Generally speaking, by the time a prospective client reaches out to me, they have discovered their “pain points.” They realize they need a new look for their brand in the form of updated marketing materials, web site or logo. Or they need updates for their brochure, or a new brochure entirely. Or maybe they have an event coming up and need some materials designed to promote it. Sometimes, a project snowballs into other projects once the client realizes that the new piece looks so much better than their other marketing materials. I’m not going to lie, I really enjoy those! But often, the client doesn’t realize their materials are out of date and need some design love. So I’m here to pose 5 tough questions to clients.
1. Is your web site outdated? Some businesses are marketing a service or product which changes frequently enough that their site should be updated often in order to show they aren’t neglecting their content. Once a visitor arrives on your home page and sees that you are announcing an event or new product launch that specifically mentions a date, you need to be sure that once that date has passed, you change the content of your site to reflect that. So, you’re occupying a booth at a big conference in 2012! Wow, really? Good for you! That’s awesome news, but it was awesome news in 2011 or 2012. It’s not relevant now, and the fact that it’s a feature news item on your site’s home page is embarrassing for your business. Similarly, if you are a dog breeder and you have a litter coming available, you want people to know about it! Oh, the puppies were born in 2014 and were all sold? Whoops. If I were searching for a puppy in the breed you specialize in (and I recently was), I want to find you if you have puppies available, or a litter coming soon. If I see your site announcing the litter from 3 years ago, it’s nothing but a dead end for me, and you can be sure I’m leaving your site and going elsewhere. Even if you are expecting a new litter next week and could have sold me a puppy.
As a business owner, you want to appear to have things organized and your business well put together. Having obviously outdated content on your home page or elsewhere on your web site is a huge no-no.
2. Do you even have a web site? People are savvier these days. Instead of reaching for phone books, people hit up Google for the information they are looking for. If I were looking for a plumber or a landscaper or a naturopath, I’m going to go directly to Google, or I’ll post a message on a location-specific Facebook page asking for recommendations. What I’m getting at is that my first stop is the internet, and I know that many people these days are just like me in that sense. So if Nancy Naturopath doesn’t have a web site, I’m never going to find her to give her my business. Ditto for Monty Mulcher and Patrick Plumber. In this day and age, you really need to have a presence on the internet in order to grow your business. It doesn’t have to be a big complicated web site with 25 pages of content. It can be a basic home page with a contact me form. But you need to have something, and it needs to serve the purpose of allowing your future customers to find you.
3. Are you trying to “DIY” your logo, web site or marketing materials to save money? As they say, a “Jack of all trades is the expert of none.” As a business owner, you have enough on your plate with generating widget sales, leveraging your assets, realizing paradigm shifts and taking a deep dive to achieve 360-degree thinking, not to mentioning doing your own books and office management. Do you really want to add another task to your busy life? If so, do you really think you’ll do the best job possible at it? Let’s be honest, you probably don’t know a lot about user interface design and you might not really have a grasp on design principles such as proximity and tension as they relate to layout.
4. Are you hitting up the online “budget” vendors to get your logo, web site or marketing materials done? There’s something to be said for saving a whole bunch of money on your car insurance by switching to Geico, or getting 1000 paper plates at the dollar store for… a dollar, or for paying five bucks to get a logo for your business, but those things are not at all the same. Your logo and your marketing materials represent your business and your brand. Your business is very likely how you sustain your life and pay your employees if you have them, and it’s probably a reflection of a dream you once had or that your grandparent had. It’s not a dollar store item, so don’t treat it as such. Invest in your brand just as you have invested in your product or service to get it to where it is today. A cheapo five dollar logo you got off the internet isn’t original to your business. It can (and will) be tweaked a tiny bit and sold to the next person who has a similar business and hires that same cheapo five dollar internet designer to design their logo. For five bucks, you don’t own the rights to anything. You get a mass produced cookie cutter logo. Cheapo 5 dollar designer isn’t getting paid to understand you or your business. They aren’t going to ask probing questions to understand your market, your vision or your 10-year plan. And in 5 months when you want to tweak the colors or write some new content for your brochure, Cheapo 5 dollar designer is going to be no where to be found. Or they are going to overcharge you on your updates in order to make up for the Cheapo 5 dollar work they did to get you as a client.
5. What does “cutting corners” on your brand or web presence say about you as a business owner? Exactly. Usually, it shows. And it implies that you cut corners, and your customers will begin to question whether you are in turn giving THEM the best possible product or service. People notice when they see good quality work, just as they notice when they see garbage. If I am having a new home built (and it so happens that I am, as I type this) I don’t want the materials to be second-rate or cheap. Cheap can mean defective. Cheap doesn’t mean good. And I want my home to be made well, using good materials, because I definitely don’t want the big bad wolf to blow my house down because the pigs wanted to cut corners. You get my drift.
The best favor you can do for yourself and your business is invest in a professional designer for your logo, web site and marketing materials. The work will be high-quality and customized and the job won’t be considered delivered until it’s just exactly what you want. If you develop a relationship with a good designer, you have found a partner you can rely on and a resource you can tap into when you need work down the road. You will have found someone who can make your logo relate to your web site, which looks like your brochure, which looks like your brand book, which looks like your sales presentation. And as far as your web site’s content is concerned, investing in a retainer agreement with a web designer can ensure you have time to do what you do best, while your site stays up to date and your content is fresh and current.
Partnering with a professional designer means you have a relationship with someone who is invested in the success of your business.
After answering these tough questions, are you ready to partner with a professional designer and take your brand and your business to the next level? I’d love to hear more about that. Let’s chat.