Together, copy and design represent the resources available to us to communicate our products and services through direct mail and email. A good designer can make a copywriter appear brilliant, and vice versa.
Four Basic Objectives
There are four basic objectives in designing promotion materials:
- 1. Get the reader’s attention by communicating the most important benefits of the product or service.
- 2. Make it clear that there is an advantage to consider the purchase now.
- 3. Demonstrate that the value of the benefits far exceeds the cost.
- 4. Provide a clear cost justification for the purchase.
The underlying motive for readership in advertising material is self-interest. This self-interest may be on behalf of an individual or the institution that individual represents. Most of us peruse or scan our postal and email. Do I have a need for this product or service? Do the benefits sound like they will solve an existing problem? Is this something I find intriguing? If we think the message is of importance we read further, otherwise it goes into the physical or electronic wastebasket.
Benefits Before Features
It is the job of our creative to make the most appealing aspect of our product or service stand out. For most of us, our interest is in what a product or service does for us before we want to know its physical characteristics. A good place to start is to focus on benefits.
For example, education products can save time, raise test scores, make learning fun, make teaching more enjoyable, and so forth. One enjoys these benefits by using the product or service. If we can communicate benefits, we have a better chance at sustaining readership.
Where possible visuals should include people enjoying the benefits of the product in a school or classroom setting. Our goal is to have the readers envision themselves, as they would benefit from the product or service.
Photographs offer an additional opportunity to communicate product benefits by using captions. If the photo is pleasing, we are likely to read the caption to learn more. This is an opportunity to describe additional benefits in the caption.
On Sale Now!
Announcing a sale or discount often succeeds in getting people to read further. Before we discard the promotion message, we have a tendency to want to see exactly what is for sale, and how much we can save. Another technique to engage readers includes promoting new or newly revised products and services with a focus on the benefits provided by the new and revised product features.
We can also use visuals to depict value. We can demonstrate value through simple charts that list the features of our product or service. We can itemize these features so that graphically they appear to be considerable in comparison to the price.
Finally, we need to highlight the cost justification argument that we think will best serve our readers. Whether paid for by institutional funds or out of a teacher’s pocket, a successful product or service should be cost justifiable. Do not leave the justification argument to potential purchasers for they are not likely to make as strong a case as we can.
As the cost of the product or service rises, the need for a strong cost justification argument increases. Along with the increase in price comes an increase in the number of individuals necessary to agree on and approve the expenditure. In some cases, cost justification is the sole reason for deciding whether to purchase.