Fliers & Mailers
Preflight checklist for your flier
Follow these steps and improve the vitality of your fliers and mailers.
Is it possible to design a low-budget flier that really sells a product? Yes, if you can keep all eyes on the product.
Imagine walking into a furniture showroom and spotting something you really love. Does your mind immediately turn to thoughts of rentals? What else the company sells? The store’s phone number?
Of course not. You want to know more about the prize you just discovered. What is it made of? Will it be practical for me? How can I get it?
That’s what your flier must do—show something desirable, tell people why they want it and how they can get it.
The original flier does not do its job well. What’s for sale here? A gazebo? Furniture? The item for sale is actually lost in the clutter. The retailer scrupulously avoided hype and carefully provided his store’s location, phone number and even a map, but forgot that the product must come first!
Let’s see how a simple flier can be turned into a powerful sales team member.
1 Start by setting the stage
If you think of your sheet of paper as a fliersdesigntheater stage analogytheater stage, you’ll be in the right frame of mind. Why? Because a good advertisement is theater: You want to draw all eyes to your product.
Because our product was photographed on a backgroundsfliersblack backgroundblack background, the stage has been darkened to match. This isn’t necessary, but it does create a sense of drama, and black is a zero-cost way to get it.
A hairline border frames the stage—think of it as the curtain—and directs the reader’s eye inward. Such a border should be subtle; a fat or bright border will draw attention to itself, away from the stage.
2 Place your product front and center
Place your product on a page in the same way that you’d show it off to your friends at a backyard barbeque: Set it smack on the patio where it can be seen and touched.
Picture your product clearly! To do this properly, you need a photograph. The factory from which your product emerged is often able to furnish a good picture (that’s where this one came from). Call or e-mail the company. Failing that, you might hire a photographer who specializes in product photography. This can be an expensive proposition, but remember: If a shopper cannot see your product clearly, he will not buy it.
It is tempting to play with a design in an effort to add one’s unique signature. Resist! In product advertising, the product is the show. Don’t tilt the picture or distort it in any way. Don’t add ruffles and flourishes. Don’t make it tiny, thinking a shopper would prefer to read about it. And don’t crop it like an art poster: A shopper will ignore it, or worse, believe you have something to hide.
3 Add a headline...
Elucidate! Once your product is on stage, add words to reveal detail and nuance and direct the reader to virtues or uses of the product that are not evident just by looking at it.
Shoppers enjoy seeing and experiencing new products. (We like to be thrilled, basically.) You’ll write your best headlines if you think of your readers as eager listeners.
Think: What is the first thing I would tell my best friends about this product? Begin with the feature you find most exciting. In this case, it’s that although the furniture looks like wicker, it is actually made of durable fiberglass. If your product is more ordinary—a screwdriver, perhaps, or a set of white bath towels—think: What do I like most about this product? Why would I buy it? Explain that.
Rule of thumb #1: A short headline is preferable to a long one. In oral conversation, we yak on and on with 20 words when one or two would do. As listeners, however, we are bored quickly. Shoppers want to like your product but they can’t tolerate much blather. English is a rich descriptive language; there’s usually a perfect word. Finding it will pay off. Rule of thumb #2: Avoid catchy slogans. Why? You won’t be able to think one up. If you do, it will be corny. Slogans do not sell products. Would you buy a car because it’s a part of “the new generation”? No. You buy a car because it looks good, is well built, is priced right or just plain suits your needs.
4 ...Then your text
As you write your text, bear in mind that a shopper will read it if—but only if—the product and its headline have interested him sufficiently. As you compose it, therefore, have confidence that this reader is interested. Keep your eye on the product. Enrich his knowledge. Add detail. Remind him of benefits. Suggest cool uses. Close with a call for action.
Rule of thumb #3: Be kind. It is the reader, not you, who is in the driver’s seat. No matter how big you are, nothing will happen unless the reader wants it to happen. Respect that. A proper advertisement is a dignified product presentation, not a stick-up. It is an American fantasy to think a shopper can be compelled to buy a product. As shoppers, we actually sell ourselves.
5 Add your logo
Present yourself last—and small. Two reasons: You are the last link in the sale (remember, we shop for products, not stores), and small says confident.
If you lack a logo, a good alternative is to set your name in a style matching (or similar to) the headline. This low-key treatment makes an implicit connection between the store and this product, and is most appropriate for those businesses with narrow product lines: jewelers, florists, specialty boutiques and so forth.
A logo sets a somewhat different tone: It serves as a label and implies that this product is one of a variety carried by the store. Note how the finished logosfliersflier is divided into four easily digested pieces—headline, photo, text and store name—all of which interact to make a coherent, overall statement.