How to Create Invoices That Encourage On-Time Payments

Subtle cues in the design and phrasing of common forms (even your business logo) can help you make more money.

Learning how to put subtle cues into the design and phrasing of common forms and even your business logo can help you make more money. Let’s start with something as simple as an invoice, and our first subliminal message – trust.


Communicate Trust with Color Psychology

Have you ever wondered why so many businesses use a blue and green color scheme? Blue and green are obviously pleasing colors without any clear affiliation, but there are also other layers to these choices – trust and messaging.

If you want to get paid on time, then consider designing invoices to reflect these goals subliminally. As the Internet has grown in commercial use, a group of people called user experience professionals have done research on how to design websites to better learning, clarity and comprehension. As part of that research they’ve also looked at the colors we use to transmit information and how that can impact how that information is received.

Through this research, user experience professionals have been able to determine that some colors convey trust, and success while others have more negative connotations. In this framework, blue is regularly reported by focus groups as the trustworthiest color.

Consider your own business branding, what colors do you use? The founder of Hertz rental cars has said that he chose their trademark black and yellow, not because they were the prettiest but because they were jarring together and more likely to get noticed.  Other modes of transportation – school buses and taxi’s, use yellow and black as well.

When it comes to your company invoice, what messages do you want to convey? If you’re trying to get paid quickly, and paid well, you may want to use blue lines instead of black to mark off the sections of your invoice.

You can also use a dark blue instead of black for the text. This tells your customer that you are trustworthy, and people tend to prioritize people they trust first with their business. Another color to consider using is green. If you put the total amount due in green, you’re subtly conveying to the reader the literal color of money. It reminds people that money goes with this piece of paper, and reinforces action.

Other colors including orange and yellow convey success and dynamism. I’m not suggesting you turn your professional invoices into a technicolor rainbow, but using one or two of these colors in combination can convey certain messages without your saying anything. Beyond an individual invoice, using this technique throughout your branding can reinforce your message.


Use Correct Invoicing Language

The language you use in your invoice is also important.

A subtle urgency, along with a sense of completeness should be conveyed throughout your communications with clients.  Simply saying “X amount is due on…” doesn’t push people to act. If you bill slightly ahead of the due date, consider this rephrasing – “Thank you for your business, the amount of “X” is due on your account.”

You can also list the due date, but leave it to the end, by the total, and include “no later than X,” instead. This simultaneously reminds people that the service has already, or is being rendered and so they need to close the transaction and pay.

You’ve also thanked them up front, which keeps the document cordial and professional while also reinforcing that the transaction is almost complete. Think about when you dine out and the server brings by the check.  Notice how they say “thank you,” when they put it down? It adds a little bit of extra speed to the end of a dinner so they can turn the table over. Not to mention, adding a thank you to your invoice statistically increases your chances of getting paid.


Lastly, Encourage Repeat Business

Finally, when you close any document, like an invoice, invite the customer back. Including phrases like “looking forward to working with you again soon,” or “let us know how we can assist you in the future,” even a simple “keep us in mind,” does just that.

QuikTrip, a convenience store chain in the Midwest does that when people pay for their gas. The person behind the counter says, “see you later,” or “see you again soon.” It’s a subtle cue that keeps people tied in with that business. Bringing in little messages like this can cut down the time people take responding to your invoice and also keep you high on their priority list for repeat business.


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