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Direct Mail Design Tips to Maximize Effectiveness

Direct mail

There are dozens of distinct types of direct mail design formats to choose from, including catalogs, postcards, envelopes and letters, brochures, greeting cards, newsletters, and more.

And designing each type of direct mail has key differences to consider. For example, when designing your catalog, you need to account for the different pages. For brochures, you need to take into consideration the type of fold you are designing for.

While there are specific design factors that come into play for each different type of direct mail product, there are overarching things that never change. And to ensure an effective direct mail design, no matter if you’re designing a postcard or catalog, these direct mail design tips will help you launch a successful direct mail campaign.

7 Direct Mail Design Tips to Maximize your Next Campaigns

1. Know Who Your Audience Is 

Direct mail campaigns are typically sent to existing customers or a new audience, and no matter what, you need to make sure your direct mail pieces are designed for your specific target audience. You need to understand what your audience wants and what they are interested in so you can better design your direct mail pieces in a way that persuades them to act. For example, what offers will your audience respond to. What kind of images reflect who they are? What tone and style will they resonate more with? 

When you know who you’re targeting in your direct mail campaign, you’ll be better able to design an effective direct mail message. 

2. Consider the Copy Carefully 

The copy within your direct mail design should be clear, concise, tailored to your target audience, and it should be organized well. Direct the copy to your audiences’ interests; for example, if you’re promoting your restaurant, what is important to your audience? Could it be your family friendly atmosphere or your unique and international dishes? Whatever is important to your target audience, from the tone to the actual words, you want to include it within your copy. 

You also want to make sure your copy is clear and gets straight to the point. You have less than 5 seconds to grab your audiences’ attention when they first view your direct mail piece, so you want to be careful not to include too much text that may turn the reader away from your message. 

3. Stick to Your Brand Guidelines 

Follow your brand guidelines within your direct mail design. And don’t forget to include your logo! 

Brand guidelines are a set of rules and standards that need to be followed to ensure your brand is being represented consistently. And they should be followed throughout all marketing channels, including direct mail. If your company uses a certain tone, whether playful or serious, or if your brand has a set typeface you use for all printed materials, website content, and digital marketing collateral, then you should use that tone and typeface in your direct mail design as well. 

This goes for colours, icons, image formatting, and style as well. The goal is to have all your marketing materials, and other branded content united so that it strengthens your brand and so that no matter if someone is looking at your postcard, poster, or display ad, they know it’s you. 

4. Use Imagery That Reflects Your Message 

Once you know who your audience is, and have the messaging down, you want to choose imagery that reflects both. For example, if you’re including images of people, choose ones that include people who are around the same age as your audience. If you’re a family-oriented business targeting families, include an image of a family, or if you’re targeting people with pets, include images of people with their pets. 

The imagery you choose to include within your direct mail design, of course, should be of high quality with a resolution of at least 300 dpi to ensure crisp printing of your imagery, but it also needs to reflect your audience and your message. For instance, if a credit union was promoting their auto loan services, they could use an image that has a car in it, while their direct mailer that promotes their low-interest home equity loans could include an image of a family in their home. 

This may sound like an easy decision, but it’s so important to remember within your direct mail design because images are often the first thing people notice, which means your images need to quickly grab your recipient’s attention and attract them to read more.  

5. Use Negative Space and High Contrast in Your Direct Mail Design 

When it comes to design in general, whether for a sign, a digital advertisement, or direct mail, you always want to include contrast, negative space and/or white space. This doesn’t mean you need to include the actual colour white; instead, you want the background of your design (whether black, red, or blue) to balance and break up the design elements. This will make it easier for your audience to read and absorb the information you are sharing with them. 

What is the first thing you want your audience to look at? What is the most important part of your direct mail design? This may include your headline or image, and it will always include your call to action. Whatever it is, you need to use contrast to draw attention to your most important design elements. Using sharp contrast in your direct mail design not only drives attention to vital information but it also makes your direct mail stand out and makes it easier for your audience to read. 

Also, when you use negative space successfully or contrast colour elements, it can help highlight and bring attention to your most important direct mail design elements. For example, make sure to include a good amount of negative space around your call to action or CTA—like a frame bordering your CTA. 

6. Personalize Your Direct Mail Pieces 

When you’re designing your mail piece, it’s very important to account for your overall audience, but what about each individual recipient? 

When you customize each individual direct mail design to reflect each recipient, you can increase your response rate by 135%. 

Plus, it’s easy to do! With Variable Data Printing you can easily and affordably create personalized designs for everyone who is receiving your direct mail piece. This includes names, images, colours, and more so that not only does your direct mail design reflect who your audience and brand is, but it also is personalized for each recipient. 

7. Include a Call to Action (CTA) That will Promote Action 

A good strategy for your direct mail design is to start backwards. What does success of the campaign look like? How do you want them to get a hold of you? Then, include a call to action your audience can’t refuse that meets the answers to those two questions.  

When you offer something, like a freebie or deal, it makes it hard for your audience to ignore and gives them even more of a reason to take you up on your offer. When you do provide your audience a reason—other than your fantastic products and services—then it intrigues and excites them. The unrefusable offer is the first step.  

Include the details for how you want them to respond to you. You must include a phone number, email, URL, QR code, etc. so they can get a hold of you. 

You need to track them when do respond. Consider a unique landing page, a phone number specifically for the campaign, or an alias email used solely for this direct mail campaign.  


Direct mail is an effective and profitable tactic for many businesses just like yours. Looking for a local printing company that specializes in direct mail design, mail production, print and delivery to Canada Post? At Minuteman Press Calgary Shepard, we stand out from the rest. Trust us to manage your project from start to finish. Ready to get started? Request a Quote today to learn more

3 additional articles from Minuteman Press Calgary Shepard on Direct Mail: 

Best Friends: Direct and Digital Marketing Better Together 

6 Inexpensive Ways You Should Use Print to Bolster Your Word-Of-Mouth Marketing 

How Postcard Marketing Can Help Your Brand Stand Out 

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6 Autumn Seasonal Marketing Tips To Help Your Small Business Get Noticed

Autumn Seasonal Marketing

With Labour Day in the rear-view mirror, are you ready for Autumn seasonal marketing? We aren’t just talking pumpkin-spice lattes and use of spooky fonts. Just be sure that the messaging and imagery you use are in line with  your brand’s personality. And that you get going as early as you can. As with any other campaign, the more prepared you are, the better your results will be.  

There are a lot of things that you can get your clients and prospects excited about. With the pandemic, many events and plans are looking a bit different – much of it remains remote.  That is likely more reason to adapt your Fall seasonal marketing campaigns and possibly try out some new marketing ideas. Below are 6 Tips to kick your Autumn seasonal marketing into high gear: 

1. Add seasonal content

Themes like seasons can inspire great content! For example, Autumn seasonal marketing for a restaurant might be to design and print recipes with a Fall theme in mind. Similarly, a mechanic might run a feature profiling a winterization package. An accountant can write about how to prepare a business in the build up to tax time. Simply put, any type of business can get inspiration from the change of season and use it to provide relevant, up-to-date and interesting content for their business. Just be sure to ensure your seasonal content is of value. Creating quality content can and will pay dividends for your business. There’s lots of space to be creative with your Fall seasonal marketing content, but make sure it doesn’t come across as tenuous, opportunistic or, worst of all, useless. 

2. Add some autumn colour 

Give your brand a temporary refresh by designing your Autumn seasonal marketing with the amazing colours and distinctive hues of the season. You have a whole colour pallet to choose from across your marketing inventory to provide you the opportunity to adapt the look and feel of your Fall marketing materials. Autumn colours range from luminous reds and deep pinks, luxurious ambers and burnt oranges, radiant yellows and enigmatic shades of black. Although there is a wide range of seasonal colours to choose from, core elements like your logo, your brand personality, writing style and font, should stay consistent whatever the season. Deviating between visual or verbal identities will only serve to confuse customers and sacrifice your hard-won reputation and brand recognition. 

Pumpkins are synonymous with fall because of the weather, not just Halloween. Imagery can also be incorporated into promo emails you send your subscribers. You can tie each promo into a particular Fall holiday, occasion or theme (e.g. pumpkins, leaves that have changed colours, Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc.) You can also try doing a play on words e.g. “Fall into _____ sale!” If possible, try to offer Autumn seasonal marketing promotions on products or services that are particularly popular or useful this time of year. 

3. Fall-themed Storefront 

An autumn themed storefront is like an open invitation to the community. Businesses with storefronts have a fantastic opportunity to have fun and create interest with the season. Decorating your business’s window with posters or window clings – any signage – in Autumn colour is like an open invitation for the community to come in and look around. You could also consider a sandwich board outside your storefront or in the neighbourhood with decorative messages and promotions.  These little touches can help humanize your brand and make your shop more welcoming. 

4. Don’t forget your online presence 

Your on-line stores and lead conversion websites can also get into the spirit with an Autumn-themed brochure. You could create autumn editions of popular branded merchandise. Items that people are more likely to use in autumn. Long sleeve T-shirt’s, branded sockscoffee/soup mugs and keep cups can all be produced in autumn colours and sold online. If you produce branded products, you could give them an autumn twist like using autumn colours on your labels and packaging. All of these things can refresh your brand and create renewed interest in your products. 

5. Create a marketing calendar 

As a business, it is very important that you shift your marketing strategies from season to season. Public dates like Halloween and Thanksgiving create the perfect springboard for Fall marketing activities. It shows your audience that you’re in tune with the transitions they are experiencing. And it helps them connect with you too, when they see you marking occasions that are special to them. 

On top of Halloween and Thanksgiving, there is back to school, seasonal start of Fall, World Smile Day (10/1), sports season starts, small business week, and more. Special dates provide the perfect springboard for marketing activities of all types, from time-limited promotional sales to an autumn specific menu. Creating a marketing calendar will help you identify dates you want to work around and will ensure you give yourself enough time to plan and implement a campaign designed specifically for this time of year. It will also ensure that you won’t forget a special date that has the potential to be significant to your business. 

6. Autumn themed direct mail campaign 

Showcase the changing of the season the old fashioned way with direct mail (and, don’t forget to add value by including a coupon). With the onset of digital marketing, sending things by mail is somewhat a lost art these days, which provides an opportunity to put yourself front and centre into your customers mind. Most people, when receiving a brightly coloured mail pack from a brand they have used in the past, will open and read it just to see what is on offer. Alternatively, you could simply highlight an autumn-themed sale your business is running. Ensure the design of your mailer has enough Autumn flair to draw your customers attention. 

Post Press 

Are you ready for your fall marketing?  Go ahead and take these Autumn seasonal marketing ideas as inspiration for your fall campaigns this year. And don’t be afraid to tailor and customize as needed to the needs of your business niche. You can use the above tips to assist you in framing how you “fall into the season.” Don’t know where to start? Contact the team at Minuteman Press Calgary Shepard. We Design. We Print. You Profit. 

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6 Inexpensive Ways You Should Use Print to Bolster Your Word-Of-Mouth Marketing

Word of Mouth

Your customers who have an extreme experience when using your products or services can and will share their stories with fellow consumers. This word-of-mouth exchange happens when the experience was very good or very bad – seldom in the middle. When good, they will even recommend the company over other competitors. When not as good, it can really be valuable for you to listen to complaints and determine if there is room for improvement. Interestingly, businesses can use design and print partners like Minuteman Press Calgary Shepard to capitalize on the word-of-mouth advertising they receive – even for those non-extreme customers.

Why is word-of-mouth marketing important in 2021?

In one word: Trust. Word-of-mouth is the primary factor of over half of all purchasing decisions in the past year. If you want to influence people to buy from you, you need to make word-of-mouth considerations as part of your marketing strategy. Trust comes in three ways: noise, skepticism and connectivity.

People face an overwhelming amount of ad noise every day. To avoid being overwhelmed by it, people seek out the opinions and impressions of others in their networks. This allows them to properly decide what’s worth paying attention to.

People want products from trusted companies, but they are often skeptical of marketing ads. But they are far less skeptical of their friends and family and their opinions. They also prefer to consider recommendations and reviews from your existing customers and your brand advocates/ambassadors.

Consumers are connected to each other now more than ever. Word-of-mouth existed long before the internet and social media was ever conceived. But, with so many people connected through social media platforms and online communities, any news has the potential for virality. Experiences – good and bad – travels at an unprecedented pace and scale.

Brand Awareness Spreads Through Word-of-Mouth

Word-of-mouth marketing doesn’t stop after a single interaction between friends. Once someone spreads information to a new person, then that individual will spread it in turn—and on and on. Even if these conversations don’t lead to purchases, they bring brands into awareness. When a company or product is widely discussed, then their reputation builds as they are exposed to more channels where referral marketing is present.

How can you use print to help your company’s word-of-mouth experiences?

Below are 6 inexpensive ways you can use print to foster positive word-of-mouth marketing for your business can include such things as:

  1. Testimonials                
    Companies can gather testimonials from clients with positive reviews to incorporate into their advertising campaigns. These printed or digital word-of-mouth reviews can be printed on various stationery or used as social media posts. Using consumer testimonials can amplify past client opinions to prospects and new clients – particularly those that support the business. This activity can increase the number of people who are influenced by their review.
  2. Flyers/Brochures
    Printed advertisements, such as professionally printed flyers or brochures, can display printed or digital word-of-mouth testimonials to reinforce the features and benefits of a product or service. Adding testimonials written by satisfied customers can help build a favorable reputation for the business to those who are handed the ads.
  3. Customized forms       
    Marketers can use print shops to make customized forms that their clients can complete when visiting your company. Much of this activity has moved online but if you have a business with in-person clients, having success story forms available to be filled in, can allow valuable testimonials to be hand-delivered directly to your business. And, in turn can be printed and distributed to future clients.
  4. Coupons                       
    We can help design your forms to include coupons offering exclusive promotions like discounts as incentives. This in-hand solution can sway the perception of your company to submit reviews of your company.
  5. Direct Mail                   
    Whether it is coupons or flyers or a handwritten postcard, these can also be mailed.
  6. Promotional Gifts        
    You can send personalized corporate gifts to clients with positive testimonials to maintain their perception of the company. Showing appreciation for the kind word-of-mouth reviews may influence customers to continue recommending the business to other people while promoting continued loyalty towards the brand.


Ready to get the word-of-mouth marketing ball rolling for your business? Minuteman Press Calgary Shepard is your one stop shop for everything you need to make an impression this summer. Contact us for a quote today!

We Design. We Print. You Profit!