This guide is applies to anyone who is thinking about creating promotional material for their company that leads to some sort of action from your customers. You can use this basic guide if you are a one-person shop, if you are a promotional supervisor of a large organization, or anyone in between.

Step 1 – Promotion Purpose

Each promotion has to have a purpose. The purpose of the piece is the most important reason or reasons for preparing it, for example:

  • Use (“walk through”) during sales calls
  • Distribute at conventions
  • Mail for leads and/or

Make an absolute limit of three.

Step 2 – Sources

You must determine who will provide the information needed to write and design the promotion. You should also know availability of these people as there may be deadline issues down the line. And always try to get your hands on the source file because you never know when you will need to edit the creative in the future.

Step 3 – Check and approve

Establish a clear chain of responsibility. Everyone involved have to know who is in charge of accuracy of information about the product, legal clearance, editorial clearance (spelling, grammar, the house style), and sales input. Determine who will:

  • Edit
  • Write
  • Review
  • Have final approval of the project.

In a perfect world assign a different person to perform each task. Only one person can have final approval!

Step 4 – Concepts and presentations

Depending on how you and your organization work, you may go through a series of concept presentations or go directly to final copy and layout. In either case, put the materials through the following steps, whether they be taken mentally while talking to yourself or informal presentations to others:


Organize all your information in the order of importance to the specific audience that will see the printed piece. After it is organized, you can decide how much of the information will actually be used and the style in which it is to be presented.


Decide which points are to be stressed and which is the most important point of all. Make the latter into your headline.


Decide on photographs and other illustrations: how many there will be, what kind they should be, and where to get them.


Determine what action you want the reader to perform. Based on that action make an appropriate call-to-action with reasons listed. This is the most frequently understated element in promotional literature. As advertisers, we tell the recipient everything, except why we want them to read the material.


Policing is neither proofreading nor editing, but a final check against #1, your stated purpose in producing the promotional piece. That’s why we put that purpose into writing. It’s very easy to get so carried away with our creativity, that we forget what we set out to do.

Once you developed the basic concept, you should produce a preliminary drafts and possible designs. In organizations with several layers of management, you will present these options to management for comments or approval.

Some organizations require detailed revisions for draft copy and designs, as some managers can’t visualize promotional materials until they see them in quite finished form. During my years as an advertising account executive, I’d reminded my clients—as gently as I knew how—that they were paying for all the changes they order. As employees reporting to management, you must—equally gently—give notice of impending deadlines.