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How To Improve Your Publicity Design

specialized skills for the publicity designer

Freelance designers who specialize in marketing materials are in high demand. As a result, freelance promotions designers can make up to $80 per hour. So what specialized skills do you need to be a publicity designer? Actually, you don't need any.

I look for designers who have an awareness of my marketing goals. I look for designers who will sit and read my copy, and will only start to conceptualize the design when they have analyzed the copy. I look for designers who combine artistic talent with some basic marketing knowledge to help them interpret the brief.

And I'm not alone. I'm sure I speak for most campaign managers and copywriters. In short, these are the words of your prospective clients, so take heed. If you want to get ahead of the competition in the publicity design arena, you need to learn the basics of marketing and copywriting.

Buy a copywriting manual

coverLearning the basic rules of marketing and copywriting is easy. Forget about the expensive courses, you can learn the essentials with a good book. The three best are:

The Copywriter's Handbook, Third Edition: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells. Revised and Expanded,
Robert W. Bly (Owl Books, Third Edition: 2006)
A clear, comprehensive guide to the business of and techniques used in advertising copywriting. Includes guidance on the tasks of a copywriter, the copywriting business, and how to write a variety of different printed publicity including public relations material, radio and TV commercials, speeches and sales literature.

Teach Yourself Copywriting,
cover Jonathon Gabay
Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 3 edition (2003)
A guide for anyone who needs to know how to produce advertising and marketing materials. The revised edition includes chapters on e-mail and Internet marketing and covers new theories and practices in copywriting. Fully revised for today's practical copywriting requirements, Teach Yourself Copywriting reveals some of advertising's greatest creative secrets. From planning to implementation, it guides readers step-by-step through copywriting skills for a range of disciplines, including the most up-to-date information on the Internet, radio and TV, business-to-business, public relations, recruitment, and charities. Featured are practical exercises, summaries, and quick tips that allow readers to practice their skills, along with a list of useful addresses.

100 Copywriting Tips for Designers and Other Freelance Artists,
Shaun J. Crowley (Shaun Crowley E-publishing, 2006)
My book, written specifically for designers, reveals 100 copywriting tricks-of-the-trade including guidance on planning and conceptualizing web and print publicity, how to produce publicity that sells, and how to marry your copy and visuals together. Click here to download it.
I've provided an online sample chapter (PDF) for your review.

Freelance POP display design and exhibition display design

Freelance display design is one of the most challenging areas of publicity design. You only have ten seconds to grab people's attention and lure them over to the product or exhibition stand. At the same time, your design must be consistent with the product's or company's brand image, and communicate its sales message immediately.

Here are 10 tips for effective POP display design and exhibition display design.

1. Always think about who the customer is. Who will buy the product? Who will be drawn to the display? What are their likely ages, genders, occupations, incomes, personality types, goals, and aspirations? Use your knowledge of the customer to inform your design.

2. The headline is king. It is the mouth-piece of the display. Your design must reinforce the strengths of the headline to help communicate its sales message immediately. Keep the headline simple and easy to read from a distance.

3. Use compelling images for eye-catching impact. Images have more impact if they are clear, specific, and definable. For example, an image of a telephone on a plain background is more likely to grab attention than an image of indefinable objects such as bubbles, wisps, or stripes.

4. Faces tend to grab more attention than inanimate objects.

5. Use the best quality images you can. Urge your client to buy the more expensive photos, not the cheap free images. Make sure the resolution is sufficient for large exhibition panels. All images must appear crisp and vivid at full size.

6. Brand your display with a visual theme, if you are creating multiple display banners, so people recognize and remember it. Most importantly, the theme must connect to the brand in some way, either via the logo design or the message of the slogan. It's no use people remembering your design if they can't attribute it to the company or product.

7. Include the product in the visuals you use. Make the product look as good as possible. Make it 3D, make it glow or sparkle, make it jump out and look desirable.

8. Always conceptualize your display so that the product is presented or demonstrated in the best way possible. Don't hide or embed the product, make the design revolve around the product so the product commands maximum attention.

9. Jazz-up your POP displays by using different types of materials. You don't have to print on cardboard-try using acrylic, canvass, or glass-but make sure the material you use is consistent with the product image.

10. Strive for a unique look. Find out what other types of designs your display will be competing with, and use this to inform your approach. For example, if no one else is using fluorescent colors, and this is consistent with the brand image, use fluorescent colors. Maybe you can use lighting to your advantage. Gizmos like battery powered lighting or interactive features help give the display a unique look.

Why don't you write the POP displays yourself?

In many ways it makes more sense for the designer to conceptualize, write, and design POP display design, rather than work alongside a copywriter without a working knowledge of Photoshop.

As a copywriter, I may have visual ideas for POP displays in my head, but unfortunately I can't illustrate them as credible ruffs. A design brief will never capture the vividness of my original idea, so somewhere along the line my idea becomes diluted. Consequently, my designer and I often find it hard to work on POP displays together. I know from colleagues that this happens quite a lot.

So why don't you write the thing, as well as design it? You'll be offering a unique and in-demand service to marketing departments.

As with most POP display briefs, you don't need to write much copy, so you don't need to be a master of the written word. Just learn the basics of copywriting.


BULLET- Direct selling promotional material has one objective: to sell. Making the piece look attractive, although connected, is a secondary goal.
BULLET- You need to think about the customer and the message in the copy before you sit down to conceptualize your design.
BULLET - You need to improve your knowledge of marketing and copywriting to improve your publicity design.
BULLET - A good copywriting manual will give you an overview of marketing practice, so you know what your clients want, and what your publicity designs should achieve.

Shawn Crowley
      Shaun Crowley, www.copywriting-designers.com/


100 Copywriting Tips for Designers and Other Freelance ArtistsShaun Crowley has worked as a freelance copywriter, marketing consultant, and communications manager for a major UK publishing company. His new book 100 Copywriting Tips for Designers and Other Freelance Artists is available for download at www.copywriting-designers.com/

Download: How to make your copy easy to read
      Copywriters have their own preferred ways of drafting out their copy. This chapter from Shaun's book provides tips help you to simplify your copy so it can be scanned easily by a casual reader, and so you can improve the fluency of your copy so it is easier to read. Chapter 12 PDF

Copyright ©2006 Shaun Crowley This is reprinted here with permission and kudos to Shaun Crowley for contributing some of is extensive knowledge for DTG readers!

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