Take a look at your advertising budget; is there any room in there to hire a Madison Avenue marketing firm? If you're like most small businesses the answer is most likely, no. This obvious fact shouldn't preclude you from having a powerful marketing strategy. This is especially true with respect to graphic design. Whether it be a direct-mailer, coupon, flyer, billboard or brochure, it is absolutely vital to visually connect with your audience.

Before going any further, it is important to note that this article is not a tutorial on Photoshop or how tomoonlight as a graphic designer. Rather it serves as a roadmap – a guide that will lead you to the threekey components needed for a strong graphic presentation.

Synergy
In the world of marketing, synergy refers to how two or more things work in tandem. Imagine, for a moment, that you’re driving down the road and see a billboard with a large apple pictured. The same billboard has the following text, “An apple a day will keep the doctor away.” This visual would fail the synergy-test due to the fact that the apple picture and the word “apple” appear in the same place – they are redundant (not working together). 

So, how can synergy be realized in this example? Place the following text next to the picture of the apple: “Keep the doctor away.” In this scenario both pieces are working together; one wouldn’t make sense without the other. Be sure all pieces in your designs are working as a team.

Flow
Flow centers on the path one’s eye should take when looking at your graphic design. In western society we’re quite accustomed to reading from left to right; so it stands to reason to develop graphics in the same fashion. In this example you would line up the pieces in your layout so that the viewer can start with the upper left of your piece and move sequentially (with their eyes) from one part of your design to another. Their eyes would follow a Z-like pattern. 

Here are some other patterns that will produce a natural flow: vertical, horizontal, diagonal, L-shaped and so forth. Regardless of what you choose, lay things out in a linear fashion and avoid the hodgepodge (something here - something there).

Simplicity
The name of this component says it all – uncomplicate your layout. I recently thumbed through a
coupon book that arrived at our home. For some reason, virtually all of the smaller businesses in this mailer decided to dump as much content as possible in the few inches allotted on their page. I saw things like: disclaimers, years in business, logos, mascots, numerous offers, Websites, social media references, phone numbers, hours of operation, picture of the owner and more – all in the same little clipping! 

If these guys had something important to convey, it very well may have been suffocated by the
sheer volume of “other stuff”. Make things easy for your audience – unclutter and be concise.

Walter R. Dailey is a former ad agency partner and experienced marketing professional. He is a marketing speakerand executive producer at Dailey Sound Vector Media, a creative services organization that specializes in developing radio ads, jingles and marketing campaigns for small businesses throughout North America.  Ask Walter your questions at walter@dsvmedia.com