In your marketing arsenal, you may have a Howitzer (like a #1 spot on Google) or you may have a pellet gun (EDDM). You may even just have a big rock (your logo in Sharpie on a tee shirt). But if you’re just starting out, there’s one thing we both know about your marketing arsenal:
You’re gonna have to build it yourself.
Yep, the Marketing Fairy’s not gonna come and bang out some door hangers and flyers overnight, no matter how many trays of milk and cookies you leave out. And graphic designers charge a pretty penny. So that leaves (looks around the shop) you.
The basics you need are: a business card, letterhead (has to work digitally as well as in print), and a brochure, flyer, or door hanger. You may or may not need small box or full page ads too, depending on your budget, because running them can be surprisingly expensive once you venture off Craigslist.
To start with, you need a logo, and this is worth setting aside a few hundred for. You might find a designer who will work for some kind of barter deal, but generally speaking they want cash, 50% up front. If you’re going to be in business a number of years, you will find it wise to get a good logo up front. The last thing you need is to pick something off of clip art only to find your competition uses it too. The logo will be used in every single piece of business related paper you use from now on.
So, pay someone for the logo.
Once you have that, it’s not terribly hard to work it into a business card, brochure, and letterhead. There are many online sites that will help you out as long as you then buy the printed products from them, and Microsoft Office has templates as well, although they can be frustrating to wrangle with if you want to customize them. Professionally printed products will always look higher-quality unless you’re a secret genius with a stash of expensive design equipment to hand.
Vistaprint is the king of this business, and for good reason. They will print up your cards for free (you pay shipping) as long as you let them print a big VISTAPRINT on the back.
Don’t do this.
Pay them a little more ($25 per two hundred, I believe is the current price) and get a business card that doesn’t advertise any business but yours. Quality is good, and you have the choice of a variety of finishes. If you work where it’s wet, get glossy to keep the rain off.
If you live in an area with a lot of techies you’d like as customers, think about Moocards, a rival to Vistaprint who have become famous for their thumb-sized cards. They’re cheap, easy to order, easy to design, and they mark you as tech-savvy. They also make excellent bookmarks.
After all the trouble you took to make a nice card, you will be glad to know you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to do letterhead, brochures, and signs. You’ve got the basics already:
- do you want the design elements centered, or aligned left or right?
- do you want the logo transparent, running behind the text, or bold and solid?
- did you decide to save money with black and white, or have you decided on a suite of colors you’re going to stick to?
- what does the card say about you? What’s your business “image?” Rockabilly? Stormtrooper? Friendly neighborhood guy? Trustworthy pro?
Keep that vision in mind when you design the other elements, and you can’t go wrong. Also: less is more. It’s easier for people to read when there is lots of empty space around the design elements and text. Give your content room to breathe and do its magic.
And remember: if you print a price on something, you’re stuck with either keeping the price till you’ve used up all the paper, or wasting paper and money and time. Stick with low print runs until you know you’ve got something that works, and you know how long it will take you to get through the supplies.
Oh, and one more handy tip: for door hangers, posters, signs, and anything else that sits out in the weather, professional ink doesn’t run. Inkjet ink runs.
To sum up:
The bad news is, The Marketing Fairy isn’t coming.
The good news is, you can do this!
Last modified: November 23, 2016