Design Your Marketing to Generate Golden Results

By Sheryl Roush, Speaker/Author, Sparkle Presentations, Inc.

Are you making serious mistakes in your marketing materials?

Over-emphasizing yourself, your service or your products in crafting your marketing materials — just may be at the expense of losing current and potential clients!  It’s easy to do!  (And we often don’t even know we’re doing it.)

More than ever, our “buyers” view marketing (printed, social or on-line) from a perspective of “What’s In It for Me?’ (WIIFM). We need to ensure our promotions keep a customer-centric viewpoint throughout the piece, post or blog.

Did You Know…?

… In the first 1-7 seconds, readers are deciding whether to read it, recycle it, or delete it.

… On websites (and opening mailed envelopes), you have less than 2.5 seconds to prove relevance to the reader — then create a sense of urgency to respond.

…You do these same things!

Interrupt Your Reader!
Your clients have more media and opportunities vying for their attention than ever before. You need to “interrupt” their plans for the moment, and make your material the most compelling thing in their focal range at that time.

There are three distinct “stages” of communicating with your readers: Relevance, Confirmation and Action. And these MUST be presented in this order for your message to be successful.

1) Relevance

In this critical stage, your readers are browsing, looking for signs that the material is relevant to them, either right now, or possibly in the near future. They’re asking, “How will this benefit me — or someone I know?” If relevance is NOT established within those first 7 seconds, the piece is tossed, email deleted, webpage closed.
TIP: Use headlines, photos (before-and-after) and captions to express create interest.

2) Confirmation

Readers are now looking to “confirm” that yes – it’s “relevant” to them… and browse further. You may have up to 90 seconds to confirm that they made the right decision to continue reading, or again, your piece may be tossed.
TIP: Capture attention in this stage by using “valuable” short body text, teasers, bullet pointed text, numbers, graphic icons, more details … BENEFIT-driven though!

3) Action

In this final stage — after readers recognize the relevance — and confirmed it, NOW they need clear instructions, on the next course of action… or a “Call to Action.”

TIP: Use longer body text for more details; facts, statistics, examples; testimonials from thrilled clients. Answer this question for them: “What should I do next?” Be specific. Who should they call? What should they do? How can they buy?

How to Get Started …. Place Elements for Impact!

Design bottom-up, or backward! Follow these simple (although it feels in reverse) design steps to get the impact you want from marketing pieces. Think of a piece of paper (like for a flyer) folded in half, then half-over again, making four quadrants, to help you visualize this.

Step 1: Concentrate on the action you want readers to take. Research shows that your “call to action” should be positioned in the bottom right-hand section of the page. Your logo is best placed here, with any/all contact information.

Step 2: Now, decide how you will grab attention and establish relevance in the upper left-hand quadrant of that page, which is where researchers say we look first at any document. What needs to be there graphically to “interrupt” readers, and capture their interest?
(Hint: NOT your logo)  A photo or visual would be ideal.

Step 3: Design the upper, right-hand corner of the page with short body copy. Give a strong, clear answer to the question: “What’s in it for me?” Across the very top – a dynamic headline!

Step 4: This last part is the payoff for the avid readers—10-15% of the population. Provide more in-depth copy for those who want to know more in the lower left quadrant of the page.

To further help you create effective marketing materials, use sample design templates and layouts, order the Solid Gold Newsletter Design book. This 176-page book is the communication design course book at the University of Ottawa.

Sheryl Roush is the President/CEO of Sparkle Presentations, Inc., based in San Diego. She has received international, national and local design awards, and has presented over 3,000 programs in eight countries. As a keynote conference speaker she has opened for Marie Osmond and closed for Geena Davis. Sheryl holds the Golden Microphone Award from the National Speakers Association, and received Member of the Year from two Southern California Chapters. She is also one of only 12 women to earn the elite Accredited Speaker designation for professional platform speaking honored by Toastmasters International, making her the 28th overall of 63 in 116 countries, of 4.4 million members. Visit for more information, blog and video clips.

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