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Marketing 101: Six Steps to Cut Through the Clutter

joyceThe average person is exposed to thousands of commercial messages each day.  Only a small percentage will be remembered. it’s the age-old challenge that marketers face, especially the little guy who lacks a big budget.

Small businesses often rely on direct mail and printed marketing materials to communicate with their customers and prospects.  like other media vehicles, direct mail needs to be well-executed to hit the right mark. There are a number of ways to strengthen your approach and enhance your message, regardless of the size of your business or budget.

  1. Determine your objective and audience. is it your objective to educate and inform? Build brand awareness? Or sell a product or service? Are you sending the right message to the right audience? The first few seconds are critical. If your message fails to be relevant to the recipient, the piece will miss the mark – no matter how great it looks.
  2. Simplify your message. in general, it’s best to keep your message short and to the point, whether you are creating a brochure, newsletter, advertisement or other print communications. make your message easier to read by using a variety of graphic design techniques to break up type and add interest. You can simplify information by replacing text with tables, charts and other graphics that illustrate key points.
  3. Narrow your emphasis. Avoid trying to do too much in a single piece. Narrow your focus to one or two key features and benefits. In general, you have less than five seconds to catch a reader’s interest. Use headlines, subheads and quotations to add emphasis and draw the reader in to your most important information.
  4. Add contrast to add interest. Add visual contrast to your documents by using white space, typography and size of graphic elements. For example, two photos of dramatically different sizes on a page are more appealing than two photos of equal size. The size difference also communicates which elements are more important.
  5. Project the right image. Use consistent type, color and design to create an easily identifiable “look” that distinguishes you from your competition. For example, you may want your audience to perceive your company as professional, friendly, corporate, dynamic or cost-conscious. The design you create reinforces this image by creating the appropriate emotional response. With literally thousands of colors and typefaces available, be selective.
  6. Edit wisely. Graphic design succeeds by reducing the number of words instead of reducing type size or illustrations to “fit everything in.” Review the piece with co-workers or family members to make sure your message is easily understood. it’s also important to establish a procedure for proofreading. Nothing can ruin an image quicker than typos, poor grammar or bad punctuation.

NAWBO member Joyce DeLong is the owner of InstyPrints, and she consults with businesses and organizations about their strategic marketing initiatives. Joyce has been helping  businesses develop their print communications and other promotional tools for more than 28 years. Contact her at 716-634-5699 or

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