ARRHH! How Can I Work With These Creative Graphic Designers? – Guest Post

Some of you might recognize Wes’ name. He’s a regular commenter on this blog, and some of his articles are on topics that are pretty cool to comment on as well. I don’t take a lot of guest articles on this blog, but he’s earned his way here and thus I’m pleased to offer him some time here. I’m even allowing the Australian spelling of words instead of changing them to the American version. 🙂 Please check out his blog as well.

It is not easy to start or run a business. You may have a long list of suppliers and customers you need to build relationships with. Among the people you will inevitably need to work with when starting a business is graphic designers. How on earth can you work with these creative, arty-farty types.

Your experience with graphic designers does not need to be as harrowing as you may think. In fact, not all graphic designers are ‘arty-farty’. However, I do understand the perception out there and have a few suggestions to make it easier and more enjoyable to deal with graphic designers. These include:

Create a rock-solid vision

Before approaching or hiring a graphic designer, it is best if you are clear in your own mind what your intended outcome is for any given project. It is a colossal waste of time to kick-off a graphic design project then change your mind when it’s almost complete. This can be quite costly as graphic designers will charge for modifications and authors corrections. I’m not suggesting you need to have a clear vision for the actual design or the look and feel but you need to be rock-solid in what your intended result is.

Communicate your vision clearly

Knowing exactly what you want and being able to convey this to your graphic designer can be difficult. It will help to write the vision down so you can communicate the brief clearly. It’s great to talk through the brief so it can be discussed however this can cause problems for graphic designers if that’s all you give them. It can be difficult determining what is clear direction and what is a passing thought or idea if you don’t write it down.
To make sure there is no communication gap, give your graphic designer samples of designs you like and dislike. This is a sure-fire way of speeding up the design process and being clear about what you are wanting. It can be difficult to describe in words what you are looking for visually. For example, if a colour was important to you, provide colour swatches or samples so you can communicate precisely what you are looking for.
If there are certain logos, graphics or images you want to be included in your project, prepare them before meeting with your graphic designer. This will save you both time and make the briefing easier.

Knowing your budget

You should know your budget limitations before starting a graphic design project. You may need to have an initial discussion with your graphic designer to get an idea of costings before you define your budget. If your graphic designers understand your budget restraints, they may be able to make recommendations so you get the best bang for your buck. For example if you wanted to produce a flyer that included photography, your graphic designer could suggest stock photography. Stock photography could save you quite a bit of money so you could then afford to print more flyers with the same budget. If you are not transparent and upfront with your graphic designer, you may miss these kind of opportunities.

Knowing your time-frame

This boils down to being clear in the communication process even during the primary stages of your project. Be honest, if it’s needed in a weeks time, don’t say you only have three days to give yourself ‘breathing room’. Your graphic designer may not be able to invest the time and energy into your short time frame that he/she would have with a little more time. If the deadline is critical, be really clear about that and trust your graphic designer to meet the deadline.

With the pace of business these days, we always tend to want things yesterday. For this reason we want our projects to be worked on immediately however, if this is going to impact on the quality of work being produced maybe you should reconsider your time-frame.


Wes Towers invites you to learn more about marketing, branding, graphic design and web design and how they can help in your business. Check out www.omnificdesign.com.au for more resources and free ebooks.

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Marketing Or Advertising Your Business

Yesterday I gave a presentation on the above topic to a consultant’s group I belong to, The Professional Consultant’s Association of Central New York. I’m also on the board, write the monthly newsletter, and I’m the webmaster of their website.

Anyway, it was interesting talking to these folks, most of whom are older than I am (scary since I’m 50), and though I got through it all, it seems they all got hung up initially on social media and just what its purpose was. One guy kept asking the question “did you get any business out of it”, to which I could answer to each one “yes”. He didn’t ask if I got a lot of business out of it, but he was missing the point.

The idea of doing things online isn’t always to immediately get a return on your investment (ROI). Yeah, that would be pleasurable, but the truth is that unless you’re already well known, or fill a need that the market has nowhere else to turn to, it will take some time before you really start making money. Sometimes it takes years, but I digress.

The basic thing about marketing a small business as opposed to a large business is that you probably don’t have a budget set for advertising. Oh yeah, let’s get the definitions of the two terms out of the way, just to be clear. Marketing is planning for how you want others to learn about your business and products. Advertising is money spent on producing materials to help you market your business and products.

Small businesses usually start out doing the same thing because it’s the only thing we know. We buy a lot of business cards, which isn’t so bad except often we haven’t fully defined ourselves before we buy the first batch. We either buy or make brochures, which means we spend a lot of money buying supplies or paying someone else to design and copy these suckers. We buy a lot of paper and envelopes to attack things that way. And we try to make endless calls (well, those who have the mettle to do it; I don’t) trying to talk to people who won’t return phone calls. It’s a tough life sometimes.

What we all eventually find out is that, through some kind of networking, we finally have a chance to make some money and do some business with others. It can be a long struggle for some of us, whereas others find success pretty quickly. There is no one way that it happens for everyone.

It’s the same with marketing online. We have read some of the stories of marketers who seemed to hit the ground running into success with internet marketing, and that’s good for those folks. But that’s not the norm. Even Darren Rowse didn’t make money initially, and it probably took him a couple of years to really ramp up his empire, so to speak. And here’s the next part; almost none of these guys continued making money the way they started out making money.

Don’t believe me? Joel Comm started out making money through Adsense; he’s moved on from there. So has Darren Rowse, who actually makes his money through many other services rather than just blogging. Lynn Terry and David Risley make most of their money in other ways than blogging, and John Chow has always said he makes more money from other sources than just blogging. Everyone has to be ready to diversify in some fashion to keep making money; you can only prime this particular pump so many times before the effect wears off. Think about 10 big name internet marketers from 6 years ago, then think of how many of them you still see on a regular basis, unless you’ve stayed on their mailing list forever. If you need to, check out Gurudaq, which I wrote about back in October 2008.

Enough of that. I figure that some might be interested in my outline for the presentation, and at the risk of someone stealing it, well, I really don’t care this time around, although it seems some of my content has been stolen by a site calling itself Lua Cheia (they stole an entire article from my business blog; I wrote them and they said it’s a version of Digg & Stumble Upon, only I got no attribution; here’s the link to it if you want to see it, but I’m not making it an active link: http://luacheia.soup.io/post/44468305/When-Protecting-Your-Reputation-Isn-t-Worth). Anyway, here’s the outline; enjoy, and do NOT ask me where I got the statistics from, as I just took the first stat I found on each of these from wherever I could find it.

Traditional Marketing Ideas

1. Mail
     A. Letters
     B. Flyers
     C. Postcards

2. Printed Materials
     A. Flyers
     B. Brochures
     C. Business Cards

3. Networking
     A. Join Groups
     B. Get On Committees
     C. Work on getting people to know you

4. Hire someone to market you
     A. Agency
     B. Sales people

5. Phone calls

6. Media
     A. Magazines/Newspaper
     B. Radio
     C. Television

New Ways Of Marketing

1. Email

2. Websites

3. Blogs

4. Social Networking

5. Speaking/presenting

Costs of Advertising

1. Printed materials can cost a lot of money

2. Cost of postage

3. Costs of joining groups

4. Costs of labor in hiring others

5. Websites can be expensive to create, but are easy to change

6. Blogs are inexpensive to create and maintain, but still need to “advertise” in another way

7. Social media is free, but can be time consuming

8. Email is free, but some people don’t respond well to it

Effectiveness/ROI

1. Mailings only convert at an average of around 1%, and only if you submit in high volume

2. Business cards only convert at an average of around 2%, but once again, volume drives the figures

3. Websites have a 2.5% conversion rate, based on high traffic

4. Blogs can help conversion rates go up by 3% if you have a niche market

5. Email converts at less than 1% for people you don’t know, around 25% for people you do know

6. Phone calls convert around 2 to 3% for product based companies, less for service based companies

7. Speaking engagements convert around 1% initially, but can increase to 5% over time for some

8. Networking converts at around 1% short term, but can increase to 5% over time for some

9. Advertising on media depends on product & location; products always do better than services

10.No figures on social networking yet, but people have gotten business from it

What Personally Affects How / What We Do

1. Comfort level

2. Finances
     A. What can we afford to spend on stuff
     B. How much in need are we of making money “now”

3. Control

4. Knowing our market too well / too little

5. Trying too hard / giving up

Big Question – What do you do in marketing/advertising & how does it work for you? Are you missing ways that might be beneficial to you long term?

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