OK – so you have an event of some kind coming up and you want to promote it. Maybe it is a Gospel Meeting, or a Vacation Bible School, or a special sermon series and you want to create a flyer or brochure that you can hand out to promote it. Unfortunately, this task usually falls to the church secretary who opens Microsoft Publisher, finds the flyer she did last year for the same event, changes the date, the title, searches for a new clipart (from the $29 1,000,000 piece clipart collection CD purchased in 1990), prints it out, runs it through the Xerox machine and voila! Instant promo piece ready for distribution – right? But is this really the look you want to put out in the community? Does this flyer or brochure really attract people to come to the event or does it look outdated and out of touch?
Now, this post isn’t meant to insult any church secretaries out there, but the truth is they probably haven’t been trained to do this type of work to begin with. So how do you create better print materials for the church? Here are six tips that may help.
Tip #1: Get Rid of Microsoft Publisher
I know that I will get emails about being a MAC guy, but that is not why I don’t like MS Publisher. The biggest problem with Publisher is the it doesn’t play nice with any other software. The files created by Publisher are completely proprietary. You cannot convert them or open them in any other programs. Now I know you can try to convert them to MS Word, but if you have ever really tried that with anything beyond the most basic layout you know that it just doesn’t work. I will post more on other software options soon, but Publisher creates a lot of issues.
Tip #2: Don’t Use Prebuilt Templates
This is another reason to drop Publisher. The templates that are built in to the program for the most part look outdated and amateur. You need to learn how to create these materials from scratch when at all possible. The problem with templates is that there are only a few that people really like and everyone uses them. The result is everyone’s material looks the same – not a good option. This is really another reason to drop Publisher. The temptation is too great to just open an old file (probably built from a template), revise it and send it out again. Learn the basics of a good layout and keep things fresh.
Tip #3: Get Rid of Your Clipart Library
The age of clipart is over! It served it function 20 years ago (although it was still poor communication back then). Now it just looks outdated and cheap. I have talked about online stock photo sources before and you need to learn to use up to date visuals in your flyers and print material. Just say no to clipart.
Tip #4: Get Some Professional Help
This is really the best tip of the lot. Find members in your congregation that have graphic design training and talent. The graphic design field is exploding and there are people everywhere that have various levels of experience. Ask for volunteers from the congregation who know what they are doing. Get more people involved and using their talents for the Lord.
If you don’t have anyone in your congregation, contact the graphic design department of the local community college or trade school. Graphic design students are always looking for “real world” design projects to add to their portfolios and many will be eager to help. This gives them some much needed experience and may even open the door to teach them the Gospel.
Tip #5: Create a Morgue File
There are good examples of flyers, postcards, brochures and other print materials all around us. When you see one in a store or get one in the mail that looks good and communicates well, save it in a file for future reference. Notice the details. What is it that grabbed your attention? Was it some color they used (or didn’t use)? Was it a particular font and size of lettering that you noticed? Was it the visuals, photos or logos that caught your eye? Note those this on a sticky note and put the item in a file for later reference. Then when you need to create a new flyer, pull out your flyer file and look at the examples you have collected for ideas.
Tip #6: Don’t Be Afraid to Use Color
Adding color to a flyer or brochure is vital today and no I don’t mean putting canary yellow paper in the copy machine! Full color communications increase readership by as much as 65%. The problem for the church is that full color printing has always seemed out of our price range. Well, there are a number of full color printing options available today that can be very affordable. We’ll get a list together and dedicate a post on those soon.
Start with some of these basic tips and you’ll see a dramatic increase in the quality of your print materials.
This topic was covered in more detail this week on the MinistryGeek This Week podcast. You can listen to the show here or subscribe to the show through iTunes here. We will continue this conversation on next week’s podcast as well so stay tuned.