If you’re like every other postal consumer in the country, you’ve noticed the effect direct mail can have on its target market. However, you’re not like every other postal consumer in the country, because you’re currently reading this blog about how to make direct mail campaigns more successful for the graphic designer. As a result, you’ve probably already noticed a few things that jumped out right away about each campaign you found in your mailbox, and what didn’t work for you.
Direct mail has received a boost in popularity recently as businesses realize just how high the return on investment is. Couple that with the fact that its response rate far exceeds that of any other method, and you have a potential recipe for success. How can your design business tap into the direct mail overhaul?
What Does Graphic Design Have to Do With It?
You probably already know the answer to this question; the demand for direct mail pieces means that graphic designers who can give a piece the right feel are in high demand. It may not be the kind of high-end commercial work that will win you awards and recognition, but it can make you successful. Anyone who can learn the industry and become successful as a graphic designer for direct mailings is going to do well for himself.
For example, a simple 12-page "magalog" can gross you as much as $5,000, while a 24-pager can go for $12,000. Even a two-color financial newsletter falls in the $1,000 - $3,000 range. If you can land a few jobs like those each year, you will do quite well for yourself.
Sales copy as you know it has not changed in principle with the resurgence in direct mail; as we all know, fads that come and go, but the basics stay the same. The key to direct mail copy is to arrange what the writer gives you in a way that will grab the attention of the consumer over the other five or six pieces of mail in their mailbox. The secret is to give them the emotional connection to the material so that you can hold that attention.
How Can You Find Success With a Direct Mail Package?
Even with direct mail, a graphic designer cannot just throw any old layout together and expect to have success in the industry. It’s helpful to review as much as possible about the science and art of graphic design. Here are four steps you can take to improve your results and make yourself more in-demand for direct mailers:
- Know your audience. Direct mail needs to be able to connect with consumers. Sometimes, you’ll be lucky enough to design for an audience you are a part of and can connect with naturally; those are usually the easy assignments. Most times, however, you will know less about who it is you are selling to; making research is a key factor.
- Set the right mood. After you have researched your audience and gotten to know them better, you need to decide what sort of style will appeal to them. Senior citizens, for example, may prefer larger fonts which are easier to read. A young, hip audience may want designs that seem edgy and break the rules.
- Choose the right colors and font. This goes right alongside advice about setting the right mood. The copywriter produces the sales copy, but the graphic designer chooses how it’s going to look in the mail piece and every designer knows that font can have a huge effect on the outcome.
- You need the right components and the right sizes to complete the package. This will be the first impression on the recipient and will affect how they approach the rest of the piece. Will it be subtle and disguised as a letter, or will it clearly be a piece that is selling something? Again, if you haven’t researched your audience, you’ll be taking a rather uneducated guess, here.
One great way to learn more about package size and components is to research the particulars of projects that have had success with your client’s base in the past. See if you can gain inspiration from their previous success for your own projects.
Just like a foreigner speaks a language with an accent, your graphic design can have a strange “accent” if you don’t learn who your audience is. Find out how your audience thinks, what kinds of things resonate with them. Your goal is to make them respond and take action in whichever way the business that ordered your services desires, and you can’t do that with a design that fails to consider its audience.
The first step, if you performed it well, should make this step a lot easier. Later, when you collaborate with the copywriter, you’ll want to be sure that he or she is on board with your plans. to make sure your design isn’t at odds with the sales copy. When both elements work together, the outcome can be outstanding.
Some fonts are simple and clean, others are ornate and harder to read, while yet others are strange and edgy; which aesthetic goes best with what the client is trying to say to its potential consumers? You also need to choose the colors with care, since nothing has the potential to contribute to or detract from your desired mood quite like the colors you pick for it. For example, a financial direct mailer often includes the color green, for obvious reasons, while many food-related mailers utilize warm colors for their appetite stimulating effects.
Just remember that designing a direct mail piece is about selling something. The basic principles of salesmanship haven’t changed because human psychology doesn’t change; meanwhile, the principles of graphic design haven’t changed just because you’re targeting a direct mail audience.
Broaden your focus on making great layouts, and then narrow the focus of your design choices and tweaks to keep sales in the forefront of your mind.
From a designer’s standpoint, not much has changed with this new influx of direct mail marketing. The key difference driving this kind of marketing today has been with new advances in technology made by companies like Boingo, and their automation capabilities that ensure your design project will reach the hands of the client’s intended audience.