Avert Your Eyes. 6 Awful Things about This Flyer

by Jeremy Hirsch

You ever get those Value-Pak mail­ers with a series of a cards from dif­fer­ent busi­nesses? I find myself com­pelled to open those mail­ings– expect­ing an offer too good to risk missing.

I typ­i­cally am dis­ap­pointed with what’s inside. But in a recent mail­ing I found myself so mes­mer­ized by the awful pre­sen­ta­tion of the pitch on one card that I saved it for its instruc­tional value.

Check this out! I see at 6 fixes to make to greatly improve the effec­tive­ness of the piece:

Note: yes… I grayed out the business name to avoid embarrassment.

1. So much to say, so lit­tle space

It’s a lot eas­ier to write lots of text as opposed to edit­ing the copy down to be more concise.

Copy writ­ing is straight­for­ward: copy con­veys to read­ers the campaign’s mes­sage plus it indi­cates the key points that the reader should focus on.  This card has a sea of too-much text which does not clue us in on what is really important.

Les­son: too much copy/no images. Cut at least 40% of text.

2. No images

Most peo­ple pre­fer to con­sume mes­sag­ing with images (not just text).  And the best cam­paigns expertly mix copy and images (think of the Apple cam­paigns with Mark Twain and Gandhi).

While there is lim­ited space on this side of the card to add an image, the designer could have laid out the 5 loca­tions in a more cohe­sive, appeal­ing table.

Les­son: Find a way to break up text with a com­pelling image.

3. Where are the headlines?

One of the ways copy­writ­ers indi­cate to read­ers what’s impor­tant is through head­lines.  They also lead a reader from the most impor­tant to least impor­tant points.

Les­son: call out ideas/key points with headlines

4. Make the call-to-action very clear

Every cam­paign should have a clear call-to-action. This ad does offer us one: “visit a show­room.” And the designer did use bold text to call atten­tion to it.

But this copy is sur­rounded by a sea of text which makes it too hard to find.

Les­son: The call-to-action needs to be clearly vis­i­ble to the reader.

5. Are list­ing 2 web­sites bet­ter than one?

Mar­keters need to lead their read­ers in a clear direc­tion. The card gives two web­sites on the same line. Which one should the reader visit? And why?

Les­son: Don’t con­fuse the reader. Give them one clear path to what you want them to do.

6. Why is the text cen­ter justified?

The designer set the copy up as cen­ter jus­ti­fied –all copy is cen­tered on an imag­i­nary ver­ti­cal line in the cen­ter of the card. The the effect is jagged copy on the left edge. Given that we read left-to-right, this approach makes it hard to read.

I like to set email cam­paigns as cen­ter jus­ti­fied when we have a focused set of copy and a com­pelling image. But not when the cam­paign is print-based and has so much copy.

Les­son: we read left-to-right. In gen­eral it is a good plan to start with for­mat­ting the text to the left– par­tic­u­larly with printed pieces.

Putting it all together: here are some basics to employ as you design your next piece:

  • Less is more (espe­cially with text)
  • Com­pel with images and clear paths to the obvi­ous offer
  • Lead your reader from top to bot­tom and with headlines

I hope this sup­ply busi­ness will employ these best prac­tices in their next flyer.