codes in a printed catalog to live reports from their booth at a trade show. Homegrown solutions work great for these purposes where immediacy is important and viewers don’t expect premium content with high-end production.
  • Professional video is a must when the production represents the official, animated face of your brand. That’s when you need a quality script, title slides, smooth transitions, excellent lighting and sound, multiple shooting perspectives and top-notch editing. It can also be a good investment when the video will have multiple purposes — website, direct mail, trade shows—and a longer life span. You also need to consider professional video whenever your audience is more sophisticated and has high expectations.

What’s the Right Length?

Everyone wants to know how long is too long. And the general consensus for the appropriate length of online video is one to four minutes. Attention spans seem to grow shorter everyday, especially online.

But purpose means a lot, too. So a one- or two-minute product intro is not the same as a four- to six-minute in-depth case study.

You can also cut longer videos into segments that allow people to access only the parts that interest them. In general, you need to think of the video as an overview from which you can then link buyers to more detailed information in print or electronic form.

Regardless of length, relevance dictates how long people will view the video. Provide information that people want to know, and they’re far more likely to stay for the duration. When you’re trying to keep their attention, it pays to be tactical in selecting content and forget the broad-brush stuff.

Video Media Types.

Video is definitely an evolving medium, and different media types are emerging including video:

  • Product demos
  • Product overviews
  • Testimonials
  • News releases
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • Corporate presentations
  • Commercials
  • Trade show and event previews
  • “How-to” demos
  • Blog posts

As these media types mature, more specific standards for length and other factors will emerge as well. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to experiment. Viewership will tell you quickly enough what’s working and what’s not.

By Larry Bauer

Want Expert Advice?

MondoVox Creative Group can help you create online video, DVDs and CDs that result in more customer interaction and sales. For more information, email Julia Moran Martz.

You can connect with Julia Moran Martz on LinkedIn. Or follow her on Twitter.

Do’s and Don’ts of Video Marketing.

Take advantage of video’s remarkable ability to add value to your marketing program. Here’s how to ensure that videos will gain the positive attention that helps set your organization apart from the competition.

Do

  • Display your brand logo occasionally throughout the video to help build recognition.
  • Offer both low- and high-resolution options to accommodate different connection speeds.
  • Select content with a tactical perspective.
  • Experiment with different media types.
  • Break longer videos into segments with the ability to move from one section to the next and to jump between sections.
  • Connect people to more in-depth print and online information.
  • Include rich media video with direct mail packages for added lift.
  • Invest more in videos that will serve multiple purposes and have a longer life.

Don’t

  • Assume that everyone has the video player you choose—offer a link to a free download.
  • Forget that relevance rules in keeping peoples’ attention.
  • Overlook the value of a DVD to support your online strategy.
  • Use homegrown videos for corporate branding purposes or with sophisticated audiences that expect more.
  • Hesitate to use homegrown video for a product, service or event that has a short timeline and lower ROI potential.
  • Neglect to post your videos to YouTube and other video sharing sites in addition to your company’s website.
  • Fail to take advantage of the many free and low-cost video publishing, editing and post-production services that are available online.
  • Make excuses for not creating videos—go out and do it.

By Larry Bauer

Making Your Brand Memorable in Video.

Video creation is really only limited by your creativity, communications expertise and production ability of your team, whether you’re creating a professional marketing video or a low-end social media style video. Most video software tools allow for the inclusion of graphics, sound tracks, specific brand colors and a myriad of special effects. Even though the tools may allow you to create exploding logos, flames, and wacky transitions, try to restrain yourself and use only techniques that support the brand. Using too much cheese can look rather… “schlocky” and even a little desperate. Talented video teams are able to find brand-appropriate ways of grabbing attention while supporting the brand personality.

Tips for Incorporating Your Brand into Any Video.

Here are some video tips and examples that work whether you’re creating a high-end, $20,000 video or a low-end ad hoc video shot to share a quick-hit message on your company blog.

Graphics: The most obvious method for incorporating your brand into your video is with graphics, starting with your logo. Be cautious how you treat your logo and ensure its integrity is not lessened by any special treatments. Subtle logo treatments can include slight motion of a single element, having the logo enter from outside the frame or change color. Even incorporating a shine could work. Should you do all at once? Of course not. Choose carefully and wisely and don’t overdo it.

Other graphics can be incorporated to ensure your video supports your brand’s style guide. Fonts, color fields, tables, graphs, charts and text like testimonials can be used in the same way as your printed literature. Stick to your corporate fonts and you’re already partway there. The only limitation may be if you’re creating low-end ad-hoc video on your PC or iPhone, you won’t have the same graphic capabilities that a professional video studio will have. That’s when you resort to the Web fonts listed in your brand’s style guide.

Color: Color is incorporated into video in two ways:

  1. Graphics
  2. Scenes and people that are videoed

Adhere to color values from your style guide when incorporating graphics into your video and ensure they are applied appropriately. In the Ripon Printers video we created, each service area segment utilized the corporate color assigned to that service area: spice for Premedia, green for Printing and Bindery, burgundy for Mailing and Fulfillment, etc. Likewise, use these colors in graphics used in your video.

Color can also be used to provide brand cohesion when filming people, places and things for your video. For instance, all the employees interviewed for the Ripon Printers video were instructed to wear shirts that reflected the four corporate colors. No other colors were allowed. This kept everyone looking like a cohesive team.

Imagery: If you need stock images to convey specific messages, try to use images that are consistent with your brand look and feel. It’s also good to steer clear of clichés like shaking hands and obviously young models conducting important meetings. We always try to use shots of people who look authentic, not so pretty or handsome that they’re unbelievable.

Keep in mind too that you can use still photographs to great affect in a video. There were some instances when shooting the above Gourmetceuticals video where shooting with a still camera was the only option because of the plantation’s terrain. But by incorporating subtle motion with still shots, it still works.

Sound: Just as there are royalty-free and rights-managed stock images, there are many libraries of sounds for video production. There are different types of sounds used in video:

  1. Introduction background.
  2. Transitions between segments.
  3. Closing background.
  4. Brand punctuation. (Remember the simple jingle associated with Intel’s “Intel Inside” campaign? Or NBC’s 3-note jingle?)

If you’re creating a series of videos over the long haul, consider incorporating the same sound into the files. This becomes another feature that customers will learn to recognize as your brand.

Script: If your video is professional quality, of course you’ll have a scriptwriter on the team. This is not a standard copywriter, but rather someone who understands flow, audio, and most importantly, the spoken versus printed word.

If your video is just you or you’re shooting at a trade show, you’re less likely to have a formal script. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least draft your points and practice speaking first. Remember, while creating friendly, social-media oriented videos is affected by the tools you use, your comfort in front of the lens and your friendliness are going to affect the video’s success more.

Tools for Ad Hoc Videos.

Even the tools for shooting on-the-fly, low-end videos range in price tag from $100 to hundreds of dollars. But if your goal is to simply capture a quick moment at a trade show or share a quick thought on your blog, your iPhone or camera built into your computer will do the trick without a lot of fuss. Of course, limit the length of these type of low-end personalized videos. Their purpose is different from the polished video you hand out on DVD or post to your website.

iPhone: This is the easiest, while the mic on the phone itself leaves oodles to be desired. When shooting someone else, you can easily use the mic on the ear buds to get much better results. @jonathan360 created a great sample video to show you the difference when shooting with background noise.

You can also purchase several external mics that offer various quality options. Here’s a quick video from @DizzyDougTV comparing three models of mini-mics that ranging in price from $15 to about $100.

Consumer Flip Cameras: Now if you want to do an even better job but still don’t want to spend time scripting and shooting a pro-level video, my pal Heidi recorded her review of the Flip Ultra HD versus the Kodak Zi8. Yes, it means another gadget to haul around, but these models are a step up from your iPhone’s capabilities. Heidi points out the pros and cons of each in her quick video shot from her computer.

Before Hitting Record.

Remember that whether investing in a high-end production or a low-end recording, don’t lose sight of your brand. Even if you’re shooting low-end, remember to incorporate appropriate colors, sound and graphics. Most of the consumer-level tools allow you to at the least add your logo without flames ;-) and control transitions (don’t give your viewers a migraine, eh?)

But primarily, I’d like you to consider both types of video and use them where appropriate for your customers.

By Julia Moran Martz

Check out additional videos from folks referenced in this article:

The Big Fish — video production studio that created our Gourmetceuticals videos

Absolute Vision Productions — video production studio that created our Ripon Printers videos

Heidi Thorne, Promo with Purpose — Master of all things promotional

@jonathan360 — photographer

@DizzyDougTV — technical guru

Do’s and Don’ts of Dimensional Packages.

You can create a buzz with dimensional packages, to say nothing of generating valuable leads. Here’s how to ensure that recipients will not only open your dimensional package, but will open it first.

Do

  • Put something inside that is valuable, fun—or preferably both.
  • Make the sales message simple, to the point and easy to find.
  • Use a parcel delivery service rather than the USPS, if possible.
  • Tie the contents into what you are selling, though you don’t always need to be literal—copy can make a strong tie-in.
  • Use a standard size box if you want to minimize costs.
  • Think beyond paperboard if you have the budget and really want to stand out—try wood or fabric, for instance.
  • Incorporate other channels—a pURL or a QR Code on an enclosure can add more involvement and personalization.
  • Demand accountability from the sales force—involve them as much as possible.

Don’t

  • Use a dimensional package with the intention of closing a sale—it’s a lead generator.
  • Make the contents so expensive they look like a bribe, though you can get by with a bit more if your target is owners of independent businesses.
  • Think that boxes are your only alternative—tubes as well as lumpy mailings or sturdy, gusseted envelopes can also work.
  • Get lost in cleverness at the expense of an action-generating message.
  • Do anything that would make your package look potentially dangerous or prankish.
  • Forget to use a stringent pre-qualification process—dimensional mailers are too expensive to waste.
  • Send more mailers than your team can follow-up with promptly.

By Larry Bauer

mb-2010-do-dont-v22bMissed Getting Your Copy of The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts? Not to worry. We’ve made digital versions available via SlideShare. The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts is a collection of the most viewed “Do’s & Don’ts” published by our MondoBeat newsletter including:

  • Taglines
  • Print Advertising
  • Referrals
  • Trade Shows
  • Corporate Brochures
  • Direct Mail
  • Thought Leadership
  • White Papers

Simply visit our SlideShare page to download your complimentary copy.

Creating Clutter Busting Dimensional Direct Mail.

I know it sometimes seems that you have to do something REALLY BIG to break through the mailroom clutter. But honestly, size doesn’t matter. You don’t need to build a Taj Mahal for your prospects. Even those C-level folks.

What you MUST do is make sure your mailing’s message supports your goals and is relevant to your target market. And above all, match the quality of your 3D object to your brand.

For example, if your key marketing message is about protecting your clients, don’t mail something like the cheapest umbrella that’s going to break after the third or fifth use. That will reflect poorly on your key brand message. Likewise, don’t overshoot your brand. Sending out gold-plated key fobs could be perceived as bribery if your brand is all about affordable office supplies, for instance.

The best way to start is with your creative brief: define your goals and targets, and THEN your message will naturally follow. Assuming you’ve written your creative brief, here are some examples of 3D mailing types to get your creative juices flowing.

3D Campaign Types.

I categorize 3D mailings into three types:

1. The fun gadget:

Stromberg Allen direct mail series: Even though Stromberg Allen gained approved vendor status with several new clients, they still needed to snag the attention of the clients’ internal buyers. As a printer of K-12 learning tools, they have the capability to produce very complex dimensional products using many components, and they wanted to demonstrate this expertise. We created a campaign of four boxed items that displayed their ability to produce fun, yet educational tools by marrying a gadget with a marketing message and booklets inside the boxes. The sales team then received instructions to send these to their specific targets one week apart until they snagged a meeting. Without sales’ cooperation and follow through, an expensive campaign like this would be wasted. Be sure to train your entire team before implementation of any campaign.

Benefit Downside
Fun to receive; if done right, can be memorable AND get your message across. May end up with kid at home if it’s TOO fun, which defeats your purpose of having it stick around as a reminder on the recipient’s desk.

2. The helpful tool:

Ripon Printers printing tools series: Ripon Printers’ capabilities include practically anything you’d want in a printer: digital/offset/web, cold and heatset, fulfillment, custom ink jetting, list hygiene and maintenance, catalog/education/direct marketing expertise, and web-storefront capabilities. To spread the word of their wide range of expertise, MondoVox concepted and designed a series of handy Tips Books (one per service area) and a video that would serve multiple marketing tasks. Not only do sales representatives distribute these tools to their existing customers, MondoVox also created a multipart direct mail campaign targeting new prospects. We created a handy book box for the tips books and a disc mailer for the video DVD. Ripon uses these 3D mailings along with a personalized introductory brochure to complete a three-part campaign for all new prospect lists.

This is a great example of how you can be 3D even if using relatively flat objects like books or DVDs. No need to throw in a pen just to get a bump on your envelope. It’s also a good example of a series within a series; the tips books can be mailed individually with the first one going out with the book box and the others arriving one week apart until the recipient fills the box.

Benefit Downside
If it’s truly a great tool, it will have a high sticky factor. In fact, don’t be surprised if prospects take your tools from job to job if they find them particularly valuable. Can come off as matter-of-fact and serious rather than providing any sort of clever gotcha moment. BUT if concepted carefully, a tool series can accomplish both.

3. Custom product samples:

Gourmetceuticals Taste Test Kit: Being new to the market, Gourmetceuticals needed to quickly convince food ingredient buyers that their nutritional ingredients did not impart negative flavors in final products but did offer all the benefits of nutritional supplements. We created a Taste-Test Kit using a granola product developed by a partnership between Nuts Are Good and Gourmetceuticals. The granola packs were designed to resemble grocery-ready food items while containing technical information directed to the buyer. Accompanying the samples was a cover letter and instructional booklet that walked the buyer through tasting the product, ultimately convincing them that Gourmetceuticals’ ingredients provide added nutrition while not imparting negative flavors or aftertastes. Careful pre-qualification of a limited number of targets allowed us to mail the kits via a parcel delivery service.

These kits were so successful that we expanded to include a print ad + landing page kit request to attract additional buyers.

Benefit Downside
By carefully controlling the message with a custom product sample, you have the opportunity to demonstrate your product AND get the meeting. Seemingly the most boring of all options, BUT could actually be quite effective if matched with a catchy message and the right target market. Also more labor intensive than just ordering a box of pens, but the potential payoff is much greater.

Don’t Be a Joke-in-a-Box.

While everyone wants to do the fun, gadget-type of campaign, that’s not always the most appropriate or most effective 3D object to incorporate. Consider carefully your brand reputation and key marketing messages to determine what type is best for you.

By Julia Moran Martz

Grandiose Generalizations About Postcard Design.

Think of a postcard almost like a combination of a billboard on the highway, key messages from a brochure and a call to action from your sell sheet. You’ve got barely seconds to capture your recipient and THEN, you have to give them enough of the details to beguile them. Grab their attention like a billboard but provide follow through like a brochure—that’s the trick.

Design Generalizations for Postcards.

Remember, a generalization is just that and there will always be exceptions. Here’s my list of design tips for smart postcard designers:

  • All caps, bold, condensed and italic is likely not the most readable treatment for your hard-working headline. You must find a balance between a visually strong headline and one that’s easily read. Select a typeface that works, and don’t over embellish it. Do all this while staying true to your brand image.
  • Images should be unique and compelling IF you have them. Keep in mind that it’s not 100% necessary to have an image with your headline; a headline could be the main visual in and of itself. But if you include an image, choose one that’s not likely to be overly used in your market, or have an image shot custom for you.
  • Don’t put a strong message on a wimpy card stock. The post office’s guidelines are the minimum and are not what we recommend. The sturdier the better and not so shiny it squeaks or reflects light rather than your message. Think of this postcard as your handshake with prospects when you’re not available. Keep it firm and not too squeaky.
  • Consider a straight perforation across one end for any coupon detachment if you can’t afford a fancy die to cut the shape you want. Often, a single straight perf will be a tad cheaper. You just need to design it into your card creatively.
  • Skip the paragraphs of prose on your card and go for short-and-sweet messages. And keep the quantity of those to the bare minimum. Filling your card with FREE FREE FREE and loads of platitudinous drivel will make your key message and call to action hard to find quickly. All you do is end up in the trash sooner.
  • Respect the reader. Despite what some advertisers in the 70’s would have us believe, customers are smart and getting smarter. They learn from each other and share information online and off. So make your message/point/deal intelligent and easy to pass on in other media.
  • Don’t even think about clichés. They don’t position you as better or unique.
  • I know Larry said in his Do’s and Don’ts list to not use type smaller than 8 point. I’m going to go one better and advise you to keep it 10 points or larger. Remember, folks are reading often at arms length in their entryway when they get home from a long day at work. Lighting in entryways is often insufficient for small text.

Postcard Anatomy 101 and Gallery.

Ripon Postcard FrontFront: Capture with a compelling headline and/or visual. Don’t over do it, just get them to stop and read or take the card to their desk.

Back: Follow through with the details (But not too many. This is not the place for your legal counsel to practice writing warranties.)

Prioritize your copy by what gets read first. In roughly this order, humans see visual, read headline, captions, offer and then details. So no skimping on captions and offer copy. Get it right and make it work hard for its space.

Ripon Postcard Back

Use white space to direct the reader to what you want them to read first and second. Don’t worry about third. They may not get that far.

 

One Hit Wonders.

The cards below were designed as single-hit mailers, just weeks prior to a key trade show. They included pURLs (personalized URLs) on the back to provide landing pages specific to each recipient.

Ripon Printers Postcard Singles

Cost-saving tip: pURLs were inkjet printed on the cards after they were run on a conventional offset press. You could also use variable data printing directly on a digital press and accomplish both printing and customization simultaneously. Determining which is most cost effective for your job is a balance between quality and number of inks printed.

Stromberg Allen tri-fold postcard

The above tri-fold card was designed as a single-hit, pre-show mailer, just weeks prior to a key trade show. It included a teaser image to get them to open, and then followed through with booth number and incentive to visit during the show.

Three Times or More is a Charm.

Recchia Postcard Campaign

You can also create a series of more than the standard three cards and schedule it to run for several months. Also don’t feel pressured into doing what everyone else does: try a different colored paper stock, try illustrations instead of photography, mix it up and be different to stand out from the crowd.

And one last thing: DO schedule overlapping smaller quantity mailings of your cards so you have time to follow up between each. You are planning on following up via phone after mailing aren’t you?

By Julia Moran Martz