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Wednesday, May 07, 2008


How do you break through the clutter? In today's post, learn some basic techniques for getting through to your prospects.

You have a message to communicate to your prospective customer. Unfortunately, they're so overwhelmed by advertisements and other promotional information that the chances of your message getting across are slim to none. Indeed, studies show that the average consumer in this country is bombarded with nearly 3500 commercial messages a day.

So what can you do to make sure your target market takes notice? What can you do to make sure your organization is presented in the best possible light?

Speak Directly to Your Customer

Use delivery channels that allow for one-to-one communication. For example, it's more difficult to target a prospect or client through a mass media vehicle like television, versus direct electronic mail where your audience volunteers to hear from you. Untargeted, mass-marketing efforts are often disruptive to a prospect (think of the commercials you're thrown to when you hear the familiar, "right after these messages" from television game show hosts).

Media that allows you to communicate more directly to your audience, like variable-data printing (VDP), allow for the customization of text and imagery in print and electronic media. For example, with variable-data and digital printing, it's possible to retrieve an individual's area of interest from a database so that the photography and text in a brochure is tailored specifically to their needs. Always consider media channels that allow you to speak to your audience on their terms.

Be Unique

Make sure your visual marketing is as distinct and individual as your organization. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you see (or hear) a commercial for an automobile dealership? There seems to be an unwritten rule that they must all be loud and overbearing. You know which spots we're talking about: 20 font styles with 20 different colors; flashing, flying and spinning video and graphics; and an extremely loud voiceover. Does the similarity of these commercials help one dealership stand out from the others?

The same holds true for visual communication efforts that use templates, clip art, or overused formats. You deserve a visual presence that is as unique as your organization. Don't follow the crowd--rise above it!

Keep It Clean and Simple

Keep the visual design of your communication uncluttered and approachable. Whether it's on your website, a company brochure, or a billboard, less is usually better. This is particularly true for communication that is introductory in nature. Until a prospective customer becomes interested enough to dig deeper and learn more, present your message in an easily digestible format--most people get overwhelmed when they are presented with too much information. A clean and simple design helps them more easily find what they're after.

Be Consistent

Use a family of typefaces, colors, backgrounds and graphic elements for your communication pieces. Be consistent in your identity marks--make sure your logo is consistent in its presentation, including any associated type treatment. Make it easy on yourself--there's no reason to reinvent the wheel for every new communication piece you develop.

Once your organization has established an appropriate visual identity, you want to be consistent in your branding efforts. Make it easy for your customers to recognize your organization in all of your visual messages.

If you follow these guidelines in your visual marketing, your messages will be targeted, clear, memorable, and separate you from the crowd.

About the Author:
David B. Coleman is a visual communications specialist and founder of Imagine, an award-winning visual marketing firm in South Bend, Indiana. With 25 years in visual communications, he has provided consultation for such noteworthy clientele as the Cleveland Clinic, the Quaker Oats Company, NBC Sports, Bayer Corporation, the Odyssey Channel, and the University of Notre Dame. Imagine can be found at http://www.imaginevisualmarketing.com/.

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