Creative Instinct Blog – Branding & Marketing Tips for Busy Professionals

Informative articles and tips on marketing for small businesses.

Direct Mail – 9 Tips On How to Do It Right

Article by Apryl Duncan (

postcardHow much junk mail do you receive each day? Do you read it? Toss it?
Now put yourself in the shoes of your direct mail recipients. Avoid direct mail deadly mistakes or your materials will end up in the trash too.

1.  Know Your Audience

Before you even begin to put your direct mail campaign together, you’ve got to know who your target market is. Are they women? Parents? Young? Old? Understand what motivates them. What are their likes and dislikes? Write as if you’re talking to them. And even use terms these types of people would use.

2.  Build A Good Mail List

All the fancy graphics and the most beautifully created sentences in the world won’t do you a bit of good if you don’t carefully select the people on your mailing list. If you’re selling adult diapers, you want to target senior citizens…not 23-year-olds.

Tighten your mailing list as much as possible to be sure it’s tailored to your needs. It’s tough to make people believe they need your product and even harder to convince them they need it now. But if you’ve researched your list, you have a higher chance of hitting potential customers instead of the trash can.

3.  Define Your Objectives

You’ve made your list and checked it twice, so-to-speak. It’s the perfect list. Now it’s time to write. Define your objectives before you start writing. Stay focused and hit the points of your objective. If you get off track, your reader is going to stop reading.

4.  The Headline

Spend a lot of time on your headline. Just remember how you feel when reading mail that comes to you. After you read that headline, do you keep reading? The headline can make or break your direct mail campaign.

5.  Reel Them In

Does price really matter? Not unless you know what you’re getting for that price. Hook your reader with all of the product or service benefits. By the time they get to the end, they should be saying, “I can’t live without that!”

6.  Disclose The Price

And then you let them in on the price. Even if the price is extremely low, you have to tell potential customers about the product first.

Disclosing this price shouldn’t put people into shock. Is your product priced according to the market? If you’re selling a new teddy bear, it should be priced within reason. Not many people will pay $90 for a tiny teddy bear, right? Truth is, a lot of direct mail goes unanswered because the products are unreasonably priced.

Success! Your potential customer read all the way through your mailing. Now what?

7.  A Call To Action

Did you tell the reader what you want them to do? You can’t sell if you don’t tell. Your readers need a call to action. Tell them to send in the card, call you, etc. Then tell them again.

Once your direct mail is ready to go, test several smaller mailings before sending out a huge chunk. Test each of these mailings by changing a few items when you send them out. Have two or more sales letters you test against each other. By testing, you will find out which of those mailings are bringing in more responses and – hopefully – more orders. Stick with the clear winners. Remember the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

8.  Hire A Designer

Finally, unless you are a graphic designer… do NOT design the mail piece yourself. Leave it to a professional. A graphic designer can help ensure that your direct mail piece is eye-catching, concise, and “speaks” to your target audience — all essential attributes to an effective piece that stands out from the clutter.

Direct mail is a waste of money for a lot of people. But it doesn’t have to be for you. Understanding direct mail deadly mistakes — and avoiding them — will lead you to sales success!

9.  Call us now for help with your direct mail piece.

Call Creative Instinct now at 501-244-0573 to discuss design of your next direct mail piece, email marketing ad or newsletter. Or, send an email to Gwen Canfield: To see samples of our work, visit  Postcard at top of article designed by Creative Instinct for Fifty Forward senior center in Madison, TN.


Brochure Marketing: 12 Tips on How to Do it Effectively

Article by Julie Hyde,

brochure-sampleMarketing isn’t about using one medium. It’s about getting and keeping customers. Yes, Internet marketing can help you can do that but only if you use it in conjunction with other tactical tools. In addition there are thousands of potential customers that are extremely cautious about placing important business or buying an expensive item from an unknown online vendor. That’s one of the reasons why, in order to succeed, EVERY online company must have brochures and other forms of printed sales literature to hand out to customers and prospects. An online company needs printed sales literature for two reasons:

  1. Credibility: People expect a “real” company to have printed sales literature. It’s easy to afford spending $60 on business cards, letterhead etc. and call yourself a corporation. But if you want to look like you mean business, you need a brochure of some sort.
  2. Time-saving. People want printed material to take home and read at their leisure. Yes, you can direct them to your Web site, but a brochure adds a personal touch, tells your prospect what the product or service can do for them and why they should buy from you. Brochures also support other advertising, direct mail, online promotions, and can be used as a sales tool by distributors. In short, a good brochure sells.

To achieve just the right verbiage and look for your brochure – one that “speaks” to your audience in the most effective manner – we suggest that you hire an expert. A professional copy writer and graphic designer will partner with you to ensure that your brochure contains the following key components for success:

    • Know What Your Reader Wants
      You must write your brochure or leaflet from the reader’s point of view. That means the information must unfold in the right order. Begin by analyzing what your reader wants to know. An easy way to do this is by assessing the order in which your reader’s questions will flow. For example, imagine you own a medical spa facility offering Botox and other anti-aging treatments. You are interested in encouraging your readers to make an appointment for a consultation and/or schedule a treatment. Now, given the nature of your business, your reader will have a lot of questions they’ll want answered before they’ll consider making an appointment. Your brochure should answer their questions in a logical sequence following the reader’s train of thought. A good way to organize your points is to write down the questions you think a potential customer might have, and the answers your brochure might supply.
    • Motivate your reader to look inside
      The first page your reader will see is the front cover. Get it wrong and you’ve as good as lost the sale. Don’t make the common mistake of couching your services in technical jargon. Think benefits or thought-provoking statements that motivate the reader to pick up the brochure and open it. Add a flash that tells the reader there’s something inside that will interest them – an exclusive invitation, a free report, special discount or advance notice of sales. Don’t be tempted to put only your company logo or product name on the front. It won’t work.
    • Contents Page – What’s in it
      In brochures of eight pages or more, a list of contents is useful. Make your list in bold and separate it from the rest of your text. Use the contents to sell the brochure. Don’t use mind-numbing words like “Introduction” or “Model No A848DHGT”. Pick out your most important sales point and use that in your heading.
    • Describe Your Product

To help you describe your product draw up a list of product features (facts about your product) and add the words “which means that…” after each point. For example, “The cake is made from an original recipe, which means that…it tastes better.” Or, “The car has a 300 horse-power engine, which means that…it goes faster.” Remember that the purchaser of your product is not always the user so there may be more than one benefit for each feature.

  • Make it a Keeper
    Putting helpful information in your brochure will encourage the reader to keep it, refer to it often or pass it on to other people. If you’re selling paint you can provide hints on color schemes, painting how-to information, tips from the pros etc. If you’re selling skin care products you can give your readers tips on how to combat pimples, dry skin, fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Alter the Shape
    Who says a brochure has to be A4? Selling sandwiches? You can design a brochure in the shape of a sandwich. Season tickets to soccer matches? Design it in the shape of a soccer ball. Using your imagination when designing your brochure can produce better than average results. According to Direct Magazine, a recent mailing by CSi, a company that conducts customer satisfaction surveys for automobile insurance firms and repair shops, got a 15% response rate with a brochure delivered in a 32-ounce squeeze sport water bottle. The headline read, “Thirsty for more repair orders?” Try tall and slim, square, oblong. Whatever you like. The only limitation is your imagination, and, of course, your budget.
  • Make it Personal
    An experienced speaker talking to a large audience will pick out a face in the crowd, and talk to that face. This connection with one person allows the speaker to make his talk more personal than if he were merely addressing a mass of faces. In a similar fashion, the words in your brochure should use this technique and zero in on one imaginary single person. Why? Because writing in a direct “I’m-talking-only-to-you” style will increase response.
  • Add Atmosphere
    Don’t let your brochure sound aloof. Let your reader share your feelings. There’s no reason why a brochure about a wood burning stove has to go into the ins and outs of how the stove works. Tell your reader about rain swept winter evenings and snow-bound afternoons. Let your words show them how warm and snug and they’ll be when they purchase one of your stoves.
  • Get Selling…Fast
    Remember, not everyone wants to be educated on every aspect of your product or service. Nor does everyone want to know the manufacturing details of your widget. Don’t waste their time telling them about things that don’t convey a benefit.
  • Talk about your reader’s needs
    Don’t get carried away with your own interests. Talk about your reader, not yourself. Here are the first words in a brochure from a company selling insurance: “Insurance is a complicated business. Our company was formed in 1975 to help our clients deal with the process of finding the right insurance to suit their needs. In the last 20 years we have been selling insurance to a wide range of customers from many different walks of life. Our company’s reputation is unsurpassed in the industry…” Yawn…This is the bar room bore in print. Instead of telling you how the company can help solve your problems, it’s more interested in telling you about itself.
  • Give Directions
    Every brochure should be organized so the reader can flip through the pages and easily find what they want. Provide clear signposts or headlines throughout the brochure and make sure each one says: “Hey, pay attention to me!”
  • Ask for Action
    Regardless of how you organize your brochure, there’s only one way to end it. Ask for action. If you want your reader to respond include an 800 number, reply card, or some form of response mechanism. In fact, to increase your brochure’s selling power you should include your offer and a response mechanism on every page.

Need some help with your company brochure or other marketing collateral? Call Creative Instinct at 501-244-0573 to arrange for a free consultation.  Not only can we create an appealing page-turning design for your brochure, we can bring in an experienced and talented copywriter to craft the perfect verbiage. Email Gwen Canfield: To see brochure designs we’ve created for our clients, visit (Brochure pictured at top of article was designed by Creative Instinct for Jackson & Dodd Valet Trash Removal Service.)