10 Tips for Creating an Effective Marketing Piece

I’m headed to Providence to speak at CESSE this week, and one of the sessions I’ll be participating in will be an idea swap where we’ll be sharing marketing materials. I’ll be facilitating the discussion, and the nice folks at CESSE asked me to prepare some general tips to help people as they reviewed each others’ materials.

So I figured: why not share them with you, too, blog reader?

  1. Short is better than long. Don’t stuff too much crap in there. This is not your only chance to talk to your audience ever in the history of human beings. They are not going to read pages and pages of text. Trust me on this one.
  2. Speaking of text, pictures are better than words. And make sure you keep your visual look consistent. It’s OK for an event to have its own logo, but it should work with your normal logo and fonts and colors. Your audience should know at a glance that this piece is from you.
  3. Use color! Innovations in print technology have really brought the cost down. There’s no excuse for visually dull pieces these days. And pay attention to what the colors you choose say about you.
  4. Use image heatmapping. We normally think of this related to websites, but you can test any image. (Crazy Egg is one of my favorite sites for this.)
  5. Speak in their voice, not yours. We’re all familiar with the “benefits, not features” thing (or at least we should be), but you also need to use their language. You talk with engineers differently than you do with nurses or accountants or beer wholesalers or construction contractors.
  6. YOU MUST HAVE A CLEAR CALL TO ACTION. This probably should have been the first tip, and yes, I am shouting. If you’re not clear about what you want people to do, you are not ready to invest in a marketing piece. End of story.
  7. Proofread. Triple check your details. Is the date right? Is the time right? Is the location right? Is the website URL right? Are the prices right? Also, make sure you actually included all the relevant details. I got a marketing email the other day for an event that didn’t tell me what day it was, what time it was, or where it was. When I clicked on the link, I at least got the date and time from the website, but still no location. How am I supposed to go to that event?
  8. Generally speaking, serif fonts are more readable in print, san serif fonts are more readable online. It’s OK to break this rule, but do it consciously, and in either case, make sure your font is not too small! Your 25 year old marketing assistant may be doing the layout, but you need to make your your 55 year old CEO member can actually read it.
  9. Run an integrated campaign. Print is great. Email is great. Social is great. The web is great. You know what’s really great? When you use them all together in a coordinated way to create a campaign where the pieces compliment and build on each other.
  10. Have a little fun. Of course, you have to know your audience, and a mostly student audience is very different from a mostly PhD in chemistry audience which is very different than a most surgeon audience, but be engaging and hip and energetic, not dull, dry, overly formal, and too serious. You’re trying to get people interested in and excited about your product or service, right?