5 Winning Advertising Techniques for Posters, Flyers, and Mailers

Contracting a Madison Avenue ad agency will cost you an arm and a leg (and quite possibly an ear and a spine and an eye or two!) If you’re a multimillion dollar company then ad agency prices are mere pocket change, but how can the rest of us compete with big companies and teams of advertising experts?  Well funnily enough, it’s not magic what advertising agencies do and it’s not out of the realms of possibility that you can’t replicate some of these same advertising techniques.

Having spent a large part of my career in ad agency environments, here are 5 techniques that I’ve learned over the years that you can apply to your own poster, flyer, mailer, and print campaigns:

1. Now! Juxtapose!!!

The “juxtapose” is probably the most widely used idea vehicle for transferring meaning. It illustrates “problem and answer” in very quick and immediate terms. Often funny, outrageous or charming, this advertising technique is something that ad people use to connect with people’s emotions, feelings, struggles, etc.

It’s the idea of “contrast.” If you look at the wonderful poster example for Comforta Beds below, there’s an obvious and deliberate contrast between the man falling asleep, and the baby sleeping in his place.

Comforta Baby 18082011

Original Source: http://rgb.vn/ideas/advertising/nhung-thiet-ke-quang-cao-dep-tuyet-voi

Advertisements like this prove the old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  The concept of “sleeping like a baby” works so much better as a visual in which you can see and empathize with the image.

2. Putting Va-Vroom into Your Writing

Creating a headline or proposition is one of the keys to a great campaign. It can even be the basis of your entire company brand. Nike, for instance, built its whole brand around the phrase “Just do it!” This phrase has since become a mantra for people who want to change their bodies, job, lifestyle…take your pick! “Just do it” is evidence of how powerful and compelling a headline or proposition can be.  No one’s expecting you to create the next “Just do it,” however, it’s not difficult to put power and intent in your own writing.

Take the following image as our example; Christine Lupo has created a very powerful flyer advertisement for Mini Cooper through clear message and intent. The major selling point of Mini Cooper is that they are so inexpensive for such a high-performance car. This major selling point has been deftly illustrated in the copy that is both memorable and fun (which un-coincidentally is another major selling point of the Mini Cooper).

Comforta Baby 18082011

Original Source: http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/11/40-seriously-funny-print-ads/

When writing copy for your flyers, posters, mailers or anything else, you should understand that with the use of certain words, you’re more likely to get results.  Now, you’re unlikely to become a headline writing genius overnight, but there are certainly a few techniques you can use to make your language more personal and impelling.

Here is a list of essential headline writing techniques:

  • Always use present tense
  • Try to use the word “you” or “your” far more than “I” “me” or “we”
  • Questions are powerful but only ask questions that force a positive reply – don’t ask questions where the answer can be “no” or “I don’t care”
  • Here are a small selection of power words that cause action in the reader:
    • You
    • Your
    • Find
    • Discover
    • Get
    • This
    • These
    • Now
    • Fast
    • Easy
    • Save
    • Stronger
    • Lower
    • Higher
    • Eliminate
    • Do

3.  The Marriage of Your Words and Pictures

Having a great headline is one thing, having great copy is another, making them work together is a marriage made in heaven! When creating any advertising piece, you should always think about these two fundamentals as one integrated concept. Creating them out-of-sync rarely produces great results and is the reason why ad agencies employees are separated into Art Director/Copywriter teams.

When coming up with your initial concepts, it’s helpful to sketch your ideas on a pad of paper and create thumbnails of your ideas. This ensures that you’re thinking of the concept as a whole and not as individual components.

The example below for EPhone is a brilliant example of words and images working in perfect harmony.  The ad is telling a visual story that is so witty and compelling.  The idea that the product has super fast internet is beautifully illustrated with the image and copy. In this example, the ad would not work if either of these components were missing.

Comforta Baby 18082011

Original Source: http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/11/40-seriously-funny-print-ads/

4. Think Outside the Box, Flyer, Poster, etc!

Originality doesn’t have to cost you pots of cash.  It’s often simply a case of using what you have for optimum effect. A strong idea can turn something as simple as envelopes into something spectacular.  Take the following example from German ad team, Manuel Knill and Alexander Nagel for the Marttini Knife Company. The way that people struggle to fillet fish can be explained away in a very literal sense by the simple addition of a “fish” graphic to the envelope.  This is an absolute genius piece of advertising that makes the direct mailer so interactive and fun.

Comforta Baby 18082011Original source: http://www.behance.net/gallery/The-Marttiini-Fish-Mailing/6949489

There’s nothing stopping you from doing something as clever and effective for your own company.  Consider putting a message or graphic on the front of your envelope to impel the recipient to open it. Try to make your own direct mailers say something about your brand without settling for a plain envelope and generic direct mail message.

5. Make the Payoff

All the cleverness and brilliant imagery in the world might not be worth a fig if you can’t make your print ad pay off. You have to have a reason and objective.  This objective and CTA (call-to-action) could be as simple as getting the viewer to call a number; either way, if you have a clear strategy, your ad will at the very least be performing a functional task.

The direct mail postcard flyer by Kent Graham below is both creative and functional. The postcard that looks like a pop tart was sent through the post to be opened up with the breakfast mail.  The intriguing “scratch and sniff” concept not only has some brilliantly clever copywriting, but also has a clear objective of creating awareness of the 12 collectible scratch and sniff stickers in  pop tart boxes among kids and parents. It also offers a coupon incentive.

Comforta Baby 18082011Original source: http://www.behance.net/gallery/PopTart-Scratch-n-Sniff-Direct-Mail/4861251

This may seem obvious but these simple strategies such as discounts and incentives are often the most effective. Here is a list of some pay-off strategies:

  • Offering discount coupons and gift certificates to get people to act
  • Creating urgency with weekend sales
  • Offering online discounts and codes
  • Sending comparative listings (proving lowest cost)
  • Making promise statements and guarantees
  • Showing price reductions on individual services or products
  • At NextDayFlyers, we have everything you need to create your own successful advertising posters, flyers, direct mailers, and other products.
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About ben

Ben Fellowes is a seasoned designer, writer, and marketing expert. He's designed and produced content for some of the worlds top agencies and marketing companies. He's currently working (and getting his fair English skin burned) in Southern California! He loves art, punk rock, horror films, Sci-Fi, comic books, real beer, cooking, eating, laughing, and crying (sometimes!)

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2 Responses to “5 Winning Advertising Techniques for Posters, Flyers, and Mailers”

  1. bmorrblues@aol.com'
    Barbara Morrison Says:

    Need your help bad. I own and operate a performing arts center and out schedule is constantly changing.

    Reply

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