The Tribe Discovers the Secrets to Designing ‘Eye-Catching’ Marketing Materials (part II)

Last week, Fire Enterprises, Inc. (FEI) communications director Cecil the cyclops and Marka the marketer began a discussion on best design practices for printed marketing communications. This week, Cecil concludes his lecture with the help of some visual aids. Remember, fire = print.

Cecil slurped the last dregs of his grog. “All this design talk is making me thirsty. This time, I’m going to let my tablets do the talking.” He pulled out a third tablet and dropped it onto the table with a thud.

Cecil’s Brilliant Design Idea #3: Follow the “Z” Path to Design Success

Z patternOn the tablet was this “Z” shape:

“Whether we’re reading a full page ad or a single page flier, our eyes naturally flow from the upper left corner, across to the right, down to the lower left and finally over to the lower right,” Cecil said.

Marka was impressed. This sure sounded right.

“This means that you can increase your ad’s effectiveness by placing your most important design elements along this ‘Z’ path,” Cecil continued. “Headers are important because they’re at the beginning of the Z. Calls to action are important because they’re at the bottom of the Z. Don’t assume your readers know what to do; tell and show them with copy positioned in the right places.”

“Beware of two main graphical ‘dead’ zones that fall outside the Z,” Cecil warned. “If you put important copy—like unique selling propositions, core competencies and contact information in either zone—you’ll run the risk that they won’t be seen. Instead, fill dead zones with background imagery, disclaimer copy and white space…Or else.”

“Or else what?” Marka challenged.

“Or else I might just have to eat you,” joked Cecil, flashing a shining row of sharp teeth.

Cecil’s Brilliant Design Idea #4: Follow the “U” Rule for 2-page spreads

T.J. Tedesco is a sales growth, business strategy, marketing and PR consultant operating at the intersection of clear vision, compelling content and effective outreach practices. For nearly two decades, T.J. has been an independent consultant and sales growth team leader. Previously, he sold commercial printing, graphic arts machinery and supplies, and finishing and bindery services. T.J. helps North American companies with content development, Web and print design leadership, nurture marketing programs, sales coaching, sales team alignment and business strategy. Since 1996, T.J. has worked with more than 100 clients on retainer, 80 percent in the graphic arts industry. T.J. is author of "Win Top-of-Mind Positioning," "Playbook for Selling Success in the Graphic Arts Industry," "Fire! How Marketing Got Hot," "Direct Mail Pal" and four more books published by PIA. He can be reached at (301) 404-2244 or
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