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From Karen Saunders

Your Branding, Marketing & Self-Publishing Coach

10 Questions to Answer Before You Create a Marketing Piece

Are you ready to create a marketing piece, but don’t know where to start? Regardless if you’re doing it yourself or getting professional design and writing help, there are some simple, yet essential steps to follow that will make the whole process go smoothly and prevent costly mistakes.

Here are 10 questions to answer before you create a marketing piece:

  1. What is the purpose or objective of your piece — to entertain, inform or to persuade? What action do you want your prospects to take — request information, visit your website or call you? Keep your marketing purpose in mind when you write the text, gather visuals to support the text, and set up your design.
  2. Who is your intended target audience? Identifying your audience helps you to grab their interest by using a targeted message, persuasive words and appropriate graphics, photos, fonts and colors.
  3. What is your graphics theme or brand? Are you creating a multiple-piece campaign? Develop a storyline and stick with it. Your message, fonts, and graphics should all build and support the theme you’ve selected.
  4. How will you compose your message? Will you be writing the content or do you need the help of a copywriter or editor? Have you determined the key benefits and persuasive words for your piece?
  5. What graphic information will you include? Fill in any gaps you have in your content with illustrations, photos, tables, quotes, and other graphic elements. When you gather these elements first, you’ll have a visual sense of how much space they will take up as you prepare your design.
  6. Have you talked with your print shop about print specifications for this project? It’s important to determine trim size (final size of a printed piece), binding, bleeds (the area of a graphic or photo that extends beyond the edge of the trimmed sheet), number of inks, choice of spot inks or process inks, folds and scores (creasing paper mechanically so it will fold more easily) and paper stock before you even begin your design. Get multiple print bids; compare prices, quality and turnaround times.
  7. How will your piece be distributed? Get bids and research options for distribution. Will electronic or printed distribution work best? Will the distribution of this piece be scheduled with other media releases?
  8. What postal regulations may affect your design? If your piece will be mailed, check with the post office for regulations regarding labeling, folding, size restrictions, the weight of the paper to use, proper positioning, postal cost and exact wording of postal information on the mailer you’re designing. Is it going first class or bulk mail? Will your piece need to be designed to fit into an envelope?
  9. What is your schedule? You’ll need to determine a realistic timetable for all processes in your project: planning, conceptualization, writing, editing, designing, proofreading, printing, binding, labeling, distribution.
  10. What is the cost for each step in the process in your budget? Create a budget, then take time to shop around for the best prices that come within your budget.

By answering these questions, you will be better prepared for the production process—the natural workflow for your project and most likely will complete your project on time and within your budget.

Now on a personal note . . . I want to share some fantastic news with you.

A card I created of my puppy for my mom won the “2008-2009 Best Heartfelt Card Design of the Year” in the SendOutCards Picture Plus Card Design Contest. This card had already taken first place in July during a monthly contest, but now it is recognized as the best heartfelt card of the YEAR! I am thrilled and honored to receive this recognition. If you want to know how I did this, or learn more about SendOutCards, just pop me an email or call me at 303-680-2330. Here is the front of my card:

front cover

This is the inside spread. It is a 3-panel card.


create a marketing piece : greeting card interior spread

This is the fold-over panel:

folded panel