The design of your direct mail piece has two jobs to do. One, it has to get attention for your primary offer. Two, it has to help the reader absorb the information that’s presented. Every well-designed piece has the following 6 features in common:
1. One thing dominates the page. When you look at a well-designed page, there is usually one dominant feature to catch your eye. It could be the headline or the photo/graphic, but not both. Something has to dominate. Though it might be tempting to throw in a starburst that says “Free Trial,” be careful how you use it. When you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing.
2. Typeface variety is minimal. Your computer may come with hundreds of fonts, but that doesn’t mean you have to use every one of them. The best designers stick with one, maybe two fonts per piece – plus the logo.
3. White space. Don’t feel compelled to fill every inch of space with copy or pictures. A dense blob of type and pictures can look unattractive and turn readers away. An open airy design is inviting and friendly.
4. The text is easy to read. Equally important as the overall design of the page, is the design of specific text blocks. If the type is too small or condensed, if the columns are too wide, if the paragraphs are too long, it becomes too much work to read and people won’t. Break up the page by interspersing short paragraphs with long ones, indenting paragraphs, using bullet points or bold subheads.
5. Relevant illustrations. The purpose of the illustration is to help draw attention to or dramatize your message. That’s not to say that a plumber has to show faucets in his direct mail piece or that a dentist has to show teeth. That plumber could, for instance, show Niagara Falls.
6. Clear, visible logo and a call-to-action. You captured the readers’ attention and guided them through the information. You aroused their interest and desire. Now you have to let your readers know what you want them to do. Don’t confuse a clear, visible call-to-action with a big, oversized name, address and phone number.