Design: Why Less is More.

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Simplify design for better marketing results.

I stood by my client as he proudly showed me the two-page spread he’d bought in the local yellow page directory, and cringed. He’d allowed the salesperson to turn the design and messaging over to their graphics department. My client had given them a laundry list of things to include, and they had dutifully followed his instructions. I was looking at the result: a very expensive, semi-permanent representation of his business that was so visually busy that it was impossible to find a core message.

It’s tempting. You buy space for an advertisement, you’re sending out a mailer; you want to get the most bang for your buck.

Your designer comes back with something that’s good, but you want more. It doesn’t tell the whole story of what you do, how well you do it, or why your customers should buy from you. You send the designer back to the drawing board to add more content. Maybe you send the designer back more than once. You’re happy when there isn’t a snippet of empty space waiting to be filled with a sales pitch, and sign the order.

Your results are less than stellar, and here’s why:

  1. You confused your audience with so much information and so many sales pitches that they couldn’t make sense of it, or they felt pushed and tuned out all of your message.
    Solution: Sticking to ONE major message in an advertisement or marketing piece allows that message to shine. What is your best value proposition for the audience you’re trying to reach? Go with that as your main message. All other messages should be supporting actors that assure your viewers they need to know more.
  2. Too many visuals. Remember the saying “a picture paints a thousand words?”
    Solution: Choose graphics carefully! They should engage your audience immediately, while providing a strong relationship to your written message. Chosen well, the thousand words don’t need to be included!  Limit the number of graphics: use only one main graphic to reinforce your point, if possible. Additional graphics may include your logo and other visual cues that convey information instantly, such as the credit cards you accept, or BBB membership.
  3. You overdid the call to action. While many marketing pieces seem to forget that a call to action is essential, your piece is so full of them that your audience can’t decide what to do, let alone what to do first.
    Solution: DO have a call to action, but don’t expect your viewers to commit the next week of their lives deciding which action they need to take or which action they should do first.

The old KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) method works best when you’re marketing, both visually and in copy.

Have a well-defined goal and stick to it.

Use your website to give the deeper story and convert. Make sure your marketing piece directs your audience there.