design tips

Design tips for your next poster, flyer, or postcard

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Besides providing basic information, a great poster, flyer, or postcard sells a benefit and triggers a buying action. These design tips can help you streamline the process and serve as a checklist for the information to include.

For as long as musicians have been promoting gigs and record releases, posters, flyers, and postcards have served as incredibly useful tools for getting the word out. They can be handed out face-to-face to fans close to the venues hosting live shows, hung on walls and telephone poles, and mailed directly to fans and the press.

Besides providing basic information (like the date, time, and place of an event), a great poster, flyer, or postcard sells a benefit to the intended reader and triggers a buying action, such as purchasing your CD or coming to a record release performance. These design tips cover the core essentials, can help you streamline the process, and serve as a checklist for the information to include.

Hit ’em with the headline

Create a short phrase at the top of the flyer or postcard that will grab the attention of your target audience. Consider using engaging words (like “introducing,” “new,” “exclusive,” and “free”) and crafting humorous or shocking questions or commands, like “Get Sloppy And Shake Your Grass!” for your Hawaiian BBQ gig. Just remember, the headline is the most important and most-read part of any flyer or postcard, so work to make it really good and feature it prominently in your design. As advertising legend David Ogilvy once said, “If the headline doesn’t grab the reader, chances are they will not read anything else.”

Continue with the subhead

Add a subhead that completes your headline and gets the interest of your target audience. For instance, below our clever headline, “Get Sloppy And Shake Your Grass!” you might write, “Free Hawaiian-themed BBQ Bash with DJ Doe this July 4th.” Keep this text slightly smaller than the headline to establish the hierarchy of importance of the information. If everything is the same size and bold, nothing stands out.

Write punchy body copy

Provide benefits that help your target audience make a decision about what you are offering. For example, tell the audience about the feel-good musical style of DJ Doe, the swimsuit contest with special prizes, the large pools and Jacuzzis on the premises, the complementary Hawaiian leis and grass skirts, and the excellent BBQ and drink specials. Present this information midway down the flyer or postcard (in the body or heart) and consider using smaller type size, bullet points, and short sentences.

Get graphic

Include an attractive, high-resolution graphic that ties in nicely with the headline. You can use graphics anywhere in the design, but for a really cool effect, use them for your backgrounds with your text laid out on top (just be sure that your text is still readable). Use your own high resolution images (such as the photos you get done with a professional photographer) or search through hundreds of free stock photos on sites such as NASA, StockSnap, and many others.

Create a call to action

Write a call to action at the bottom of your design to get your reader to take the next step. For instance, you might write, “To get leied this July 4th, RSVP at”

Include the location, date, and time

Include important dates, addresses, phone numbers, websites, and start times. Provide this information in small type somewhere at the bottom of the flyer or card. If the date is very significant, such as a holiday, include the type at the top.

Add logos

Include your logo – and the logos of any sponsors that may be involved – anywhere on your flyer or postcard. Just be sure to keep your design clean and uncluttered.

Use a source code

A source code allows you to monitor the effectiveness of your promotion and medium, and helps you adjust this or future promotion campaigns accordingly. For example, you might write, “Use the promo code BEACH BUM at the door to claim a free prize.” If you use a source code or promo code, be sure you are collecting, measuring, and using the information!

Go pro

Use a professional design program to create your designs or engage the services of one of your talented fans with graphic arts skills to help get the job done. If you can spring for it, hire a professional designer to create several basic templates that you can use throughout the year.

When designing…

Be sure to use no more than three colors and typefaces per design and leave a lot of blank space (or negative space). Make sure your text is easy to read and that you leave enough room around the edges of your design to ensure nothing is cut off in the printing process.

Use a trustworthy printer

Disc Makers specializes in printed promo materials, and you can rely on other online or local vendors to print your flyers and postcards. Just make sure to proof everything (including your dates and times) before going to print and use a company that will make your design look good on paper.

music musiness basicsThe contents of this post are © 2017 by Bobby Borg. Bobby is the author of Music Marketing For The DIY Musician, Business Basics For Musicians, and The Five Star Music Makeover (all published by Hal Leonard Books). Get these books at any fine online store in both physical or digital format. Contact Bobby at NOTICE: Any use or reprint of this article must clearly include all copyright notices, author’s name, and link to

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