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Focus on Making it Visual!
There's nothing worse than a poster where nothing stands out. THINK VISUALLY, especially since your poster will likely be displayed in places near other posters, so if there's nothing that makes it outstanding it will simply fade into the background.
Keep the words to a minimum so you can have them as large as possible. Also, why not headline with a question or an image that begs further investigation.
Who, What, Where & When
Make sure you include the key information that people need. Who the event is for, what it will be, where it will take place and when it starts. Many students may stop to find out this information or snap a picture of the poster will an iPhone – but if they can't find the information they will quickly find something else to do with that Sunday afternoon!
The brighter your colors or the more contrast you have, the more chance you have of catching the attention of passers by. If you don't have the budget for 100 color posters, why not print using black on a bright colored paper such as neon yellow?
You could have the world's best poster, but if it's not positioned in a place where people are likely to pass by. You would be better off just saving your money! You want your posters in high traffic places, outside student bars, on doors and major walkways, etc. Every campus is different, so give this question some time and think about the top 10 locations for your poster.
There's also no better way to make sure a poster or flyer reaches its destination that giving it to the person directly. So why not use your recruitment intern and some committed alumni to do a dorm storm or flyer the campus. Perhaps you can add a candy to each so students feel more compelled to take it!
There are posters... and there are posters. There are those that make you laugh, make you want to read more and empower you...and there are those that barely even catch your eye.
So what makes the difference?
What Makes a Great Poster?