How to design a successful direct mail flyer?

How to Design a Successful Direct Mail Flyer – The Ultimate Guide

Direct mail marketing hasn’t lost its charm. It still possesses the magic to enchant customers in numbers.

Unfortunately, not all direct mail is sprinkled with aesthetic and linguistic magic. Some is horribly lacking. Direct mail that actually makes a mark and gets the message across is carefully deliberated and meticulously designed.

Direct mail flyers are a great way to introduce your business and its products and invite people to an event. It’s, actually, a multipurpose, oversize postcard ― which when designed the right way ― can put forth a solid marketing statement.

Amateur designers believe that design alone is the most crucial element in a direct mail piece. Pros, on, the other hand, know there’s more to a flyer or a postcard than just design. A flyer that is visually stunning, but doesn’t effectively convey your marketing message, almost always misses the bulls-eye.

In this guide, we will lay down a methodical step-by-step guide to help you design a direct mail flyer that is visually arresting, typographically alluring ― and most importantly, sells.

Lay the Brickwork for your Direct Mail Flyer

Planning will lay a solid foundation for your design. It will help you make decisions about the actual design on-the-go and save valuable time.

Here’s how you can devise an effective plan.

1.      Think in terms of your Target Audience

If you hastily move on to the designing part without familiarizing yourself with your intended audience, the flyer will turn out an incoherent mess.  The copy on your flyer will depend on the preferences of your target audience.

Which features do they like in a product? Are they middle-aged men or nine-year-olds? Which images will surprisingly rouse them?

Find as much information as you can about them. It will come in handy when you sit down to design.

2.      Make the Goal Crystal Clear

One key step is singling out the objective of your flyer.

What do you hope to achieve from it? Do you want it to sell in the thousands or millions? Are you creating it to spread the word about a new product or announce a limited time offer? What kind of budget are you working with?

Having a set goal in mind will ultimately help you improve the message, and make informed decisions.

3.      Arrange the Copy Effectively

The following elements of a copy make an appearance in almost every flyer.

  • Headline
  • Call-to-action
  • Contact Information and Address
  • Promotional Offers
  • Benefits of the services

Although I don’t believe there’s a predetermined set of rules to organize these elements, there are some pointers you should abide by.

For instance, make sure the headline sits on the iron throne like a prominent monarch. It should never be inconspicuous or timid. Its font should be legible and oversized.

Moreover, the CTA and promotional offer are crucial in giving a bump to your response rates. They need to stand out and should be linguistically simple.

You can tinker with the rest of the details, use your imagination, and see what works best for you.

4.      Lay out a Rough Draft of the Final Design

The last and final step of the ‘thinking brickwork’ is laying out a rough draft of the final design.

Take a piece of paper the size of a flyer and lay down the copy in plain text. See if its placement and size is going to fit well in the actual design. Use dummy images if you have to, and forget about the colors and the images at this point. You can always improve on them later.

What this rough draft will do is make it easy for you to identify flaws on your piece and streamline the design process. You will know what goes where and what size the text will be. Otherwise, you’re going to land on the design like a misinformed sophomore.

After you’re done with laying the brickwork, it’s time to jump on to the designing phase.

Top Creative Tips to Design an Effective Direct Mail Flyer

1.      Use Fonts intelligently

‘Font psychology ‘is a major factor in making or breaking a design. How your readers perceive your text ― does it confuse or entice them? ― will play a significant role.

A heaping mess of different typefaces is ill-advised. Stick to minimalism. One or two types of fonts at most. If your brand has a signature font, use it throughout the flyer.

A variety of different texts only serve to overwhelm and confuse the reader. You don’t want to strain his senses, rather make him feel at ease.

Furthermore, steer clear from illegible fonts, especially highly italicized variations. Sans serif and Times New Roman are the most popular choices because of their erect and upstanding nature.

To spice things up, vary the size of the font, depending on the significance of each copied element. The CTA, headline and other important elements will preferably have larger sized fonts, whereas basic company or product information will have comparatively smaller ones.


How to Design a Successful Direct Mail Flyer - Use fonts wisely

Design by: Owncvrt


2.      Utilize White Space Wisely

The art of appropriately utilizing white space or empty space is a hard one to master.

So what actually is white space? It’s the empty area around your design elements ― images, headline etc. Any blank white or colored area falls in the category of white space.

One of the most important roles of white space is removing clutter and adding an air of sophistication to the flyer. It can be effectively used to calm the nerves of the reader, and prevent the piece from seeming overcrowded and messy.


Print Best %title% Online


3.      Go the Extra Mile when it comes to Imagery

Now here’s where the big guns come out. High-quality imagery is one of your best bets to attract your customers. In this age of digital photography, a cataclysmic upheaval of visual content and its dominance over bland texts has made visually stunning images a vital component of any direct mail piece.

Use images that are relevant, personal and intimate. Images of real-life people using your products and services, not vague animations. This will add an air of credibility to your business, a validation of the services you’re offering. And don’t just insert an image of your products or services. Your images should also convey the benefits and the boons they’re offering.

High-resolution images are in vogue. Gone are the days when pixelated, low-quality images would let you have your way. Make sure the resolution of every image is at least 300 dpi in the image editor, to ensure the final print is smooth and slick. Otherwise, you’re going to send out an outdated and unprofessional representation of your brand.

The background should be extremely simple and straightforward. It shouldn’t be complicated or sketchy. You can choose a single image, pattern, or color. Just don’t choose something that messes up the copy and the overall aesthetics of the design. Otherwise, it will distract the reader from the message of your brand, and destroy the entire purpose of the flyer.

Placing text on top of images is a big NO. By doing this, not only will you make it obtuse to read, but also decrease its visibility.


How to Design a Successful Direct Mail Flyer - Use captivating imagery

Design by: Graphic Criver


4.      Choose a Focal Point and Work on it

Pay extra attention to the focal point or the epicenter of the flyer. A focal point can be anything, from a headline or promotion to an image or text. It should have an allure like an apple hiding hanging outside a witch’s lair ― a strikingly shining, visually alluring attraction.

Choose a focal point you desperately want to make the belle-of-ball, “the showstopper”. And then proceed to adorn it with beautiful colors and typography, so it immediately catches the viewer’s curiosity. A focal point should have a shtick that makes it stand out. Maybe a bolded punchy one-liner or, perhaps a visually stunning image? We’ll leave that up to you.

Some flyers do in fact have multiple focal points. A double-lined border sometimes catches the viewer’s eye and draws him to your intended focal point in the center of the flyer.


Print Best %title% Online

Design by: Mukhlasar Rahman


5.      Choose Colors Wisely

Colors are an emotive powerhouse; they rouse and bewilder, stun and embitter. The power they have over the human psyche is irrefutable. Choose the right colors, consistent with the theme and message of your brand and have your audience respond as a kid responds to sugary treats. The art, in the end, lies in using colors to engage the feelings of readers.

The black color is great for legal companies, because of the solemn nature of their affairs. Creative design companies, on the other hand, can opt for the oranges and the yellows and the reds and other imaginative and uplifting colors. A company that is trying to target the Millenials, the tech-generation of today, can work with cooler colors, like blue and green.

In the end, the choice of colors greatly hinges upon your business and its marketing message.


How to Design a Successful Direct Mail Flyer - Choose colors inteligently

Design By: Exipex Design


6.      Keep it neat and Tidy

No one’s going to look twice at your flyer if it’s a heaping mess of overcrowded design elements. Too much information discourages the reader. It saps his concentration and kills his curiosity.

Don’t make him search for important information. It’s a flyer, not a map for a lost treasure. Display vital information and dump everything else. This will strike a well-needed balance between your visual design elements and text.

And we’ve already talked about the importance of white space. How it can be used effectively to make the entire flyer look roomy. Don’t think of white space as wasted space, but a means to direct the viewer’s gaze to the more important aspects of the design.

The itch to stuff everything on to your flyer is something you have to get rid of.


How to Design a Successful Direct Mail Flyer - keep it neat

Design By: Marium Hira


7.      Highlight the Keywords

Some keywords exclusively catch the interest of the buyer. “Free”, “Guaranteed”, “Limited”, “30% OFF” are words that sell. You could enlarge their fonts, embolden them, and make them prominent in your CTAs.


How to Design a Successful Direct Mail Flyer - highlight keywords

Design By: Dream Studio


8.      Raise it Among the Common Herd

In the case of a direct mail flyer, visibility is of utmost importance.

When your target audience receives the flyer, it should stand out from the rest of the mail. It should be conspicuous and dominating. Like a glittering diamond in the rough.

You will also have to factor in the viewing range of the viewer and scale the visual elements and text accordingly. The reader should be able to view the flyer from afar without squinting.

What you could do is print the flyer and place it at a near point distance of 25 cm and see if it grabs your attention and is easily readable.


Print Best %title% Online

Design By: Anas Khan


9.      Stamp Your Brand Identity

Are you the owner of an established brand? Don’t forget to personalize the flyer. Integrate brand fonts, colors, animations and characteristic messaging to help your audience recognize it’s you.

Placing a big and prominent logo of your brand on the frontispiece of the flyer is one way of doing this.  All of this will help maintain your brand’s identity.


How to Design a Successful Direct Mail Flyer - stamp brand identity


10.  Put a Cherry on top with a Punchy CTA

You’ve catered to every aspect of the design, with extra affection and care. But wait, you’re not done yet. Gather your breath because, without an effective CTA, your flyer is never going to reach the finish line.

CTA is quite simply a marketing concept, which compels audiences to take prompt action. And despite the popular opinion, the use of CTAs isn’t limited to selling products. It can be used to announce openings. “There’s a new literary powerhouse in town, Come knock on our doors today!”

You get what I’m talking about.

Your CTA should not contain any technical language and complex words. Its main purpose is to address your audience in a friendly way. And friends never talk like “Hey Adam, I just got my Playstation 4 version 11.00012…” and another hoopla. That just sounds freaky.


How to Design a Successful Direct Mail Flyer - call to action

Design By: Venngage


Proof Your Direct mail Flyer

1.      Run the Piece by yourself

Now that you’re done with the design, proofread it, over and over again. Search for misspellings, ferret out grammatical errors and make sure that image placement is precisely accurate. And don’t just cater to the design elements.

Also, check to see if the message of your brand is simplistic and consistent throughout the flyer. Trust me, this final proofreading phase will do wonders to fine-tune your flyer and make it a worthy contender for the direct mail piece of the year.

Run some of these questions by you in this proofreading period.

  • Is every design element interconnected with each other?
  • Does the design even make sense?
  • Have you used complex or difficult words, especially jargon, in the copy?
  • Is the main message of your flyer succinct enough?

Finally, the last thing you’re going to do is verify the tracking information ― the address, phone numbers, social media contacts, links to websites and the whole nine yards. No compromises here whatsoever. We don’t want you to lose customers over a minor spelling error.

2.      Ask for a Second opinion

Your opinion is not enough. You need an extra set of eyes to go through the flyer. See how they perceive it.

It would be extremely helpful if this person is a creative designer himself. Tell him to give honest feedback, not just serve you with a bullshit platter of flattery.

You can also ask for feedback, directly from your customers, when they visit your business grounds. Remember, your opinion is bound to be biased. A neutral opinion, from a third party, can open your eyes to a number of flaws and shortcomings.

You can ask the following questions from others to gauge the impact of your design.

  • How does the ad look to you?
  • Does it appeal to you?
  • Are the images looking good?
  • Do you see something that’s complicated or hard to understand?


Don’t make the mistake of seeking perfection. A perfect design is a myth, a castle in the air. It stops you from progressing forward. Practice and devotion, on the other hand, bring you the improvement you deserve.

What you can do is pit different designs against each other, and see which fares better. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but, then again, a successful flyer, demands sweat of the brow.

Consistency in your message is key. Ultimately, all it boils down to is putting forth a cohesive image of your business in a visually and typographically arresting and imaginative way.


Find us on social

Join for Design Tips & Special Discounts

Please enter a number from 10 to 10.
What is 6 + 4 ?
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.