Design tips for your next postcard or flyer
Postcards and flyers have served as incredibly useful tools for getting the word out for as long as musicians have been promoting gigs and record releases.
They can be hung on walls and telephone poles, mailed directly to fans and the press, and handed out face-to-face to fans close to the venues hosting live shows.
Besides providing the date, time, and place of an event, a great postcard or flyer sells a benefit and triggers a buying action – such as purchasing your CD or coming to a record release performance.
While there are endless ways to design a flyer or postcard, consider these core essentials.
Write an attention-grabbing headline
Create a short, engaging phrase at the top of the flyer that will grab the attention of your target audience. Use words like “introducing,” “new,” “exclusive," and “free” and consider crafting humorous or shocking questions or commands, like "Shake Your Sloppy Grass!" for your Hawaiian BBQ gig. The headline is the most important part of any postcard or flyer, so work to make it really good and feature it prominently in your design. As advertising legend David Ogilvy once said, “If the headline doesn’t grab the reader, chances are they will not read anything else.”
Include a subhead
Add a subhead that completes your headline, gives more info, and gets the interest of your target audience. For instance, below our clever "Shake Your Sloppy Grass!" headline, you might write, “Free Hawaiian-themed BBQ Party with DJ Rock Lobster on September 20th.” Make this text slightly smaller than the headline to establish the hierarchy of importance: if everything is the same size and bold, nothing stands out.
Provide benefits in the body copy
Help your target audience make a decision about what you are offering by providing benefits. For example, tell them about the party-hearty musical style of DJ Rock Lobster, the hula dancing contest with special prizes, the large pools and Jacuzzis on the premises, the complementary grass skirts and Hawaiian leis, the excellent BBQ, and the all-night drink specials. Present this information in the body or heart of the flyer, using smaller type size, bullet points, and short sentences.
Pick a great graphic
Include an attention-grabbing, high-resolution graphic that ties in nicely with the headline. You can use graphics anywhere in the design, including as a background with your text laid out on top (just be sure you can still easily read all the text). Use your own high-resolution images (e.g. the photos you've taken with a professional photographer) or search through free stock photos on sites such as StockSnap, NASA, and many others.
Include a call to action
Write a call to action at the bottom of your design to get your reader to take the next step. For instance, you might write, “To get leied this September 20th, RSVP at www.DJRockLobster.com.”
Highlight the important information
Include important dates, start times, phone numbers, addresses, and websites. Provide this information somewhere at the bottom of the flyer or card – or at least somewhere obvious.
Include your logo and the logos of any sponsors or contributors somewhere on your postcard or flyer. Don't overdo it – be sure to keep your design clean and uncluttered.
Use a source code
A source code helps you to monitor the effectiveness of your promotion and medium, and can help you adjust your promotion campaigns according to what works best. For example, you might include a line like, “Use the promo code GRASS at the door to claim a free prize.” This way, you can see how many people showed up because of a specific postcard or flyer. But it only works if you collect and measure the information!
Use negative space
Try not to use more than three font colors and typefaces on your design, and leave a lot of blank (negative) space. Make sure your all the text is easy to read and that you leave enough room around the edges to ensure nothing is cut off when it goes to print.
Disc Makers specializes in printed promo materials, or you can rely on other online or local vendors. Just make sure to proof everything (especially your dates, times, and contact info) before going to print.
Bobby Borg is the author of Music Marketing For The DIY Musician, Business Basics For Musicians, and The Five Star Music Makeover (published by Hal Leonard Books). Get these books at any fine online store in both physical or digital format. NOTICE: Any use or reprint of this article must clearly include all copyright notices, author’s name, and link to BobbyBorg.com.