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AMiable Solution #421: Renovating Your Direct Mail for Focus

When you’re in the business of selling, sometimes less information really is more.

If you’re a fan of home renovations shows, then you know that the right design can make or break a room. An awkwardly placed sofa can close off a space. A hodge-podge of themes and styles can confuse and create chaos. An overcrowded space can leave visitors feeling overwhelmed or alienated.

Luckily, smart interior designers have figured out a way to successfully design rooms.

The key? A focal point.

Focal points set the tone for the rest of the room. They dictate everything else: layout, furniture, colors, style, art, accents…you name it. It may be a distinguishing architectural feature, the largest piece of furniture present, or simply a cherished item, but it always grabs attention and invites people in.

Printed marketing has the same goal—to draw people in, make them feel comfortable, and encourage them to stay.

And, unlike actual home design, renovating your marketing piece around a focal point requires no strenuous physical actions, only adherence to six simple principles:

· Identify the “wow” factor in your piece. What’s the big deal about your offer? Is it the look of the product itself? The result of a service? A particularly impressive benefit? Pick your key selling point and design the rest of your brochure, web page, letter, etc., around that.

· Limit your message. Every marketing piece has a goal: to get readers to take a particular action. To that end, keep your text relevant and succinct. Don’t dilute your message or overwhelm your customers with extraneous information. Bullet key points, highlight your main benefit(s) in headlines, and feature images that directly support your primary message.

· Streamline your style. And by that, we mean limit your fonts to no more than three (preferably two). Reserve your fancy or bold fonts for headlines and a more traditional, easily-readable font for body copy.

· Keep it clean. Negative—or white—space is an interior designer’s and a marketing designer’s friend. Cutting down on the clutter invites readers in and encourages them to look around without getting overwhelmed. It also forces you/helps you keep your written message focused.

· Consider your arrangement. Keep your layout practical and logical. This isn’t the place to get fancy or inventive. Design with traditional reading patterns in mind, and use subheads and pull quotes to highlight key points and to lead readers through your text.

· Use color wisely. In home decorating, accent walls—one wall painted a different color than the others in a room—are used to create a focal point, highlighting key artwork, architecture, or furniture. But the walls painted are usually small. The reason? Too much color “de-specializes” its use. The intended highlight no longer stands out, but gets lost in all the noise. Accent color in marketing material should also be used sparingly and wisely, calling attention only to key points, not watering down the message.

Whether your current marketing piece is brand-new or an old standby in need of a flip, make sure it has a clear focal point and an inviting path to get there.

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