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How NOT to Design a Flyer [Case Study]

The design world is a funny place, really.  Every now and again I come across something that is so astonishing that I simply have to blog about it.  I don't usually like calling people out on their faults, but the average customer doesn't know what to expect when it comes to hiring a designer.  As a result, the client is often taken advantage of by self-proclaimed designers who produce really sub-par designs.  Obviously, as professional designers, this is not something we want. 

This is a case study involving a client of ours who had us do a complete redesign of all his branding, from logo design to business cards to letterheads.  The issue at hand, however, is the flyer (pamphlet) design.

Take a look at the flyer design our client wanted updated:  


Now answer this question:  When do you think the above flyer was designed? 

1985? 1990? Perhaps even 2000? 

The correct answer, ladies and gents, is 2010.  That pamphlet was designed in the year 2010, not quite 2 years ago.  That is the bit that astonished me most about the design.  I might have been able to live with it had the flyer been done 10-15 years ago.  But just two years ago? I think not!

Needless to say our client barely received any response from the flyers. 

What Was So Wrong With The Flyer? 

Besides the design of the pamphlet, which looks almost prehistoric, there are a few key elements to effective marketing using pamphlets which the design and content of that flyer is missing.

1.  It doesn't highlight a problem of the client's target market. 

Marketing enthusiasts will tell you that the key to effective marketing is solving a specific problem of the user.  The above pamphlet doesn't reveal any specific problem, which makes it a rather difficult problem to solve.

2.  It doesn't explain how it solves the target market's problem.

As I touched on above, effective marketing involves proposing a solution to a user's problems. Once you've identified a problem (step 1) you need to highlight how your business solves this issue. The above pamphlet does neither. 

3.  There is no real Call-to-Action (CTA)

Once you've highlighted a reader's problems and proposed a solution, that person is now both aware of his problem and aware of the fact that you are able to solve this problem. The final part of the three pronged attack involves inviting that reader to take action using a Call-to-Action - something which the original pamphlet didn't have.  

A CTA makes it really obvious to the reader what his next logical step is.  It involves telling him what he needs to be doing, whether it's calling you, emailing you or visiting your website. 

The New Flyer Design

Fortunately, our client was already aware of many of the things I pointed out above and only needed a bit of help putting it all together.  We redesigned the flyer and this is what we came up with:


Why is That Flyer Better?

The new flyer addresses the three issues I mentioned above. 

    1. It clearly highlights the reader's problem through the use of a question. Questions are great because they prompt a reader to actually apply some thought to the matter at hand.  If you can engage a reader's mind, you're far more likely to get them to take action.
    2. It presents multiple solutions to that problem.  Each solution is yet another reason why the reader ought to use our client's services.
    3. It tells the reader what to do! ("Call Us Now") By highlighting one simple instruction for the reader to follow, you are dramatically increasing your chances of generating leads.  Be careful of offering too many instructions for the user to follow as that can often end up decreasing your conversion rates.  Stick to one simple method of communication.  

      That doesn't mean you cannot display any other details.  By all means, show them, but they don't need to be prominent! Choose the one communication method you would prefer and highlight that as your Call-to-Action. 

As you can see, the new flyer turned out "a thousand times better" (the client's words, not mine) than the last.  Now all that remains to be seen is whether this flyer converts better than the last.  I'm sure Leon from ProWalt will be more than happy to give us a report on the performance of his new flyer design once he's distributed them. 

So to sum up all the above information, bear in mind these important things when designing a flyer/having one designed:

    • The focus shouldn't be your company name or logo. 
    • The focus should be around highlighting a problem and presenting a solution.
    • Questions help provoke active thought. 
    • Give the reader a simple, clear instruction (A Call-to-Action) after presenting your solution to his problem. 

Remember that many designers aren't marketers, despite the fact that they should have a decent knowledge of effective marketing practices. Make sure you give your designer clear instructions regarding the content of your flyer or risk ending up with a pamphlet that doesn't work. 

Just for the record: I don't believe that, in this day and age, marketing using flyers is a good way to spend your advertising budget.  Research has shown that a person must see your advertising, on average, eight times before he will take action.  That's a lot of spend when it comes to advertising.  Then again, it can work if done properly.  You just need to consider whether there are other forms of advertising that might produce a better return for your business.  Just don't expect a 50% of your pamphlets to convert into leads.  

Do you think I've touched on some important points regarding effective flyer design in this post?  Let me know in the comments!

If you would like Red Giant to help you with your pamphlet design, please contact us.

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Mark is a co-founder of Red Giant Design Studio whose passion lies in business and entrepreneurship - more specifically the branding and marketing thereof. Mark enjoys helping other small business owners grow and market their businesses.

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