Direct Mail Design: Layout

Designing for direct mail can be broken up into three segments: layout, color/images and copy. Since this can be a real challenge, we will take on each section in depth to give you a better understanding and some ideas as well as tips to get you started on the path to a great direct mail piece. To start, let’s talk about the layout.

Designing for direct mail can be broken up into three segments: layout, color/images and copy. Since these can all be real challenges, we will take on each section in depth in separate posts to give you a better understanding and some ideas, as well as tips to get you started on the path to a great direct mail piece.

Section One: Layout
So you need to design your next direct mail campaign and are having trouble with ideas. Sometimes the best ideas in direct mail design have already been used.

The first thing you can do is look at the mail that comes to your home or business (or check out some mailpieces at WhosMailingWhat.com). Are there examples that stand out to you? There is no shame in taking a direct mail piece that you received and making it your own. Of course, sometimes the opposite is true and you get inspired by a really horrible piece.

Here are eight questions to ask yourself as you are contemplating design layout:

  1. What pieces do you like best? What about co-workers and family?
    This base will provide you with enough information and perspectives to start.
  2. Does a certain design function better than another?
    Practicality and mail ability are both big factors here. Making sure ahead of time what will work for the post office and what won’t is a real time and money saver.
  3. How were images or color used to draw your attention?
    Note each one and how you feel or interpret what they are trying to convey. Does it compliment the message or detract from it and why?
  4. What language was used to get you curious?
    Analyzing the word structure and your reaction to it is a great way to identify what your word choices should be.
  5. Was the offer compelling?
    Sometimes the offer may be compelling, but if it is not what you are interested or already have it, you will not buy it. Targeting your messaging to the correct audience is key.
  6. Were the important points and call to action organized and clear?
    This is very important, you can really learn what to do and not to do by looking at the offer you receive.
  7. What types of response mechanisms were available?
    The more the better. Include as many as you can and make sure some of them are mobile. People are using tablets and phones for most of their search and buying needs. Plus, you will benefit from instant gratification. They want it now!
  8. How can you make this piece better?
    Make a list of all the things you would change and why. Have others do the same and compare notes. You will gain insight into how your piece should look.

When designing your mail piece, are you taking all of these factors into consideration? Have you looked at your piece through the eyes of your recipient? Remember there needs to be a very strong “what’s in it for me?” for your prospects/customers.

Have someone outside of your organization look at your layout to make sure the message you are trying to convey is coming through. Direct mail is very visual and tactile; you need to capitalize on that.