Making a Great Impression

By Josh Barinstein

Making a great first impression is undoubtedly a good thing. But did you know that it can take many impressions–seven is a favorite number–before our brains actually respond favorably to an attractive deal? This makes sense, given the need for human beings to feel comfortable and at ease with anything new, but it is often overlooked in marketing efforts! Too many times, marketing campaigns will fail to give the target audience enough time to adjust, enough time for the individual to put aside her fears and finally say: “I’m going for it.”

So what constitutes a great impression? Impressions come in many shapes and forms, such as materials on your company, a “we’re moving” card, a hello email, a FAXed testimonial, a special yearly gift, a holiday card, and so much more. Choose these wisely and mix them up, to keep prospectives and existing clients interested (yes, existing clients need reminders too that you’re out there ready when they need you).

A very effective impression is a mailer. Not just any mailer, but one that sends out a powerful message, one that elicits a response from the reader. Keep these key things in mind when you work on your next Print piece:

  • Your mailer needs both to inform and to prompt the audience to take action. For example, sending out a “we’ve moved” card and including a coupon for 10% off the next purchase or project. Or, sending a holiday card for Thanksgiving and providing space for listing people to whom to give thanks. In both cases, you get your audience to participate and, in doing so, make a contribution to them.
  • You need a headline that grabs and copy that flows. To come up with a strong headline, focus on the purpose of the mailer, on the main message you are trying to convey. Is it to thank the receiver? Is it to announce a change at your company? Is it to invite them to participate in some event?
    Develop copy that stems from the headline and stays on course. Be concise and to the point–readers don’t have much time.
  • Design needs to appeal. Be sure to keep taste in mind! Spend time on font, color, and the few, but well-selected elements (for example, taking the time to have a good photograph taken, which makes a huge difference). Don’t overdo it, though, as with the text. Visuals should never overpower the copy, and vice-versa.
  • Beware the clutter. Again, here comes the good old brain. Too many messages, too much text, too many graphics and that card will be tossed. Keep it simple and don’t forget that you’re competing against many other mail pieces.

A good example card might be one in which a company creates excitement by offering something for free to a lucky winner. The headline’s job is to draw the reader in to find out what she might win and how to go about participating. Next to the main copy might be an image of key company staff proudly holding an award recently won (with caption below, which people will almost always read). Not only would email address and phone number be provided, but also a pre-stamped and addressed card for them to send in, if so desired.

The above example works well on many levels:

  1. It makes a powerful impression.
  2. It subtly shares information about the company (the award).
  3. It gets the audience involved in an event where someone will win something at absolutely no cost.
  4. It makes it extremely easy to participate.

So remember, don’t stop at the first or second impression. Keep going with seven impacts in mind–always trying new things to see what works best for you–and you will see how your audience comes around to the value in what your company has to offer. Be ready for a lot more new and repeat business too…!

About the author:
Josh Barinstein is Principal at Eclectic Multimedia (, an award-winning creative agency in Newbury Park, California. Eclectic produces powerful and communicative Print, Web, and Multimedia CD-ROM pieces, and may be contacted at (805) 480-9750. Josh may be reached directly at

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