Designing To Sell

A few weeks ago, a local real estate agent asked us to help him design a two page advertising marketing piece, which would appear in an upcoming magazine publication here on Oahu.

While the Publication had originally offered and actually did produce an ad design for him, it ultimately failed to meet his expectations, which is where I came in.

So here’s a look at the proposed ad that was initially sent to him (Note: While the layout is the same, we’ve changed some of the content, as I have not been given permission to use the original design).



Without getting into everything that’s wrong with this design, we do want to quickly highlight what we see as its biggest problem; which is its “Compositional Flow,”  or the way your “eye” is led through the design. Looking quickly at the piece, you’re eyes (aka focus) will probably be drawn to either:

  • The Agent’s Photo
  • The Black Bar in the upper right of the page, containing the Agent’s name, website and company logo.

After reading the Headline, which in this case is the Agent’s name and website, the next logical element or piece of information, would be the CTA or Call To Action, which (to the designer’s credit) does appear next.

The problem is that the weight of the CTA’s font is a bit too light in comparison with the other fonts that are in the design. This means, that instead of your eye moving naturally down the page like it should, it will instead be distracted and drawn to, the more prominent design elements, which in this case, would be either:

  • The agent’s picture, or
  • The bold black copy text directly below it

Having now taken about 2-3 seconds, coupled with the fact that there’s nothing that really draws your focus back up to the top of the page, in most cases, you’ll probably stop reading and totally miss the CTA, which is really the most important part of the ad.

So with that being said, here is a look at one of the preliminary ad comps that I submitted to the agent (Again, the design has been altered for the purposes of this email).


Once again focussing on the design’s composition flow; at first glance, your eye should immediately be drawn to either:
  • The Main Image, which subtly leads your eye down the page (from left to right) along the “leading (coast) line”, to a short headline, followed by the CTA. Or…
  • The Agent’s Photo, which would also lead you (from left to right) to her contact info, and then the CTA, which in both cases, is ultimately the most valuable part of the ad.
And while not as bold and graphic heavy as it’s predecessor, this version:
  • Strips away the excess information and content,
  • Focussing directly on the Ad’s message and CTA, which is
  • Reinforced by a clear and direct compositional design flow

This not only creates a much cleaner and effective design/message, but also reinforces idea of luxury real estate services in Hawaii.

In short, when the time comes for you to create an effective marketing piece that sells, always remember to:

  1. Create a compelling Headline and Call to Action that speaks directly to your Audience and
  2. Pay close attention to the Compositional Flow, using it Guide and Direct Them To Action.”
Have questions or need help creating a marketing piece that sells? Contact us to schedule a complimentary planning session for your business today!  – jz