The Order Card: It’s Your Cash Register

The order card is your close, your ring of the cash register. Your design should maximize revenue and/or response potential. Order cards need to be simple, clear and single-mindedly focused. And in print, especially, give people enough space to fill it out. We’ve all had that form that required us to write in a microscopic space.

My previous post discussed how many people often do not put enough time or creativity into their order cards and landing pages.  I hear too often “it’s just the order card.” It’s a shame. This is a critical component — think of it as your cash register, where the sale is closed. You can easily lose a sale if the order device is difficult to figure out, hard to complete, and unclear what to do next.

The order card is your close, your ring of the cash register. Your design should maximize revenue and/or response potential. Order cards need to be simple, clear and single-mindedly focused. And in print, especially, give people enough space to fill it out. We’ve all had that form that required us to write in a microscopic space.

13 Design Considerations to Optimize Your Order Cards
Some of this will sound familiar as they are similar to what I suggested you do on a landing page — but paper is not a screen and requires even more effort to get it right and make it easy.

1. Roadmap the page: The layout is even more critical in print. Create a clear path for your customers to follow. This could mean numbering your steps (probably the easiest way) to lead a person through the process. It should be obvious where to go and what you want them to do step by step.

2. Give them enough space to write: This is one of my pet peeves. One of the fastest ways to stop a sale: don’t give enough room to write. If you need to squeeze an order card, your first thought should be why. If it’s because of the format you are using, seriously consider changing it.

Are you asking for unneeded information? Remember, giving enough space will also help you to process the order as you’ll be able to more easily read what they write.

Planner Pad Order Card3. Clear headline/label: Have a headline that makes it clear it’s the order form. This could be as simple as calling it the “Order Form” or “Reservation Certificate.” It’s also a great area to test. Trying different headlines or labels could help lift your response rate.

4. Auto-complete/personalize forms: I’m always surprised that this is not a standard. If you have to give up personalization on a piece in your package, lose it on your letter. Use your order form as the addressing vehicle and personalize the order form. The less work recipients have to do, the sooner they’ll have their order in the mail.

5. Use check boxes: Make it easy to make selections. Check boxes or circles indicate prospects might need to make a choice and helps people through the form. I go out of my way to find a way to do this. On a complicated order form, this can be a great way to make it feel simple.

6. Use contrasting colors: Color can be a powerful tool to help roadmap your form and make it clear where they need to pay attention. It can also be used to help with choice selection, highlight upsells and emphasize bonus areas — all of which can dramatically improve responses and order size.

Author: Patrick Fultz

Patrick Fultz is the President/CCO of DM Creative Group, a creative marketing firm producing work across all media. He’s an art-side creative, marketing strategist, designer and lover of all things type. His credentials include a degree from Parsons School of Design with 15 years of teaching at his alma mater, over 40 industry creative awards, and he previously served as President of the John Caples International Awards. Always an innovator, Fultz was credited with creating the first 4-color variable data direct mail piece ever produced. He continues to look for innovative ways to tap the powerful synergy of direct mail, the web, digital and social media.

3 thoughts on “The Order Card: It’s Your Cash Register”

  1. Fine piece on the all-important order form. Two additional thoughts:

    1. Before committing your OF to print or sending it out digitally, give it to 3 or 5 consumers—or business colleagues—to fill in. Make sure these folks are strangers—not people in your organization. This is not about your offer. It’s about making sure the OF tracks. In the words of the late Ellsworth Howell (CEO of Grolier Enterprises): “Make it easy to order.”

    2. The great direct mail freelancer Chris Stagg once told me whenever he got a writing/designing assignment, he always created the order form first. This summarized and clarified the product/service/ask in his head—offer, price, USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and key benefits. From there he would find it much easier to take off on the letter, circular, lift pieces, premiums/freemiums and OSE. Also subject line, although Chris probably passed before e-marketing. Of course, once Chris got deep into the project the order form might be rewritten and redesigned. But this was how he started. Keep up the good work. Cheers. Denny Hatch. dennyhatch@yahoo.com

    1. Denny, once again you’ve added wonderful advice. Especially having strangers/prospects/customers fill in the form. I always do this… it’s the best way to find the flaws.

  2. You need to be capable of finding order of cash and tools that will be capable of serve your business for quite some time to come.

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