How to design direct mail so nobody opens it

Direct mail is still one of the more popular and successful methods of marketing for many companies. It puts your product or service in the hands of consumers where, hopefully, they read it and keep it on the kitchen table for a while—increasing the chance that the consumer acts on it.

With so much competition in the consumer’s mailbox, you have to design the piece for clear readability and quick communication of your message. Tell the reader too much and you risk them not reading the entire piece. Don’t tell them enough and they lose interest and toss it in the bin.

Rather than go into all the best practices of designing direct mail, I thought I would share my thoughts on a direct mail piece I received recently.

Bad direct mail

Printing absolute page numbers in your Adobe InDesign document

I know. You’re probably thinking “just type the page number in the Print dialog box.” But that only works when your pages are numbered in the default method where page one is actually the first page in the document. This isn’t always the case. Many times, you’ll have a multi-page document where you’ve used the Numbering & Section Options in the Pages panel and the page numbering doesn’t start until (for example) page six—to accommodate a cover page, table of contents and intro pages.

So if page one is actually the sixth page in your Adobe InDesign document, and that’s the page you want to print, you can’t just print page one, because that would actually print the first page of the document—which in this case is the cover page.

Absolute page numbering

To print the specific page that is numbered page one (the sixth page in this example), you have to print the Absolute Page Number. To do this, simply add a + (Plus) symbol to the absolute page number in your document (in this case, 6) as seen in the image above.

Stocksy: A better stock photography resource


Photo by Micky Wiswedel

I’m always on the lookout for stock photography resources, and I tend to bookmark any stock photo site that shows any potential. But let’s be honest, client budgets aren’t what they used to be. Sites like Getty and Masterfile are just too expensive. At the other end, ThinkStock, Shutterstock and iStockPhoto are affordable but have a rather poor selection of images for high-end advertising use; they’re overloaded with cliché images with poor cropping and mediocre subject matter.

Enter Stocksy, a curated royalty free stock photo site run by the photographers themselves. By curated I mean that you can’t simply submit photos for inclusion on the site like you can at other sites. You have to be invited by the photographers that run the site. This ensures high-quality images, not high volume. (more…)

Supplement your OS X Finder with ClawMenu


ClawMenu is one of those apps that you see and just want to give it a try. It offers you a way to supplement the Mac’s Finder with it’s own system for navigating your files and folders.

It’s a bit difficult to explain, but basically it puts an overlay window on top of OS X’s Finder for basic navigation. It offers a shortcuts bar across the top and bottom of the overlay, and offers one-click opening of files and folders.

At $7.99, ClawMenu isn’t going to appeal to everyone, as it’s not really something you “can’t live without.” But it may appeal to some users, and there is a 7-day demo available, so I thought I would share it.

Add a little ambient sound to your day with Relax Melodies

Relax Melodies

Sometimes I just don’t want to listen to music. I just want some nice ambient sound to wash over me while I’m working. I’ve reviewed Elsewhere for the Mac previously, a free app for OS X which lives in your menubar and provides three ambient sounds, plus rain (with an in-app purchase).

Today I point you to two more great apps, both free, that provide ambient sounds (white noise) to OS X.

Relax Melodies brings 48 individual ambient sounds which you can overlay on top of each other to create the perfect background sounds to suit your style. Relax Melodies Seasons offers 33 sounds, including 8 Christmas-specific sounds like bells, fireplace, and popular Christmas tunes.

Relax Melodies Seasons

Both apps offer to add up to 100 sounds or more with an in-app purchase, but the built-in sounds are pretty darn good on their own. Both apps allow you to combine sounds and adjust the volume of those sounds independently. You can also save your favorite settings in both apps, but I prefer to explore new combinations every time I use the apps. And finally, you can set alarms and timers with both apps.

I love both these apps, though the regular Relax Melodies app is probably more than enough for most users. If I have one complaint about either of these apps, it’s that neither offers a way to hide the interface and the Dock icon and work only as a menubar app the way Elsewhere does. Still, both can help you relax during a busy day designing the next great ad, or writing the great American novel!