Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

It’s All About Heart – You Get What You Put Into It

As the last day of January rolls around most of us are already looking towards February, and of course, Valentine’s day. Perhaps most of you think about those you love and celebrating but it made me think about heart. Having heart. Giving from the heart. Does giving from the heart make you think about charitable giving? That’s not a bad thing. If each of us gave to those in need what a wonderful world this would be.

But what I really meant was giving from the heart to your clients. Give them over and above what they are expecting. Try giving them exceptional customer service. I like to give my clients the marketing edge not just provide a graphic design service. It always amazes me when designers don’t realize that they are the marketing expert on a project. Why do you design a piece a specific way? To catch the consumer’s eye. To drive traffic to a website. To get clients. Why do you select the colors that you do when you design a piece? Every artist knows that certain colors elicit specific feelings and emotions. As a designer you’re capturing that and creating a mood or a feeling for the reader.

I study each piece that I design by following up with the client to see what kind of response they’ve had, how they utilized it and what other needs they might have. I believe in giving the whole marketing design package. I give from the heart. I want my clients to love my service, to love my designs and to love working with my company.

It’s all about heart…and loving what I do and knowing how my designs can impact the lives and business fortunes of others.

Debby is a working writer, designer, artist, photographer and guest lecturer in Southern California. If you are interested in hiring her she is available for ghost blogging, strategic marketing planning, graphic and web design, photo shoots and more. You can email her at djohnson@debrongraphics.com

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Business Card Marketing 101

What’s the first piece of collateral material that most businesses get? Their business card of course. But how much thought goes into it?

Your business card is sometimes the very first impression that a client gets of you. You may mail them one, or leave one with a secretary as you try and get an appointment with them. Or, if you’ve made personal contact at a gathering, its the last impression you leave them with as you reach into your jacket pocket, purse or wallet and deposit a card in their hand.

What does your card say about you? Does it reflect your business? Does it stand out or does it deserve to be filed in their circular filing cabinet, also known as the trash can?

When designing a business card there are certain key elements to keep in mind.

  1. Follow the brand of your business. It does no good to establish a brand and not incorporate that into every element of  your collateral material. And if you haven’t established a brand, your business card design is the perfect time to start.
  2. Make sure that the card is legible. Too often people try and put too much information on their business card rendering it practically impossible for the average person to read. Don’t make phone numbers, email addresses, website URL and such too small just to fit them on. They are your lifeline with the client. They need to be able to read them.
  3. That brings us to the old adage, “Less is more”. You’re not trying to give them your whole marketing plan at once. You’re trying to either make them call you or call you back.  Think of your business card as your ‘elevator speech’ in print form. (What’s an elevator speech? If you had 30 seconds with someone in an elevator what would you tell them about your business?)
  4. Does your business card say what your business is? You’d be amazed at how many times that element is left off. A lot of times a business name doesn’t say indicate what the business is. If that’s the case, does your tag line? And if you don’t use a tag line make sure you use some line that says what you do, such as “We fix your credit” or “Plumbing services”.
  5. Avoid humor with your card unless it will really appeal to your target audience. Think about the situations you’ll hand out your card to people. If you’d be embarrassed to hand it to your grandmother then maybe you don’t want to put it on your card. Or, if you really feel the need, get two cards made and only hand the humorous card to those you know will appreciate it. That can be dangerous, however, as you never know who THEY will give it to!
  6. Does the design style of your card reflect your business and who you are? A fun, whimsical card is great and can be really appropriate but not necessarily in a corporate setting. A very corporate card can be wrong if you’re trying to appeal to teen shoppers. Its all about who you are and who you are marketing too.
  7. Are you using both sides of your card? The back side of your card can be an excellent place to do more in-depth marketing, such as showing a list of services available or products you are marketing. It costs justa little more to add content to that side but it can be well worth it.
  8. Print quality. What’s yours like? With so many desktop publishing programs available to the general public, as well as products for printing business cards on, a lot of people feel its ok to just run one off of their home printer. And in a pinch, that can be a great idea. Nothing worse than running out of cards when you really need one. But just like anything else, quality printing speaks volumes about your business. A nice thick, high quality card stock along with professional printing won’t really cost that much in the long run. We know of one company that offers an exceptional deal – 1,000 full colour, UV coated, two-sided business cards – printing and design for only $125.00 (Business Card Special)
  9. Another question to ask yourself is how you are going to use your business card. If you’re going to want to write on one side then you should not get the reverse side UV coated. That will enable you to safely write with pen without it smudging but by UV coating the front you’ll protect the card as well as present a well-polished image.
  10. Be sure to include all of your contact numbers as well as your email address and website URL on your card. You don’t want to have to hand print those things in later as it will be both time consuming and detract from the professional appearance that you’re working so hard to project.

Its well worth it to hire a design professional to create your business card.  A good design professional will be able to offer pointers and ideas to you through the entire design process. And as we’ve stated before, your business card can be your first impression. Let them help you get off on the right foot and on your way to success!

The Marriage of Marketing + Design = Success

There are a lot of good graphic and web designers working today in the marketplace. You might even know one or two of them. But what makes a good designer great?

That takes a special breed of designer! 

And it requires the marriage of marketing and design. A great design professional will incorporate the best marketing techniques available. They know what works – they see it every day. And they probably collect examples of great marketing collateral that they have seen for reference.

An effective marketing design professional will emerse themselves into your business. They may not know pest control when they land the assignment but they will understand it before begin the actual design process.

Being a marketing design professional takes a lot of hard work and dedication. If you’re shopping for one be sure to ask a few simple questions:

  • Can I see your portfolio. Do they do the same thing all the time? Does it look the same? (You can view my portfolio at www.debrongraphics.com and www.debbyjohnson.com)
  • What collateral material will they do for you? If you go to them saying I need a tri-fold brochure do they ask questions? Do they want to know what you’re going to do with it and how you’re going to use it?
  • Do they suggest alternatives or additional concepts to consider? Now, I don’t mean are they upselling you like a car salesman – no offense to car salesmen – but are they thinking ahead from a business sense.  When I build a website for someone I almost always “qualify” my price by telling them that I stand by my price as given. I may suggest additional elements and/or pages to incorporate but that is not to add to my price. Its because I recognize that they need it to succeed. I’m all about their success!
  • Do they have a good track record? What kinds of projects have they worked on? Are they used to working on large projects or do they focus more on smaller projects? I know that I love working the full spectrum. I’ve done plenty of small “mom and pop” projects, start-up companies, which are really fulfilling to watch succeed and commercial projects with values up to $129 million dollars. (Honestly, that’s almost too many zeros for most of us to comprehend!)
  • Are they excited about your project? Do they ask intelligent questions. Are they engaged? If they aren’t engaged now they probably never will be once the actual rolling up the sleeves, down and dirty work begins.
  • Do they understand marketing? You don’t want someone who spouts concepts but has never used them. Do they know what they are doing?
  • Do they tell you to cross market and give you ideas about how to do that? Anyone who tells you that you only need to market one way doesn’t know marketing. And if you meet a web designer who tells you “If you build it they will come” RUN as fast as you can in the opposite direction. There’s a lot more to a success website than just building it.
  • Do they know how to incorporate, or marry, successful design with marketing expertise? Again, look at their portfolio and really analyze their work. (You can view my portfolio at www.debrongraphics.com and www.debbyjohnson.com) Do they show cross-marketing there? Does the design make sense from a marketing standpoint or is just meant to look good? Does it deliver a message? Is the message received? And what’s your call to action? If you can’t see all of that then its not working.

Taking it up a notch and combining all of these elements is what GREAT marketing design is all about.

How to Find a Good Graphic and Web Design Professional

Open any phonebook or do a search online and you’ll find more graphic designers than you will need in 10 lifetimes. With the proliferation of desktop publishing software more and more people are billing themselves as graphic designers.

And if you’re talking web designers? Well, have a conversation with about 10 people about web design and invariably several will mention that they can build a site, or their brother, uncle, nephew or niece is a web designer.  I have to admit I’ve gotten a lot of business that way! Once they realize that their relative/neighbor/friend doesn’t have a clue what they are really doing they are happy to hire a professional!

So what do you do when you need graphic and web design work done? Start by looking at the professional’s portfolio. Do they have good solid work? Do they offer only template work with no regard for what their client needs? How long have they been working in the field? Does everything look vaguely familiar, like it might have been ‘borrowed’ from other designs in the marketplace? Does their work reflect different styles or does it all look the same?

Next you’ll want to talk to the designer about your project. Do they ask intelligent questions about your business? Do they know your business? They don’t have to have ever done work for anyone in your line of work before to know how to create effective marketing collatoral for you, but a thirst for knowledge to understand your business is a good sign as it relates to the marriage between marketing and design, which we’ll talk another time.

And as you talk to them you’ll want to ask yourself one really important question – do they care about my success or are they just trying to make money? I find a designer who is enthusiastic and loves their job (its not really a job its a passion when they truly love it – its like getting paid to play!) and is focused on your success can be a silent partner in your business. Your success should be their primary goal. As I tell all of my clients, “If you don’t succeed, I don’t succeed. If it doesn’t work for you – its not working for me.”

Why is that? Because a happy successful client will be a client for life and tell others. An unhappy client, well….they will tell others alright but I’ll wish they hadn’t! There’s something really nice about knowing that you helped someone else build their dream.

Everytime you give, you get back tenfold. And that’s priceless!

Next time we’ll talk about the marriage between marketing and design and how a marketing design professional can take your business or project over the top!