Think HBR

Cool tips for a promo piece too hot to handle

Marc Brabander
BINK Creative
In our design studio, BINK Creative, we deal with a large range of businesses – from sole traders to large corporations. During the past 14 years, we’ve seen and worked it all, but there is a common theme that runs through all our design work; it is a basic principle that should be applied to create promotional pieces that gets your message across effectively.
It is well understood that to build a fire you need three things: fuel, oxygen, and heat (or ignition source). Similar is true for the key elements required for a successful promotional piece – be it a flyer, poster, postcard, sales brochure, promotion, and the like. Keeping to the fire theme… the three critical ‘elements’ you need to set your promo material ablaze are:
Key Message, and Audience = FUEL
Distribution Type = OXYGEN
Call to Action = HEAT
Some of you might not be too familiar with some of the lingo, so let me explain these three ‘elements’ a little further.
FUEL – Key Message and Audience
Ask yourself two simple questions:
1. What is the main purpose of sending this promo piece – what’s the key message you wish to get across?
Take your time, and sit with that question. What is the ONE thing you wish to get across? The whole purpose might be a special offer (like 20% off ), or ‘get a free info pack’, or that you’ve won an award, or more generally informing people about your products/services. The important thing is that there’s one thing that becomes the key message. It’s easy for the offer. A little harder when you only want to talk about your difference that makes your products/services unique and run with that as your key message. And make it snazzy, because without enough fuel in your promo piece, it will just fizz out like a wet fire cracker. One of the main problems designers come across is that people want to say it ALL, and therefore confusing the message. Consider this… it’s all great fun having a bright and big party and everyone’s having a good time. But the best conversations are had when there’s just the two of you. Similarly, with promo pieces – keep it simple, keep it to one key message. You’ll get the cut-through you’re after.
2. Who are you talking to - to your current customers, or
potential customers?
You talk in a different tone when you talk to you best friends (your customers) or people who you’ve just met (potential customers). Knowing the ‘who’ will set the tone for both the wording and graphics.
OXYGEN – Distribution Type
Working out where you are going to distribute the promo piece should be reasonably straightforward. You might wish to do a Facebook promotion, or email to your customer database; or you might consider a mailbox drop, direct mail, or putting flyers at certain places such as the information centres and the like, or hand them out at networking events. Or it could be and advertisement in the newspaper or school newsletter.
Whatever distribution you end up choosing for your promo piece, knowing the where will provide you (or your designer) a critical bit of information that will help with the design of a promo piece that sets your message alight.
The good old ‘Call to Action’. It’s all well and good having a great key message (be it an enticing offer or otherwise), but without telling the audience you are reaching out to where/how to contact you is… well, without action.
A great call to action not only leads the customer, it also lets them know what the result will be when they follow the call to action. For example:
As a minimum you need your contact details (a simple Phone + Number). You’ll be doing a little better with a “Call now + Number” You’d be doing better still with “Call us today and we’ll help you save money on your xyz.” It seems simple, but there’s are some real techniques to writing a good call to action – something to discuss another time perhaps.
As with anything, there is no real right or wrong way of doing things, just better ways.
And that is in very broad terms one of the first steps to creating and designing a promotional piece for your business. Hopefully you’ll find it a good reference point for when you next start developing your promotional piece.
For further queries contact Marc on (02) 4990 3230 or email
Marc Brabander Marc Brabander
Marc Brabander is the owner and Creative Director of BINK Creative – providing quality design work since 2002 and winner of the prestigious Business of the Year Award and Business Services Award at the 2010 Hunter Region Business Excellence Awards.