Archive for Graphic Design and Marketing

Take a Look at Your (Business) Wardrobe

Take a look in your closet. Most likely it’s full of different types of clothing that coordinate with each other. Shirts, pants, dresses,  shoes and maybe even some jewelry, all meant to complement each other. When we get dressed each day we combine the appropriate pieces that coordinate well and if we’ve done it right, give ourselves a polished, professional look. Whether we are heading into the office, or meeting with a client, it’s important for us to look great and project a certain image. When it’s done right, we feel confident and we are more successful.

It’s the same way with marketing. I’ll bet you have never thought of your business as having a Marketing Wardrobe. But that’s exactly what it is. All the components of your marketing, including your website, your business cards, your social media pages, the postcards or mailers you send out, and even your office space, need to coordinate. It’s great to have a fabulous website, and fabulous full color business cards. But if they aren’t consistent in their design, the message can be lost and leave your business looking sloppy.

Just like building a great clothing wardrobe, it takes time to get your Business Marketing Wardrobe just right. Focus on one piece at a time, and make sure it matches with what you already have. If it doesn’t, change it or get rid of it.

If you have an in house design department, you may already be well on your way to having a great business wardrobe. Most likely the same people have worked on your logo, your business card and brochure design, and your website and social media pages. They are probably already taking the right steps: looking at the other pieces before starting a new marketing project, and making sure that your business is projecting a cohesive and consistent image. It’s like having your own Tommy Hilfiger.

If you don’t have an in house design or marketing department, your business wardrobe may need a little work. Many small businesses decide they need a website, so they hire a web company to develop one. Then they need a business card, so they go to print company for one. Then they want to send out postcards to prospective clients and the mailing company throws something together for them. The business owner, thinking only of the current project, approves it and the project is on its way. However, if a prospective client sits down and looks at all of these pieces, often times the pieces are not cohesive. It’s like you are wearing one purple sock and one orange sock, yellow pants, a blue shirt and green hat. Who wants to do business with that?

The good news is that, just like your regular wardrobe, a business wardrobe is always a work in progress, and one great piece can sometimes bring it all together. With a vision of what you want to look like, and a couple of great pieces, you can look well put together all the time, with little effort.

So I invite you to take a look inside your business’ closet. Do you like the uniform that your business is wearing?

- Nancy Sawyer

You Can’t Afford Not To

Think you can’t afford a graphic designer? Think again!

Most people assume that hiring a graphic designer is just one more expense they don’t need. They think they just can’t afford to hire a designer in today’s economy. Yet realistically, your business can’t afford NOT to hire a graphic designer. Below are 6 reasons why.

Professional graphic designers…

1. IMPROVE YOUR IMAGE
We’ve all seen (and cringed at) marketing materials that were prepared and printed at home – be it business cards with the rough, perforated edges or brochures that are printed crooked, sloppily folded or seem to have run out of ink on the inside panel. Either way, it’s obvious they were not created by a professional and they leave a bad, lasting impression. People rely heavily on visual elements. A customer instantly forms an impression of your organization, the quality of your business and what it would be like work with you based on your printed materials. A great design adds a level of professionalism and elevates your business’ image to a higher level.

2. DISTINGUISH YOUR ORGANIZATION
We are constantly bombarded with thousands of advertisements that all vie for our attention. A great design is the best way to ensure that your company is noticed first and foremost. Professional designers know how to manipulate colors, fonts and images to convey an eye-catching design that your customers can relate to, trust, and most importantly, remember.

3. HELP YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU WANT
Sometimes you can be so close to a job or idea that it is hard to accurately convey your message. It can be difficult to see your faults, and/strengths, when you are so involved in your business. A graphic designer can remain objective. They can help you organize your thoughts, illustrate your ideas and successfully communicate your concept.

4. KNOW THE SOFTWARE
Some people believe they can do anything with Photoshop. The truth is,  you can do anything with Photoshop… poorly. No single program has all the necessary tools to create a quality product for every type of job. A designer knows what programs to use for what jobs, ensuring the best results every time.

5. SAVES YOU TIME
You’re an expert in your business. You know your job and you do it well. Likewise, a graphic designer is an expert in design. They know how to attract your target audience while visually conveying your image, product or service. By turning your ideas into reality, a graphic designer saves you time and leaves you free to do what you enjoy most.

I’ve saved the best for last…

6. SAVES YOU MONEY!
Logically, it makes sense that doing something yourself will save you money. Unfortunately, in the world of printing that sometimes isn’t the case. Do you know everything there is to know about bleeds, traps, kerning, tracking, type-safety, imposition, etc? If no, don’t worry because a graphic designer eats and breathes these things so you don’t have to. Unless you know how to prepare your file precisely the way it needs to be formatted for printing, you may find it costs more to fix than it would to simply hire a designer from the start. Not only can you avoid the hassle of reformatting and the extra art charges incurred to fix the file; but you could have had a professional, result-driven design from the start.

- Kate Vasvatekis

An Inside Look at Improving Your Education

Expanding Your Knowledge Base

Has your business participated in any events, conferences or training seminars recently?

While some people may have been celebrating their Irish roots on the 17th, Nancy, Christine and I spent the day engulfed in the ever-evolving technical world. Along with hundreds of other women, and even a few brave men, we attended the Geek Girl Cape Cod Conference. We anticipated the day to be a success from the mere fact that we would be engaging with other technically savvy women. Yet more so, we jumped at the chance to learn new skills and become more efficient, both individually and as a company. In today’s competitive economy, we know how important it is to stay current with technology.

The conference accommodated anyone from the “beginner newbie who needs hand-holding on all things computer, to the intermediate self-starter entrepreneur who needs some new tools, to entirely tuned-in code toads”. It was refreshing to see the amount of women, at vastly different career stages, willing and eager to learn. Each person was there to better themselves… to better their companies. I for one was excited to be a part of the day and thankful to be a part of a great business that embraces current trends. But really, how could any company afford not to?

Companies that are reluctant to change and do not value the importance of maintaining business trends can only produce an unmotivated staff with stagnant skills. Keeping employees up-to-date regarding logistical methods, software applications, social media, and strategies to improve efficiency are all necessary in keeping your business competitive. After all, a company is only as good as those running it.

As an employee, I can also attest that training is an excellent way to retain the best workers. People respond positively to the opportunity to improve their job skills, which results in greater job satisfaction, and ultimately more productivity. A well-trained staff with good morale is an enormous asset to any company.

So although we may have missed out on drinking green beer on St. Patrick’s Day, the ladies from Image76 are proud to have been Geek Girls for the day. We walked away from the conference with greater knowledge in our specialized fields, with the encouragement and networking power of countless women, and the assurance that we will never stop improving ourselves. We walked away from the event as a better company.

- Kate Vasvatekis

Marketing – Make It Personal

Marketing – Make it Personal

I had a conversation this week with the manager of a hair salon and boutique. She said that they used to post product images on their social media sites and on the website as updates. They weren’t getting a great response and couldn’t figure out why. Then they started posting photos of people – either clients in their salon, or before and after photos, or people with their new purchase – and their response increased significantly. Keep that in mind when considering  any marketing, be it printed brochures or online updates. People connect with people. It’s that simple. Include photos of happy, satisfied customers and the employees who make your business work. It will make connections, and a big difference.

With small business, it’s important to make sure that the marketing you are doing is a great reflection of both your brand and of you.

We spend hours doing research and wondering if we are doing the “right” marketing, in the right way, with the right frequency. But there’s more to it than that. Make sure that the marketing you do is a good fit for you and your business. Does it accurately reflect the values and significance of your company? Are you showcasing the value not just of your service, but of doing business with YOU?

As technology continues to make the world smaller, and more and more companies are reaching for the same customers, you must differentiate yourself as a company and as a person. Don’t forget about the power of the personal connection. Social media is continuously blurring the lines between business and personal ventures and as a result, it is time to consider your message. The most important thing you can tell a potential customer is why their life will be better if they work with you. You should tell them this in many ways, and as many times as possible.

Your online presence – whether with a website, Linkedin profile, facebook page, or other outlet – should reflect the same message, values and outlook as your printed and offline message. Bring attention to the personal side of your business – be it your great employees, a cause your business supports, or events you participate in. People make connections with people. So even though you have a business, your customers are most certainly connecting with a person in your business. Showcase that, celebrate that, and your marketing efforts will go further.

- Nancy Sawyer