WARNING BUSINESS OWNERS: Hire the wrong person to design your collateral material and you'll have a terrible end result and spend too much of your hard earned money!
If you asked me, learning the ropes of Marketing should include spending time in a print shop and sitting with a graphic designer. It's a pleasure when the business owner has an idea of a design for their materials, but it can also be a nightmare. If you're a business owner reading this, the advise I can give you is to be quite focused in your message and the look and feel of your printed collateral pieces.
But since you're not in marketing and you need a marketing image and targeted message, be sure YOU have the vision first. How do you pull this all together? Write down your answers to these questions:
- Who is your target for THIS piece ( you may have other collateral pieces but if you are attempting to save money and lump everything together, your message will get lost)
- Does this information include ALL connection information? (website, Twitter, Facebook, blog)
- What is the call to action? Do you want them to call you? Can they just order on-line?
- What is my differentiation? Why do they need to buy the product from you and not your competitor. What makes YOU so special?
- Do you have a logo? You need one. Period. Your brand needs to be consistent, recognizable and simple.
What do you need in the way of printed materials?
Business card- letterhead- envelopes - presentation folders
That's just to start. A presentation folder is not given on the first meeting. Notice, the word says "presentation" so when you are at the point of presenting, not pitching the products and services, you will need this collateral piece in hand.
A few details to consider:
- Business Cards (no raised lettering and NO multiple business lines on the card) What I mean by that is if own two businesses, don't put one business on the front and the other on the back. You are sending a mixed and confusing message. You want to be able to write on your business card so be sure you have at least one side that is called FLAT. Your printer will understand. Nothing worse than having a shiny card on both sides or a black or dark colored card that does not allow me to write information on it. NOTE: if you write something on the card and give it to someone- you have increased the chances of that person keeping it for a longer period of time. Personalize everything you do is meaningful (a connection to call, a new place to eat in town, the name of the waitress to ask for, a dish to try, a product that is just right for them, a website they need to look up). The design of the business card is critical as well. No more raised lettering. Yes, I know I said that already- did you pay attention? Raised lettering USED TO look classy, now it's the polar opposite. It looks cheap because the cards don't have design to them. Even if you are a lawyer reading this, it look cheap and tacky.
- Folder: if you make presentations, you need to have a custom folder. Have it designed by a professional graphic designer and then have it printed wherever you can get good quality at a price you can afford.
There are a few terms to understand before you visit a printer. If you did not use a professional graphic designer, you may have a terrible experience at a print shop because they aren't using an office printer to produce your pieces. Just like most websites need some kind of coding to perform special functions, printers use terms and techniques to get a quality image.
BLEED: where the design/color on a printed piece continues to the very edge of the paper. To achieve this look, the designer has to set it up the right way in order for the printer to do the job right. Too often, the designer doesn't even do the job right and you'll hear from the printer (they didn't set it up with a bleed) all that means is that you need to get back on the phone with your designer and get them to fit it. Don't ask the printer to fit it- they may charge you for the designer's error.
PMS: No, this does not have to do with a monthly event in a women's life. It's all the colors of the rainbow and then some. Printers and the design world use PMS colors to identify what color to use for your design. Okay, I'm over simplifying but I wanted to approach this term because it causes so many problems for printers/designers and customers. If you print your materials "digitally" versus on a traditional "printing press" you SHOULD NOT expect your chosen color to be perfect. PMS colors are mixed inks that get placed by hand on a press, and pulled through rollers to print your image on the paper. A digital press uses toner not tradition INK so you'll get close to the color but NEVER exact. This means, if you run your piece in a digital press today, the color will most likely be a little different if you run it tomorrow. Don't blame the printer- but I will ALWAYS recommend you get a proof before they run the piece.
Just two terms to wrap your head around.
Having a professional image and brand recognition is not only impactful but necessary to the look and feel of your business.
Bottomline: create a great brand with a professional graphic designer.
I know quite a few, let me know if you want an introduction.