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Changing Course Newsletter!
By Valerie Young
The following article originally appeared in The Changing Course Newsletter.
My first introduction to the American Writers & Artists Institute (AWAI) was through their Six Figure Copywriting course. Since then, I’ve become somewhat of an evangelist about the opportunities available in the copywriting and direct marketing field as well as the marketing necessity of using professional copywriters to promote a new or existing business.
Now AWAI has come out with a new course I’m equally excited about. The name of the course is Graphic Design Success.
I’ll be perfectly honest. When Lori Appling called to tell me they’d launched a graphic design course that teaches people design skills specific to the direct mail industry, my first thought was, how different can designing for direct mail be from other kinds of design work like websites or corporate brochures? As I soon learned, not only are the differences very real, but if you work for yourself like I do, these skills can make the difference between making money… or not.
In planning last summer’s Making Dreams Happen workshop, the one expense I knew I wasn’t going to scrimp on was the marketing copy. So I hired one of the best, Jennifer Stevens. Jen’s not only a freelance copywriter but as the brains behind the AWAI’s Travel Writing course, I knew she was experienced at promoting events.
Jen did a great job doing what copywriters do — using words to sell a product or service — in this case, a four-day workshop and retreat. When it came time to have Jen’s words laid out in a four page mailer, she recommended a direct mail designer named Catherine who lives and works out of her home in Ireland. At this point I was trying to save wherever I could, so I found a local designer named Tom (not his real name) who offered to do the job for less. What a mistake.
Don’t get me wrong. Tom is clearly a talented designer. But the fact that he knew so little about direct marketing made the whole process take twice as long. Worse, if it hadn’t been for Jen’s astute eye, Tom’s design would have ended up costing me sales. Why?
If I learned anything during my corporate marketing days, it’s that most designers think of themselves as graphic “artists” first and marketers second. Being creative types, most designers are concerned with one thing — how the piece looks. Many never consider whether the design will help or hinder the sales process. One of the designers on staff came up with a brochure filled with text that was not only light gray but a barely readable 9 point type size. “But it’s so hard to read,” I said. “Yes,” she cooed, “but doesn’t it LOOK fabulous?!”
Tom was no exception. Despite very clear instructions from Jen that the mailer was to be laid out letter form, his first design came out looking more like a corporate brochure. Given the whole point of the workshop was to help people escape world of cubicles and commuting, this wasn’t at all the look I was going for.
But when I really got the difference between a graphic artist and a direct mail graphic designer was when Tom was laying out the order page. Jen had told Tom to put the special early bird registration price inside of a red star burst. The artist in him balked, insisting that “star bursts look so… tacky.”
What Jen — and anyone knowledgeable about what works (and doesn’t) in direct marketing — understood that Tom clearly didn’t, was that star bursts do exactly what they’re intended to do — draw the reader’s eye to an offer that will entice them to buy. I don’t know about you, but as someone who makes their living as an entrepreneur, I’ll take selling something over artistry any day.
That very week I called Lori to get a copy of their graphic design course so I could see it for myself. I was really impressed with what I saw. I could go on and on, but instead let me tell you the eight reasons why I like the Graphic Design Success course:
I endorse this course whole heartedly. Learn more about the Graphic Design Success course itself, as well as the very real earnings potential of becoming a direct mail graphic designer.
I decided to take the Work @ What You Love Workshop and also work one-on-one with Valerie. The workshop explored so many unusual and unexpected solutions to my specific questions. I made so many new connections to what clearly works for me in crea...