Why a DIY Design Will Ruin Your Newsletter

by | Jun 14, 2016

You and your team may have a ton of talent and creativity on board – in fact, this may make you confident enough to have your team create your own print newsletter. However, there’s a reason why we don’t pay our dentist to cut our hair: There’s a certain level of expertise that is best achieved by years of training, experience, and practical know-how, such as the ability to create designs that meet publication standards and timelines.

When companies hireNewsletter Pro, they also hire our team of trained and experienced graphic designers. Trusting the design of a newsletter to an office manager who’s handy with Word is as detrimental to a custom newsletter campaign as trusting a hairdresser to one’s oral health. 

Don’t opt for a DIY design – because one of the great pitfalls of DIY design is that it looks worse than everything else in the mail, created by professionals.

One problem with a DIY design is it’s built using popular trends in mind — for example, all red colors in script fonts. The final result is a piece of direct mail disguised as junk. At Newsletter Pro, anything that looks like junk mail just won’t cut it. 

The purpose of customization is to create a direct mail campaign that stands out as a trustworthy extension of your brand that isn’t buried among ads for new cars and pre-approvals from credit card companies (which all go straight to the recycle bin). 

Unfortunately, amateur designers don’t know what professional graphic designers know: Every design is one big mind trick. This is especially true for newsletters. Every newsletter and freestanding insert (FSI) is carefully planned, so images, text, and color all work in tandem to promote ease of use and readership. 

We’ve all seen DIY design disasters – sometimes, it’s enough for us to question a company’s trustworthiness entirely. Bad DIY design often includes:

  • Not enough call-to-actions. Are you sure your customers can tell what you’re offering?  All the words in the world won’t drive people to your website if the offer isn’t clear. 
  • Clip art and/or cheesy stock photos. It’s not a bad thing to use stock photos, but nobody wants to mail something that looks like it took 5 minutes to create. Designers know how to reach your audience through visuals – by making intentional image choices, you can create more professional design. 
  • Lack of hierarchy. Is your message getting lost? If all your text is the same size, or visually in the wrong order, your customers will get confused. In design, there’s a reason certain texts and images should be prioritized over others. 

In addition to playing visual mind games, professional graphic designers know how to make calculated decisions. Images show direction and lead a reader’s eye. Colors are chosen not only to fit a client’s brand, but because they complement one another. Fonts are chosen similarly, so no corner of a Newsletter Pro direct mail piece is too hard to read. Everything is sized and fit to print exactly as it should be.

Our team at Newsletter Pro is highly trained to make direct mail and newsletter campaigns operate at maximum capacity. And every campaign needs a Pro designer for three reasons.

1. Consistency

When it comes to a direct mail campaign, consistency is everything. No matter what, readers must know where a piece of direct mail is coming from just by looking at it. Amateur designs fall short of consistency almost every time, particularly in the form of FSIs.

The result of a DIY design.

FSIs are perfect for sales copy that doesn’t sacrifice the integrity of a newsletter. They include calls to action, upcoming event announcements, and special offers. They’re also highly mobile — carried around in cars, purses, and briefcases for extended periods of time.

So when the time comes for action to be taken, readers must instantly know what company the FSI belongs to, why, and what they — as a client, patient, or consumer — need to do with it. None of that can be accomplished by an inconsistent, DIY design haphazardly thrown together on a Word document and sent in to print as a difficult-to-manage PDF.

 Take the piece above: Pictured above is an example of a DIY design. Not only is there no logo, company name, or phone number on the page, but it’s also lacking balance, with no consistent fonts, colors, or images. That brings us to the second reason you need a Pro graphic designer.

2. Esthetics

Amateur designers decorate, professional designers communicate. While a design may just be pretty to your average do-it-yourselfer, a designer knows that every click of the mouse, every font, every photo placement, and every tagline tells a story. Not a single choice gets made without intent from the designer behind it. Without the intent of that visual communication, it’s easy to end up with a haphazard design. If you’ve ever baked a loaf of bread, you know that the greatest danger is to overwork the dough. Too much kneading, in that instance, can leave you with a loaf that more closely resembles a baseball bat.

professional design

Similarly, in design, it’s far too easy for amateurs to add too many fonts, too many colors, or to try and work too much in and end up with a haphazard design that can be exhausting to the eyes of your clients.

In addition, when you look good, you feel good. So when an amateur design doesn’t look good, readers won’t feel very good about it either. You can’t position yourself as the expert in your industry if your direct mail piece looks like something a high schooler threw together on Microsoft Paint.

Professional designs are a mind trick, and not one that just anyone can pull off. Images lead readers to text. Professional designers make sure that the colors being used are bright enough that they can be seen when printed. No script fonts are too hard on the eyes, and no bold fonts overwhelm the page. Professional designs can visually communicate and build confidence in your brand.

3. Branding

When we speak to a client, one of the first things that comes up is branding. What is your brand all about? This information helps us find ways to communicate their identity and story through their design. 

When brand expectations are consistent and clear, direct mail campaigns come together seamlessly. Any company that persists in DIY design efforts risks putting out a product that struggles to connect with its brand and its target demographic. On the flip side of that, companies that invest in a professional team end up with a product that stands out in all the right ways. Just take a look at this example below. Every font, color, and photo is consistent with the client and their brand.

Professional design
professional newsletter
The Branded Website for Benson Ortho
Benson Orthodontics’ printed newsletter and inserts match their branded website for a consistent patient experience.

Don’t Be a DIY Design Disaster

Newsletter Pro’s graphic designers work tirelessly to make sure every direct mail piece matches its client’s brand. Each brand also speaks to a demographic, and if the visuals are already consistent and aesthetically pleasing, our client’s demographic will be satisfied every time. Plus, Newsletter Pro uses licensed images and fonts that don’t infringe on copyright laws — the kind of thing you don’t want to worry about while you’re trying to run a business.

From start to finish, DIY designs cut corners in marketing and hurt the readability of a direct mail piece. And at Newsletter Pro, everything we do is customized. Our done-for-you process comes with a team of professional graphic designers all trained to make the most of your direct mail campaign. Anything less can damage brands, reputations, and bottom lines.

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  1. Robert

    I’ve let postcard designers that were supposed to be experts at direct mail design my campaign, I’ve hired 5 SEO companies, 3 PPC Google Partners, and a social media expert. Not one was able to get the ROI that I’ve achieved by applying a few principals and doing these marketing activities myself. In many cases, the only person that profits in these deals are those selling me the service.

    • Marketing Department

      Hi, Robert!

      Finding the “secret sauce” for ROI can be a true challenge. Especially when working with contracted companies. The truth is, no one knows you like YOU do. That’s why the first step when working with an outside provider is making sure they truly understand the experience you want to provide for your prospects and clients. Here at The Newsletter Pro, we have a custom on-boarding process for all new clients where we really dig in to branding, message, your audience, and the purpose of a campaign. Then we offer a specialized solution to return the best results. You shouldn’t work with a company who offers anything less, because those who just make a pitch without getting to know you are never going to be able to hit that ROI mark for you. As you pointed out, they are only in it for their own profit.

      Let us know if we can ever change your impression of direct mail providers. We’d be happy to help!

      To your success,


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