Mousetrap Marketing Series #10-#14

April 2, 2007

The Mousetrap Series…by Matt Michel

The Mousetrap Series is about helping you sell more mousetraps, no matter what the mousetrap is that you sell. I don’t care how good your mousetrap is, few people will buy it if you do not market it well. 

The next few tips in the Mousetrap Series relate directly to graphic design. As a business owner you do not need to know everything there is to know about graphic design. You do not need to perform graphic design. However, you should be able to recognize the basics of good design when you see it. After all, it’s your money that’s getting spent.

The problem with small business graphic design, whether it appears in the yellow pages, newspaper ads, direct mail, brochures, flyers, door hangers, trucks, or business cards is that it is:

C ruddy
R otten
A wful and
P itiful

Since it helps to "see" examples, you might want to download a copy of the "Build a More Profitable Service Business" notes by clicking on the Link below…

10. Make Different Stuff Really Different
Contrast in a piece adds visual interest. It adds visual interest and makes you want to look at the piece. For contrast to be effective, it must be strong. If you’re going to make something different, make it really different. Do not go half way. A little contrast might as well be no contrast. If two elements are the same, make them really different. Make the contrast strong. Make different stuff really different.

Add contrast with large versus small type, font type (e.g., a roman font like Times Roman versus a sans serif like Arial), thin versus thick lines, cool colors (e.g., blue) versus warm colors (e.g., red), smooth textures versus rough textures, horizontal elements versus vertical elements, and so on.

An easy way to add contrast is with a reverse. Put a dark field behind text you want to emphasize and make that text white. In the downloadable notes, you will see a simple example of a reverse. Note how the reverse makes the card more appealing and more striking. The card without the reverse appears, well, bland. One simple change makes a big difference.

11. Repeat Some Aspect of the Stuff
Find parts of your design that you can repeat throughout the piece, whether it’s a font, line, graphical element, color, or something else. Whatever you repeat should be visually recognizable without thinking much about it. Repeatability gives your design consistency and unifies it. Without unification, the design may tax the eye and look jumbled, out of place. I’ve seen flyers designed by some small businesses that use as many as a dozen typefaces on the same piece. Whoever creates these seems to think that each headline had to have a different typeface and point size. The result is a piece that’s hard to read and amateurish.

In the downloadable notes, there is one side of a three panel technician handout. It shows how one element is repeated, giving the brochure a unified appearance.

12. Put Stuff Near Other Related Stuff
Lots of layouts look like someone tossed a bunch of spaghetti at the wall. It’s scrambled, with stuff appearing all over the place. It’s scattered and unorganized.

Add some order to a layout. Group stuff that’s related. It makes it easier for the reader. In the downloadable notes, you can see the back panel of a company brochure. One example lists a variety of products and services. The next groups them under classifications. It makes more sense to the reader. The reader doesn’t have to work as hard.

13. Align Stuff to Give It a Sense of Unity
Have you ever walked into a messy kitchen? Everything is out of place. In graphic design, the messy kitchen look is disordered and hard to follow. Everything is out of place. Create visual connections through invisible lines.

In the downloadable notes, the copy on the front page of a technician handout is center justified in one example and right justified in another. The center justified example doesn’t work. It bothers you to look at it. Merely by aligning the copy to the right, adding a sense of alignment, the piece is more organized, more appealing.

14. Figure Out a Focal Point and Direct People To It
The focal point is the key element of the image around which, everything else should revolve. It’s the element that you want people to see first. You should compose a design to direct the eye to the focal point and then have a path for the eye to follow from the focal point.

In the downloadable notes, the focal point on this service agreement sales tool is clearly the goofy guy. Yet, note how this graphic directs people up to the headline.

If you want to improve your graphic design skills, or simply want to be better able to recognize good designs, visit your local Barnes & Noble or Borders bookstore. They will have instructional graphics design books and also example books of award winning designs. A lot of graphics designers collect these books, looking for good designs that appeal to them and fit the needs of a particular project. Browse the books. Learn to recognize good and bad design. You pay a lot of money to get marketing pieces in front of the prospect. Go all the way and practice good graphic design so that the prospect will want to read it once they see it.

Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
Free subscriptions are available at:
-- click on the Comanche Marketing tab

Copyright © 2004 Matt Michel

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