When we speak of graphics designers we are referring to the hundreds of individuals or companies you find online that offer logo design, business cards, and various other design and printing services. Some of these companies offer custom designs; some offer user-driven template design, or do-it-yourself; some are just companies that outsource the design to the cheapest designer. The one thing in common with the majority of these companies is that you supply the verbiage. They will take your words and slap it on a stock template and ship to you. Good designers can visually create anything you ask for and make it look any way you like, but they could care less if the design is effective or not.
A Marketing specialist is an individual or company that has experience in helping you get your message heard, as well as being your designer. Beyond having quality designers, marketing specialists focus on what to design so that it has the maximum desired effect. Marketing agencies will ask you specific questions about your product and who you think a likely customer would be and then make recommendations as to how the material should look and what your message should say so that it has the potential of reaching the maximum number of customers.
By building an ongoing relationship with a marketing agency you will be establishing a partnership with one goal in mind: assuring your success. A good marketing agency knows that your success is directly tied to their success. The more money they can help you make the more you will require their services and refer them to your friends. In choosing who you use to design your material you should consider several factors:
- Years of design experience
- Years of business operation
- Where they are located
- What you expect vs. what they can deliver
- Samples of the required work to be performed
- Current list of references
- What do they charge
- Language barriers
You will find many low-cost marketing solutions online. These will range from vendors who do not actually design anything themselves but outsource your project to other designers, many of them in foreign countries, to get it designed for a cost much less than they will charge you. Some online vendors, whether local or international, are very good at what they do but they could care less about the success of your campaign. Lastly, there are marketing firms that offer several favorable solutions and that do care about the success of your business because they want to establish an ongoing business partnership with you.
Deciding who to consider for your material designs isn’t just about price, or the size of the company, or its reputation, but more so the establishment of an ongoing relationship that will help ensure branding continuity. The more a good marketing company understands your business the better chance at success you will have, as they have keen insights as to what material you will need to target the widest possible audience for any given design. Also, a mutually beneficial partnership can guaranty the timeliness of the required material. Designers and marketing agencies are going to fall into four categories — local, regional, national, and international. I recommend careful consideration of these categories before having a designer do your work. Let’s look at each one in detail:
- Local – For your printing needs and internet needs, going local is the most advantageous. They can meet deadlines faster, they can communicate in the same time zone, and they can come visit you; or better, you can visit them. But with this said, do your homework on each vendor. Just because they are local doesn’t mean they are good at what they do. Pricing for services will vary as will quality. But as far as local goes, you can’t beat the ease of communication and more importantly the ability to meet deadlines.
- Regional – If your business is in a less populated city you might not find the kind of quality you seek in the local area. In this case consider nearby metropolitan areas to get your pricing. All the same benefits of the local firms are there but you will probably find many more professionals to choose from.
- National – While seeking local agencies is the most prudent choice for all your printing needs, this is not the case with Internet development. Even in a local scenario most of your business dealings will be by phone. The advantage is that they are most likely in time zones that will allow you to carry on normal discussions. You would consider a national company only if you feel your local or regional firms don’t offer the expectations you are seeking.
- International – This should be given very careful consideration. Where is your product going to be sold? If it’s in your city, state, or America, then your best choice is to stick to companies in your own country. If your product is global you have to decide whether a national agency would be a better choice than an entity in a foreign country. If you are solely driven by low-cost and could care less about establishing an ongoing partnership, then you can’t beat foreign designers. But before you go cheap consider these factors: if you go cheap you get cheap and you’ll look cheap. Other issues you will encounter with foreign designers are: language barriers, communication barriers, time zone differences, deadline barriers, and, most importantly, unless you have written good content, know the images you want to use, and know the target audience you are trying to reach, foreign designers just won’t have the insight into delivering a message that works for the average American consumer.
Aren’t all designers the same? I guess if your only criteria for purchasing a car were that it had 4 tires, no bells and whistles, and you spent as little as possible — or if your food needs were merely to fill your stomach without a care to as to how it tasted — then yes, you could say all graphics designers are the same. Ask yourself this though: if you wanted to appear professional and attract the same clientele as an established company (like a Mercedes), what chance of success would you have if you had little more to offer against Mercedes than four tires and a cheap price? For all the benefits that a car built by Mercedes has to offer, the two that you should set as a standard when comparing your own offering are quality and reliability. Both of these standards are true for the company as well as their vehicles. People don’t want to have to buy a new car every year. The quality you can expect is related to reliability of the product.
Let’s assume you have all the answers. You know what you need designed. You know how you want it designed and you know who your target customer is. You have all the images and verbiage written and all you need is for someone to lay it out so it can be printed. If you are at this stage then all you need is a designer. Conversely, if you know what you want to sell but need advice on ways to sell it, then you will need to consider a marketing specialist.
In conclusion, your company’s success or failure could well be determined by who you choose. So choose wisely. It’s probably obvious to you what the considerations are when comparing automobiles in terms of quality and reliability, but such considerations may not be as apparent in choosing the right designer if you don’t know what to look for. When you buy a new car, no matter what the manufacturer, you will always take that car to the dealer for service and repairs.
Remember we talked earlier about allocating a portion of your business profits in maintaining an ongoing marketing strategy. Over time you will add new products and services, target new demographics, or grow into new regions of sales potential. When you work with a marketing agency you ensure the continuity of your message as your material needs progress into these new targets. So while online marketing agencies will most likely be the most expensive of all three bids, for a prolonged partnership they are the best choice.
Date : 10/18/2011