You’ve gathered the data. You’ve written the copy. You’ve finally accumulated the right photos to show what your business or organization is all about. Now comes the tough part: putting it all together. A direct mail newsletter is one of the best ways to keep your customers and leads informed of all the great things your organization is doing—but a newsletter is only effective if it’s designed well. Make your newsletter stand out and get a higher return on your direct mail campaign by following the simple guidelines below.
Determine the Format
The first step to any direct mail newsletter design is to determine what kind of newsletter you’d like to mail out. From an 8.5x11 sheet in an envelope, to a tri-folded 11x17 sheet, to a multi-page stapled magazine, the possibilities are endless! Which format you choose to use to highlight your organization depends on what the goal of your campaign is and what the budget for the project is. If you’re going for a more formal and text-heavy approach, consider using a letter and an envelope. If you have a more visual newsletter in mind, perhaps a folded brochure-type mailer is what you’re looking for. Regardless of what kind of campaign you have in mind, determining what type of mailer your target market receives is a very important step.
Establish a Color Scheme
The best newsletters use colors to draw attention and get their message across. Your organization’s logo is probably the first place you should look for color inspiration. Keeping the color scheme of your newsletter consistent with your logo supports your company’s branding efforts and makes your message more memorable.
Another consideration is what feelings different colors evoke. Red, for example, creates a sense of urgency, excitement, and passion. Blue is generally thought of as a masculine color, and evokes tranquility, security, and trust. Green is associated with the environment, health, and clean living. Consider doing some research on different colors before selecting which ones to feature on your newsletter.
Use Headlines and Subheadings
It may seem obvious but using headlines and subheadings in your newsletter can be an attractive and helpful way to break up your text. Three separate paragraphs, each with a headline, seem much easier to read than a three-paragraph block of text. Using subheadings also gives a reader a quick guide for finding the information that he or she is interested in. If you’ve got an exciting announcement about your business, don’t bury it in the fourth paragraph of a block of text, highlight it! Using headlines and subheadings in your newsletter gives you the power to direct the focus and attention of your readers to a specific area in your newsletter.
Use Images Intentionally
A well-placed image can change the entire feel of a newsletter. Much like colors evoke certain responses, so too can images. Today’s world is a very visual one and depending on what kind of newsletter you plan on mailing out, images are likely to give it a huge boost.
Be sure to use images that complement your brand, that make sense given what your newsletter is communicating. A family advocacy non-profit, for example, might use photos of a family walking along a sidewalk. A company that sells outdoor products would want to include photos of their water bottles and tents being used outdoors. Photos give you an opportunity to highlight different aspects of your organization in a way that words just can’t.
Be Consistent and Avoid “Busyness”
Not only should your copy and the message of your newsletter be consistent with your organization’s branding efforts, you should have consistent design elements throughout the newsletter as well. Generally, using more than a handful of fonts in your newsletter isn’t a good idea. Neither is overusing borders, images, clip art, or other design elements. It’s easy to get caught up in the design process and try to include as much as you can into the few pages you have to work with, but often in design, the popular mantra is true: less is more. Use the limited space you have to bring readers’ attention to what’s most important. You might also want to add some white space to balance your text areas and use photos sparingly to avoid clutter.
Include a “What’s Next?”
Yes, you want to inform your readers about your organization, but what do you want them to do once they’ve finished reading? Should they sign up for your service? Should they buy your new product? Should they visit your website to donate? Should they call today to learn more? A newsletter isn’t just a one-time proclamation of what’s going on in your organization, it’s the start (or continuation) of a conversation with the people who are interested in your work. A good newsletter will be clear about how the reader can continue that conversation and develop a stronger relationship with your organization.
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