5 Ways to Make Your Newsletters Shine

What’s so great about vacation? It’s a chance to cut loose and take a break from the ordinary!

But vacation just wouldn’t be as fun if it wasn’t anchored to the sense of consistent routine in our lives. In order to vacate, you have to have a place or a routine to break AWAY from.

A Foundation to Build From

The same is true in design.

To have the freedom to challenge the norm, some type of coherent foundation must first be established. This is particularly true in multi-page publications like newsletters. One of the most important features of multi-page publications is consistency. So, before you go rogue in design, first you need to ensure each page looks like it belongs to the whole.

How can you create this sense of cohesion? With repeating colors, icons, fonts, bulleted lists that repeat a formatting style, matching pull-out quotes, and more.

Here are five strategies for organizing your next newsletter so you compel viewers to read and respond:

1. Avoid a different typeface or formatting arrangement for every article.

Instead, create a strong, consistent structure throughout the pages and add flair with boxed photos, pull-out quotes, or just ONE free-flowing graphic per page.

2. Make headlines clear and bold.

Most people skim newsletters, so headline text should be straightforward and easy to read. Use leading questions or creative subheadings to build suspense and entice the viewer to read more.

3. Keep alignment consistent.

To build an organized page, choose an alignment and stick with it.

If everything is left-aligned, photos should be cropped to this sharp margin as well. 

Does this mean you can’t ever break the rules of the system you’ve created? No! A firm set of columns actually creates MORE space to break out of the grid. But when you do this, do it with gusto! Items that are just a smidge out of the normal alignment will look like a mistake.

4. Avoid Helvetica and Arial

If your newsletter seems drab, juice it up with heavy sans serif typefaces that create a strong visual hierarchy.

Often people default to Helvetica or Arial, but these just aren’t bold enough to create a strong contrast. Instead, invest in a sans serif family that includes a heavy bold version as well as a light subheading complement (such as Eurostile, Formata, Syntax, Frutiger, or Myriad). You’ll be amazed at the difference this contrast makes.

5. Create a Compelling Call to Action

Printed newsletters are a great way to build goodwill and reinforce brand awareness, but at the end of the day, you want readers to take action.

When scripting your text, ask yourself, “if the reader was going to act on the content in this newsletter, what would I want them to DO?” Brainstorm many call-to-action phrases and places they can be used in your design, and make this journey easy for the eyes to follow.

Ideally, there should be a call to action on each page with one very prominent “next step” CTA near the end of your piece. Here are a handful examples:

  • Subscribe Now!
  • Sign Me Up!
  • Activate _____ Today!
  • Find Out How!
  • Claim Your Discount!
  • Try it Yourself!
  • Schedule (or Book) __________!
  • Register Now!
  • Call for a Free Estimate!

Make Them Look Forward to Your Next Newsletter

Time is a precious commodity, and the moments people invest in reading your newsletter are important.

To make the most of this unique privilege, build a strong design grid with a few spectacular deviations. Create visually engaging publications with helpful takeaways, and your newsletters will be something your audience looks forward to reading!

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Three Fantastic Print Ads (and how to make yours more memorable)

Does your brain ever feel tired? Some days, that’s probably due to information overload.

According to ad agency Red Crow Marketing, the average person living in the city 30 years ago saw up to 2,000 ad messages a day. Today, experts estimate we are exposed to over 5,000 brands per day (though research suggests only three percent of ads make a lasting impression).

Want to increase exposure and impact for your marketing messages?

To stick with viewers, your print ads need to be creative and clear! Here are three compelling print ad examples, with a few insights into what makes them so great.

A Better Job is Waiting

Created by Joe Public United, this print campaign for a job portal aims to motivate people to stop slogging it out in a job they don’t like. Smartly retouched photos show bored workers at their desks, workers who sat still for so long that mold started growing on their bodies.

Need the motivation to break out of your slump? There’s nothing like spiders building webs in your hair (while you play computer solitaire) to kick your complacent butt into gear.

The Secret to Success: This ad is powerful because it resonates with the job portal’s target customers in a way that elicits extreme emotion (i.e., dismay or disgust). Move your prospects forward with messages that ring true and deliver a message that is personally meaningful to your viewers.

You Eat What You Touch

Love dogs? You might feel a little less inclined after viewing this ad.

This unconventional ad shaped a pet Pug into a perfect replica of a loaf of bread on a cutting board to stress the importance of using soap. Something about fuzzy bread just makes a viewer shudder (while immediately taking action with good hygiene).

The Secret to Success: This ad is impossible to ignore because the visual is surprising and memorable. Viewers have to look twice to find the Pug on the cutting board, and once the image hits home, the message does too. Humor is linked to higher recall and increased sharing, and funny brands are seen as more relatable, human, and trustworthy. Have fun and make people laugh with your surprising, memorable print ads!

Neighbors

In 2010, FedEx wanted to display the accessibility of its global shipping options.

A rustic map of North and South America showed a man reaching out of a window near Florida to hand a Fed Ex box across the ocean to a woman reaching out her window in Brazil. DDB Brazil used a simple visual to convince viewers that sending a package to another country takes as little time as it would to place it in the hands of a neighbor.

The Secret to Success: By using a map of Brazil as well as an easy-to-understand visual concept, DDB was able to tap into the needs and desires of its local market. When crafting your ad, look to clearly communicate how your product or service fits into consumers’ lives or work, and how it can make them better, happier, and more fulfilled.

Tactile, Memorable Print

Print is tactile. Use this to your advantage by creating ads that are relatable, memorable, and clear. Increasing print engagement will help your advertising break through the clutter of not only the hundreds of ads people see each day but the thousands of brands that are competing for your customer’s attention.

Four Ways to Track Your Print Marketing

When you call someone on the phone, are you glad when they pick up? If you had to pay for each call, would you be especially glad when they picked up?

Marketing is essentially a call to your customers, a financial investment you make in hopes that people will “pick up.”

And print is one of the best mediums for engaging your audience.

Direct mail response rates for print are much higher than e-mail response rates (4.4% versus 0.12%). 60% of consumers said receiving and handling tangible objects leaves a lasting mental impression on them. And 57% of people say they feel more valued when they receive print marketing from brands.

When you place a call, are your customers picking up?

When you send advertising through print, you’ll have a better estimate if you are tracking responses. Every business using print marketing needs an effective testing system. Tracking your marketing will help you answer two questions:

  • Are your marketing dollars resulting in leads or conversions?
  • What specific parts of your marketing are responsible for prospect visits or sales revenue?

Four Ways to Track Your Print Marketing

Here are four ways to find out:

1. Unique Promo Codes

Promo codes are like hashtags, but better.

They are fun, expressive, and they bring tangible savings to your clients. Offer distinct coupon codes in print pieces you want to test, and be sure the call to action is strong and clear (e.g., “Get 25% off patio decor by presenting this card in stores or using the code ‘LOVE25PATIO’). If your customer uses the code, you’ll know they’ve responded.

2. QR Codes

How do you build bridges between digital and print advertising?

One easy technique is to include a QR code to drive traffic to your landing page. By adding these handy tools to your flyers, postcards, or brochures, you can track relevant info while storing data, location, and text. You can also experiment with social media hashtags to track success and increase online engagement.

3. Distinct Online Landing Pages

Online landing pages can be created specifically for promotion through your print ad (for example, see Uber’s landing page targeting new riders here).

While your website homepage typically offers an introduction to your business, a promotional landing page:

  • Is designed to receive traffic from specific sources
  • Prompts visitors to take one well-defined action
  • Stays focused on a single topic or offer
  • Omits or downplays site navigation options

Beyond narrow landing pages, you can also record general web traffic during a campaign to note whether a spike in visits may indicate a particular ad’s effectiveness.

4. Asking Customers

Want to know what’s on their mind? Ask them!

While you may not be able to connect with every customer, take time to ask new clients how they heard about your business. Speak with people face-to-face and you may gain insight into their motivations, frustrations, or preferred benefits.

Also consider adding a drop-down element to your website to ask how customers were introduced to your business (direct mail, word-of-mouth, social media, etc). Finally, including a unique “point of contact” email address or phone number (specific to the campaign) on your print materials to make response tracking easier.

Record and Recalibrate

From big business to small firms, every business using print should track and recalibrate based on results.

Print ads are more compelling when they use clear calls to action and high-quality pieces. Ready to set up a campaign with distinct tracking points? We’re happy to help if you have questions! 

Inspire Consumers Through Action-Oriented Catalogs

In the late ’90s, Scott Kerslake was working at an infotech company in California, while passionately surfing and cycling on the side.

During long bike rides with friends, Kerslake noticed a trend: women complaining about a lack of fashionable female sportswear. Women wanted durable athletic wear that also looked cute on everyday outings.

Kerslake didn’t hesitate. He quit his job, raised $700,000 in capital, and started a women’s athletic clothing company called Athleta. By early 2018, Athleta had been purchased by Gap and its sales grew more than 25 percent every year since 2012.

Athleta attributes this success to a thriving online and catalog-based business model: as early as 2007, Athleta was shipping out 21 million catalogs with $37 million in sales.

Catalogs may seem like an outdated way to grab shoppers, but Athleta has maintained retail footing by using action-packed spreads (ladies trekking up mountains, paddle boarding across bays, and demonstrating impressive flexibility in yoga pants) and by focusing on racial and generational diversity to inspire a wide range of women:

“We’re not like, ‘Oh, it’s all about millennials.’ We aren’t chasing them,” says Nancy Green, Athleta’s CEO. “We inspire [women] to keep living this full, healthy, active, rich life, no matter what her body type is, no matter her age.”

In the catalogs, this looks like leggings, swimsuits, hoodies, and capri pants. In sales, it looks like $1 billion in annual sales in 2018.

Why Catalogs Still Work

Ready to give catalogs or booklets a second look for your marketing mix?

You should.

Studies from the Data & Marketing Association have shown that the response rate for catalogs has increased in recent years partially because millennials enjoy catalogs:

“Millennials stand out a bit higher than other generations in terms of engaging with mail,” said Neil O’Keefe, the association’s senior vice president of marketing and content. “It’s unique to the generation that hasn’t experienced the amount of mail of past generations.”

O’Keefe says this curiosity drives a higher level of curiosity and sales than digital marketing.

“Millennials are very engaged by imagery, and the catalog really allows that to stand out. So, the response rate there is very different than what you would experience with a display ad, even an email. The response rate for a printed piece has been on the rise.”

Millennials may be particularly interested in catalogs, but they’re not alone. Hamilton Davison, president of the American Catalog Mailers Association, said half of all Americans order from catalogs even if they don’t immediately flip through them. U.S. Postal Service studies found that, after periodicals and bills, catalogs attract the most eyeballs, getting as much attention as personal correspondence.

“Catalogs come uninvited in the home, and yet they’re welcome,” Davison said.

To maximize your catalog impact, here are a few tips to consider:

Go Visual

The best catalogs are highly visual.

Environmental photography, imagery of products in real-life settings, and photos of people using your products are the most effective.

Organize for Sales

Place top-selling products on the outside edges of the page as readers typically start at the top right corner and sweep back toward the left.

Cross-sell between products with callouts, copy, or by putting products together on a page with companion discounts.

Simplify Ordering

Catalogs should give several options for purchasing, including toll-free numbers, websites, and even mail-in order forms that make it easier for customers to track preferences as they shop.

Highlight ordering options on every spread and make it easy for your customers to buy.

Catalog shoppers are often more valuable because they become brand enthusiasts that tend to spend more overall. Want to talk options? Give us a call or visit our website to get started!

Craft First-Class Flyers with 5 Quick Tricks

Want to grab attention for your event, promotion, or group?

Flyers are a low-cost form of mass communication that can be personally delivered, distributed through mail, posted in public places, or sent via e-mail. Flyers are fun to create and provide a great place to experiment with unusual images or layouts. As you explore the possibilities, here are five areas to sharpen your design:

1. Magnetic Focal Point

When you begin your design, clearly identify the theme of your message.

Look for an image or headline that best communicates this, and build your entire design around it. Every flyer should have one thing on the page that is huge, dominant, or captivating. If you catch their eye with this focal point, they are more likely to read the rest of your text. 

2. Logical Design Flow

After the focal point, your flyer design should have a sensible layout that intentionally leads the reader through the page.

Strong subheads should allow viewers to quickly scan the flyer. If the skim layers don’t interest them, people won’t read the copy. Designs should include engaging color and graphic contrast. If everything is large, nothing can really grab a reader’s attention. Sequence a logical flow: left to right, top to bottom, or using visual cues like numbers, arrows, or a “map” of dashed lines.

3. Strategic Repetition

Whether your headline uses a playful typeface, script style, or an ordinary font with unusual colors, consider bringing a little of that font into the body of the text for repetition.

This may mean using one letter or one word in that typeface or highlighting key words or phrases in each section of the design to make them pop. A strong contrast of typefaces will add interest to your flyer, but intentional design repetition will bring a sense of integrity and solidarity to your piece.

4. Cohesive Alignment

Choose one alignment for the entire flyer.

Don’t center the headline then set the body copy flush left. Don’t center everything on the page but also squish extra elements in the bottom corners. Be confident in your layouts: try all flush left or flush right. Your design should feel brave and bold!

5. Appropriate Content

What should you include in a flyer?

While brochures or foldable flyers come in a variety of formats, a basic rule of thumb is this: the “where” determines the “what.” The delivery of your publication has everything to do with its content. If your piece arrives in the mail to someone on your mailing list, you can include much more on it. If it is to been seen on a display board as people stroll by, your main feature must be readable at a glance.

Flyers are fun to create because they allow you to abandon restraint.

Your flyer will often go head-to-head with dozens of competing pages, so grab their attention and really go wild. Anything out of the ordinary will make people stop and look, and that is 90 percent of your goal.

4 Print Marketing Trends to Inspire You in the Year to Come

Print marketing is compelling, memorable, and engaging.

As people touch, hold, and even smell paper, they respond in a profoundly personal way.

While digital communication is booming, this has only enhanced the unique voice that print brings for any business. Millennials and Gen Z are very difficult crowds to reach digitally, with 63 percent using AdBlocker and 82 percent ignoring online banner ads. This trend toward tactile is stirring potential for many exciting creative opportunities.

Today, we’ll highlight four print marketing trends from 2018 to inspire you in the year to come.

Simplicity

The world is filled with chaos, and fundamentally, viewers long for a return to simplicity.

Minimalist designs offer the respite people crave. Minimalist designs include images with a clear, elegant purpose, maximizing white space and using layouts that are clean and authentic. Uncluttered visuals bring an honest, compelling point into focus in a quick and arresting way.

For years, TBWA Paris has been on a mission to advertise McDonald’s in the most minimalist ways possible. This started in 2013 with extreme close-up photos of food and followed with computer-icon-style pictograms featuring McDonald’s menu items reduced down to very spare illustrations. Many of these ads used no branding whatsoever: the point was that the food was so recognizable it didn’t need a label.

By 2017, McDonald’s had the food disappearing altogether, featuring top sellers like fries, McNuggets, or Big Mac cartons that were completely empty (apart from a few crumbs), because the food had already been devoured by famished customers.

Effective? Absolutely. These simple ads bypass the brain and go straight to the stomach.

Personalized Print Pieces

Print is already a highly personal medium, but advances in technology allow businesses to enjoy increased access to personalized posters, flyers, direct mail, and more.

If you want to impress, try gathering online data about customer preferences and include that in print.

Branding even the simplest products has also allowed companies to gain a more personal touch. For example, a local auto garage printed customized labels for its water bottles and offered complimentary water to customers while they waited.

Color

If you’ve ever painted a room, you know the significance even a slightly darker hue can bring. Color experts Pantone released color trends for 2018 with this advice:

  • If you want to look resourceful, employ blue and orange hues
  • If you want a playful tone, choose yellow
  • If you’re looking for something discreet, try pink
  • If you want more sophistication, choose gold

What if you want to reach a diverse crowd?

According to Pantone, rosy tones bring a palette that “reaches out and embraces many different cultures.” Pantone said in 2018, print marketing was trending away from pastels and toward bright, bold colors:

“Intense colors seem to be a natural application of our intense lifestyles and thought processes these days.”

Storytelling

Storytelling is not just for YouTube.

Print that tells a story can alleviate suspicion and make instant connections, especially with younger audiences.

A Spanish lollipop grabbed this edge with its “ant aversion” ad for Chupa Chups lollipops. While normally a company might bore viewers with guilt trips for sugar-free products, Chupa Chups chose a “visual story” to make their point.

In the print ad, a sticky sucker had been discarded on a rock slab near the lawn. Meanwhile, a triple-wide line of ants detoured around the candy, heading toward the grass. The headline, “It’s Sugar Free,” brought a resounding finale to this playful story.

Chupa Chups reminds us that print is at its best when it is used as an art. Use vibrant colors, minimalist designs, and personalized print pieces to grab their attention and tell your story this year.

Streamline Your Next Project with Print-Ready Proofs

Ever rushed out the door only to trip on your shoes in the entryway? Or made a hasty stop at the intersection and found yourself in a costly fender bender?

Accidents happen when we hurry, and that’s true in both life and work. In project management, sometimes we fail to allow adequate time for extra details or unexpected delays. As you draw closer to a deadline, errors are made and important details are overlooked.

Print-Ready Success

Do you want to be proud of your next print project with a smooth transition from design to print?

Here is a handy preflight checklist to help you eliminate panic or costly mistakes when a deadline is near.

  • Thoroughly proof your document for typographical, punctuation, margin, or grammatical errors. Have one or two other people proof as well. Mistakes are easy to miss but embarrassing to everyone. To slow yourself down, trying reading your document out loud or read your text backward.
  • Embed your fonts and designs. There’s nothing worse than pouring over a precise design then finding a poor imitation after it comes back from print. To maintain the integrity of your design, it is important to link all aspects of your piece (images, artwork, and fonts) into a high-resolution PDF. This includes crop marks for bleeds displaying the exact size of your trimmed and finished piece.
  • Use correct proportions, dimensions, and resolution. Images should be proofed by others to make sure they fit on the page, are correctly centered, and are cropped or outlined as desired. The resolution of image files needs to be higher for print: a JPEG file needs a minimum resolution of 300 DPI (Dots per inch). If your file does not meet that standard the quality will not be as sharp or distinct.
  • Use consistent page layouts. Clean layouts communicate professionalism and make documents easier to read. Proof your design (especially multi-page documents) to be sure margins are consistent on every page, including booklet covers or pages that feature charts or infographics.
  • Convert image formats to CMYK. JPEG is the default image format for photographs from many cameras, cell phones, and mobile devices. Screen images on TVs, computers, and cameras use red, green, and blue in varying percentages, but commercial printers typically separate artwork into four colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, black). Most design software will allow you to easily convert or save a file in CMYK, or there are several free online file conversion tools as well.
  • Print a proof and confer with our team. A surefire way to ensure a quality product is to generate a poof and discuss it with us before the final printing. It’s also important to discuss turnaround times so you can plan your milestones accordingly and allow for multiple print runs (if necessary).

We’re here to help! With local printing, you get the benefit of a work-in-progress partnership. While it’s helpful to have a preflight checklist, the trained eye of a professional is even better! Our goal is to increase your productivity, reduce your stress, and save you time and money as your prep and proof your print projects.

We’re only one phone call away, and your questions are always welcome!