With literally thousands of typefaces available, it is no small matter to determine which ones to use for a specific document. In this issue we’ll present some guidelines to assist you in narrowing the choices, as well as information about increasing the effectiveness of the type you select.
Defining the Task
Regardless of the document you are preparing – brochure, newsletter, flyer, training manual, or direct mail marketing piece – your first task is to be sure the typeface you select promotes readability and comprehension for your audience. In turn, this requires careful attention to a typeface’s legibility.
Readability refers to how the letters interact when combined into words, sentences, and paragraphs. Legibility refers to the clarity of the type – how easily one letter can be distinguished from another.
Next, think about what you must accomplish with the document. The goal of a brochure is much different compared to the goal of an annual report or newsletter. For instance, a brochure must engage the reader’s interest quickly and tell a convincing story, while an annual report consisting of large blocks of text with charts and financial tables must explain without fatiguing the reader. For a newsletter, eye-catching headlines and an informal look may be the goal.
Then consider the demographics of the intended audience. What is the age range, educational level, attention span, and vocabulary of those you are addressing? Different typefaces appeal to different audiences: seniors look for clarity and legibility; teens are drawn to edgy, unusual type even at the expense of readability; children and beginning readers prefer larger, easy-to-read fonts.
Finally, think about how much reading you are requiring of your audience and what message you want them to take away. The more text your document contains, the more readable the font must be.
The resources your business or organization devotes to sales and marketing is its marketing budget. We purposely use the term resources, because a marketing budget may be time and materials as well as cash. It may be a specific amount based on a written plan, or it may be an informal recognition that some time and money is required to support a sales effort.
So how can you manage your marketing budget to maximize its effectiveness? In this issue we will offer some strategies, ideas, and activities to get the most out of your marketing budget.
A newsletter is a popular and effective way to keep in touch with customers, members, and employees. It helps create top of mind awareness – having your company come to mind whenever a customer needs your product or service. It provides a way to talk about the benefits of new services, products, or equipment. It allows you to showcase your expertise and become a source of useful information or valuable advice. And it definitely can help you find new customers or members.
To be truly effective, a newsletter must be:
- published regularly, whether monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly;
- well designed, eye catching, content-rich; and
- written to keep the audience’s interest.
Each of these elements – regular publication, good design, and good writing – contributes equally to the effectiveness of a newsletter.
Our world is visual. From the images you see on screens to the things you read every day, photographs play an important role in conveying emotion, illustrating a point, or explaining a concept. Photographs improve our comprehension and add to our enjoyment. Because of this, they are an integral part of printed material and web sites.
As camera technology has advanced, the quality of the photography we see every day has reached new levels. Couple that with the ease of using a digital camera, and we now see businesses and organizations becoming comfortable with handling their photographic image needs without the services of a professional photographer.
Our job is to reproduce those photographs in printed brochures, sell sheets, marketing material, newsletters, direct mail pieces, signs and banners, and even business cards. Since we want the photographs to reproduce in the best possible quality, we’re offering some technical tips on the characteristics of digital photo files to use for printing and web applications. These aren’t tips on how to take photographs, but rather what to do once the image is captured and you’re ready to submit the photo file to us.
One of the more difficult tasks we face when reproducing your printed material is to be certain the color is correct. When we are printing your business stationery, it is critical that the color remains consistent for the first and for each subsequent printing. When printing your company brochure or newsletter, the color on the finished piece must conform to your expectations. And, if we are printing in full color – especially photographs of food or people’s skin tones – a good color match may make the document really stand out.
So why is color matching such a problem for us? The answer lies in a combination of how color is created and how the human eye perceives color.
As we’ve mentioned before, the success of any direct mail marketing campaign depends primarily on the mail list. Studies have shown that at least 60% of the response rate can be attributed to the mail list, while only about 20% each is attributable to the offer and the appearance of the mail piece. Given the importance of a mailing list, we recommend that all our customers understand the basics in order to make the best use of any list – internally-generated or purchased.
Thoughtful use of the earth’s resources and protection of the environment may seem like an odd topic for a newsletter written by a printer. After all, printing requires paper, and the paper industry has been criticized for destruction of forests, water pollution, and other anti-environment actions. Printed advertising mail is portrayed as a nuisance to those who receive it and cited for adding to landfills. Even e-mail messages are critical of print – you may have seen this tag line as part of an e-mail signature: Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.
Is printing really the environmental evil its critics assert? Should businesses and individuals adopt a policy of eliminating hard copies of documents and using only e-mail and digital media for sales and marketing outreach? Or are there other considerations that will allow businesses and organizations to continue to use printing and still be good environmental stewards?
Graphic images – such as photographs, illustrations, drawings, logos, and clip art – are a great addition to any printed piece. When combined with text, images measurably increase reader comprehension, retention, and interest when compared to text only.
In printing and publishing, graphic images are two-dimensional (2D), while on the web images can be two- or three-dimensional (3D) or multimedia.
There are two ways to form graphic images: pixel by pixel in a grid (called a bitmap or raster image) or mathematically from geometric objects such as points, lines, curves, and polygons (called vector images). Digital photographs and all images that have been scanned are bitmap images; vector images originate primarily from illustrations or drawing software programs or from plotters used in technical drawing.
When is it time to consider a redesign of your company’s advertising material? Some may answer, “when its effectiveness drops,” or “when the competition does,” or “when we hire a new marketing director.” We agree that these are good reasons, but we also would add that periodic redesign should be part of your regular advertising cycle. A good redesign will refresh your ads and renew them for your loyal customers and your prospects alike.
Signs That a Redesign May be Needed
Your company’s advertising material may need a redesign if any of these conditions exist:
- It has been more than five years since you first developed the advertising material.
- Your company today is much different than it was when the advertising material was developed.
- The target audience for your product or service has changed since the advertising material was developed.
Your advertising material may also show signs of aging in the selection of typeface, the layout, or the color palette.
An interesting and perhaps unanticipated result of the growth in social media for marketing is an increased need for good writing skills. Blogs, drip marketing, opt-in electronic newsletters, and other “new media” require both useful content and good writing to attract and keep readers.
The elements of good writing are simple: grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. By mastering the rules and conventions, you will make your writing easier to understand and more enjoyable to your readers.