Fault-Filled Postcard Teaches You Avoidable Design Mistakes

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September 25, 2012

With the ease of acquiring marketing materials today even small businesses can look like a Fortune 1000 company. But simple design mistakes can make your business look amateur and waste valuable marketing dollars. Avoid making little mistakes, hire a professional designer, and follow these ten postcard design and copy rules. They will help you keep your professional look for better impressions and stronger results.

  1. Use a high-resolution stunning image to grab attention on the front of the card.
  2. Don’t use more than two typefaces as it looks unprofessional.
  3. Embrace white space and don’t fill the entire card with content, images, and color.
  4. Use a compelling headline. What’s in it for the reader?
  5. Include a strong offer that creates the action you want (call, email, RSVP)
  6. Follow your company branding guidelines and corporate colors for continuity.
  7. Try to avoid using typefaces smaller than 10 pt.
  8. Go big.  Postage is your biggest cost in mailing a postcard.  We suggest using a card that is close to 6” x 11”.
  9. Use high-quality paper that will endure the mailing process and look good on arrival.
  10. When in doubt, hire it out. You get one chance to make an impression.

Those small businesses that throw these guidelines to the wind and have their cousin or secretary design their postcards create doubt in the minds of their prospects. A poorly designed, flimsy card leaves a prospects thinking…

  • Did they print this on their home computer?
  • Did they shoot the photos themselves?
  • Should I trust them with my business when they look like they operate on a shoe-string budget?


Bigger is Only Better When You Nail the Design

Skyline Roofing invested in mailing full color 8.5 x 11 postcards. And while it stood out in a pile of mail, it did not stand out for the right reasons in regards to design. Here are the reasons Skyline Roofing’s card looks more amateur than professional.

  1. While the picture on the front may be compelling, it looks out of focus and like a cell phone took it. The photo includes too many distractions such as full and empty glasses of beer, milk crates, charcoal bags, buckets, and what appears to be a drill or caulking gun by the window.
  2. The image isn’t sized properly to bleed off the page and wastes 1/6 of the oversized postcard layout.
  3. The front of the card headline is too small. It uses a serif font in white, which makes it difficult to read. Serif fonts (with the feet) can be hard to read when reversed white on black.
  4. The designer had typeface ADD. There are at least five fonts used on the back of the card.  This creates too much distraction for the reader.
  5. The offer is buried and open-ended. Putting a deadline on the chances to enter a drawing creates a sense of urgency. Moving the offer to the front of the card is also an improvement.
  6. The body copy is centered instead of flush left. Maybe this is a personal preference, but I just think it looks bad.
  7. The placement of the company logo and Better Business Bureau logo appears random. Images, logos, etc. should always have a purpose with where they are located.
  8. When I visited the landing page, I found the message “Whoops Page Not Found.” Skyline must have removed it shortly after the mailing rather than leaving it up for at least 12 months for those prospects who keep the card and call many months later.  I don’t know about you, but just because I got a postcard doesn’t mean I need a roof TODAY.
  9. Spot color usage of red, yellow, purple, green, and blue appear random. Determine a brand color guide and then stick with it.
  10. Personalizing the front of the card with the prospects name via variable data printingcould have pushed response into the double digits.  Adding other variable elements – like age of people in the photos or types of homes may have helped drive results.

My postcard assessment either makes your feel good about your direct-mail efforts or perhaps you learned something to correct in your next mailing. Let us know what your takeaway was in the comment box below.

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