Do Over

384: What Would You Do With a Marketing Do Over?

For whatever reason over the past few months, multiple auction companies have emailed me fliers, postcards, and banners designed by other vendors and asked me to redesign them.

In case you’re wondering, I love those kind of projects. I thrive under competition. More than that, though, I celebrate the chance to upgrade someone’s brand image, give them more credibility to potential buyers, and possibly get them a bigger commission.

Art is subjective. Frankly, my design style isn’t necessarily an upgrade. But certain improvements can objectively make your advertising easier to read. Specific edits can make it look more professional. Technically, these changes should not cost you a dime; and you can find them in what I changed in the samples below.

Lead with photos, not text.

Photos are more efficient at communicating than text. So, show; don’t tell. Rather than insert small photos around text on a background, use pictures with light or dark areas where text can can be shown in high contrast. Never use ghosted images, as they don’t sell the asset but do reduce readability. Note that association logos are not illustrations and aren’t recognized by most buyers or sellers. Make them small, and put them in less-prominent locations.

Create an obvious hierarchy of information.

Is there an obvious flow of information? If not, make only the most important text biggest and boldest. Draw down the size and emphasis as you provide more information for the interested customer. Whatever minimum terms your state requires do not need to be as easily read as your call to action, which doesn’t need to be as big as your headline. Don’t bury the lead. For asset auctions, the lead is the asset, the location, or the celebrity seller. For benefit auctions, the lead is the cause, charity, or headliner.

Cut redundant text.

If you’ve already said it, especially in large print, avoid saying it again. Good photos make some text redundant. (For instance, a photo of real estate or an aerial image with tract outlines negates the “REAL ESTATE” in “REAL ESTATE AUCTION.”) Removing unnecessary words will free space for photos, larger font size, and/or visual relief. One of the few exceptions to this rule would be your website address. You want the buyer’s next step to be easy to find at all times.

Use a masked version of your logo.

Few design elements scream “unprofessional design” as loudly a logo in a white box or on a rectangle of your website’s background. That means the advertiser didn’t have the right kind of logo files to give their designer. So, before your next project, make sure you have either a vector version of your logo (.ai or .eps file extension, which you’ll also need for large-format signs) or a raster version on a transparent background (.psd file extension). There are work-arounds for JPG logo files, but don’t rely on plan B unless absolutely necessary.

No matter who designs your print media, hold them to these standards. First, though, hold your brand to these standards. I know it’s hard. Entropy and familiarity fight us. Our ambition to sell and our exuberance about the auction makes restraint difficult. The more we remember that each piece is just a tease to the next step, though, the easier it becomes to trust less content to do more work. When our media consistently follows these cultural expectations, sellers and buyers will feel more at ease in the auction marketing process and with you managing it for them.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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