Final Proof Checklist

Even for a small project, such as a postcard, the difference between good and great is in the details. Last month I received a postcard promotion from a small arts organization in my town. They had gone to the expense of buying a mailing list, and I was a good potential customer as I do buy tickets to theater and music events. The postcard was promoting two different productions. However, in the 30 seconds that I scanned the postcard, I noticed a glaring error. The dates for the production were different each side of the postcard. I could infer what the correct dates might be, but without going to their website, it wasn’t clear when each performance would be taking place.

You only have a few seconds to engage a customer on a direct mail piece, so every piece of information has to be accurate and focused. The sad result is that all the money they spent on the right mailing list, nice graphic design, glossy printing and postage was wasted by not taking an extra 10 minutes for a detail check on the final proof. Rather than dumping the postcard in the recycle bin, I saved it, thinking that perhaps for their next project, I will offer editorial services in lieu of the ticket price.

Here’s what to look for on a final proof detail check:

  • phone number – actually dial the number to see if it is correct
  • website – actually type in the URL to see if it goes to an active page
  • dates – recheck them against an independent calendar to make sure they are accurate and that they represent the correct day of the week
  • any other detail identifiers – take the time to recheck accuracy

The few minutes that you spend on a final proof detail check can make the difference between a customer who engages and a frustrated or confused customer. Details matter.

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