The FEI Tribe Discovers the Secrets to Designing ‘Eye-Catching’ Marketing Materials (Part I)

Last week, Fire Enterprises, Inc. (FEI) communications director Cecil the Cyclops discussed how effective copywriting can create promotional pieces that drive sales growth. This week, Cecil begins a discussion on best design practices for printed marketing communications. Remember, fire = print.

The hour grew late at the Red Argus, as Marka and Cecil ordered another round of grog.

“I never figured you for a design whiz,” Marka said, resting her arms on the bar counter.

“You know, I’ve been told I have a real ‘eye’ for design,” Cecil replied wryly, pointing to the big veiny eye stuck in his forehead.

“Oh brother,” Marka groaned. “I’ll listen to your ideas, but please—no more ‘eye’ puns.”

“I’ll try my best, but no promises,” Cecil said, digging three tablets out of his other pocket. “Let’s start at the beginning.”

Cecil’s Brilliant Design Idea #1: Design for design’s sake is out. Your design and layout should derive from the size and shape of your promotion, not the other way around.

“That makes sense,” Marka said.

“A one-size-fits-all design model will end up fitting none,” Cecil explained. “For example, the design elements of a one-sixth-page trade ad will probably look lousy if converted into a one-page flyer. Similarly, the features of a self-mailer will largely determine what types of design should and should not be used.”

“What else?” Marka asked.

Cecil removed a second tablet that read:

Cecil’s Brilliant Design Idea #2: For small ads, rely on snappy copy and simple graphics.

“The success of smaller ads largely depends on how well your headline functions as a ‘grabber,’” Cecil said. “In ads that are a quarter page or smaller, headers should occupy the dominant (top) position, and function as the largest design element.”

“So what’s the second most prominent element?” Marka asked.

“Your call to action—phone number, O-site address, etc.—which should be positioned at the bottom of the ad,” Cecil answered.

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T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.
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