I’m getting old and as I approach my next birthday, I’m noticing a few changes…

  • I definitely feel more of a draft when I don’t wear a hat on cold winter’s day.
  • Waking up in the morning is typically accompanied by more creakiness than I remember.
  • And when did everything start being printed so small?

If you’re under 40 and smirking as you read these words, you’ll join the club soon.  For the rest of us, I want to use this high impact copywriting article to remind you of a critically important fact…

If your advertising, marketing promotions and content is physically difficult to read, it won’t get read!

Pick up any magazine and try to read the advertisements.  The vast majority use a font that’s so small and difficult to read, most people skip it.

When one of your readers picks up one of your sales letters, postcards, newsletters or visits your web site, are you making it easy for them to read your text or difficult?

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The recent redesign of the GKIC No B.S. Marketing Letter is a classic example of making content hard to read.  I’ve heard from many people, including myself, who find their body font choice way too small and way too hard to read and knowing a good chunk of their subscribers are over 40, this is a mistake.

I recently purchased a book on bourbon only to realize after getting it home, the print layout is so small, I could barely read it.

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The above is a single-page scan of the book, which is much taller than it is wide and besides the odd layout of a narrow column page, the font is excruciatingly small.

Knowing most bourbon aficionados are probably 40+, I have no idea why the publisher thought it was a good idea to use this layout and I can personally attest to the frustration I felt trying to read an otherwise excellent book.  I contacted the author and he told me he has already heard from his readers about this challenge.

Think about this for a moment.  I purchased this book because I wanted it and the typeface choice almost forced me to return it because it was so hard to read.

What if this was an unsolicited direct mailing or an ad in a magazine?  Do you think I would fight to read it?

Your marketing doesn’t have the same luxury as the book I sought out and purchased and you must do everything in your power to get your marketing read.  Never, ever assume readership (even if it’s something they’ve asked for or purchased).  Always consider the age of your target recipient and use a font size appropriate for that person.

Your job, when you craft high impact copywriting, is to give your marketing pieces EVERY chance of being read and acted on.  Small type and incorrect font choices are your enemy!

In this day and age of staring at smart phones and computer screens all day, a large percentage of the population need some type of vision correction and according to one recent study, this amounts to over 143 million U.S. adults requiring prescription eyewear.

If you are over 40 years of age, you’ve probably noticed changes in your own vision. Difficulty seeing clearly for reading and close work is among the most common problems adults develop between ages 41 to 60. This normal aging change in the eye’s focusing ability, called presbyopia, will continue to progress over time and is an unfortunate fact of life for many of us.

It’s a certain fact a large part of your target market has challenges with farsightedness (e.g. difficulty reading a book) and color blindness, especially if you serve an older demographic. While it’s easy to gloss over this, if you’re serious about response it would be a mistake.

I imagine you consider yourself a student of high impact copywriting and direct marketing (otherwise you would not be reading these very words), but how often do you think about the readability of your marketing?  Not in the context of the words you write, but instead focused on the physical appearance of your marketing?

Trust me.  If you’re not conscientiously keeping your intended reader in mind as you design and lay out your marketing letters, postcards, advertisements, brochures, books, coupons, web sites and emails, you’re not getting the best results because a certain segment of your readers cannot comfortably read your marketing pieces.

“C’mon, are you telling me, Mike, if I simply use the wrong font, I could be adversely affecting my results?”

The simple answer is YES.

If a certain percentage of your market has difficulty reading your materials, the likelihood of them actually reading and responding goes way down.  If fixing these readability issues is easy, why would you take the chance in the first place?  Here are four quick tips for helping your high impact copywriting to be as readable as possible for all your readers:

    • For printed materials, always use a serif font (e.g. Times New Roman, Georgia, etc.) for main body copy. This is what 99% of printed books use because a serif font is much easier on the eye.  Serif fonts are fonts that have the little feet on each letter, which helps the human eye to see it better.
    • Interestingly, for online body copy, you should use a sans –serif font like Arial or Calibri, since the absence of the little feet on a computer screen makes these types of fonts easier to read online.
    •  Be very, very careful of placing any important text on a dark background (reverse type).  You see this all the time in magazines and it’s a huge mistake.
    • Always consider the age of your target audience and use a font size appropriate to their eyes.  I tend to lean on the larger versus smaller side of things when crafting my own high impact copywriting and marketing.

What are your thoughts on the “readability” of the marketing you interact with?  Am I over-emphasizing something that doesn’t have a huge impact in the bigger picture or what?  I would love to have you weigh in on this fascinating (at least I think so) aspect of marketing response.  Leave your comments below!

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