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Should I DIY or Outsource My Brochure Design?

If you've ever received a quote from a graphic design company, and sat looking at the screen, a low whistle escaping you, wondering incredulously how people afford to market their businesses ... you have probably also considered just doing your own design! The most common corporate printed material (after business cards) is the company brochure - it's a necessity for many businesses. Today we are looking at whether it is more cost effective to outsource the design for your brochure printing, or do-it-yourself, and the extra benefits and disadvantages associated with each strategy.

Brochure printing as a corporate identity

Your brochure is the key to your corporate identity. Even more than your business card (which will be used mainly in B2B situations), your printed brochure is often the main physical point of contact for your customers when they are considering your products or services. It is vital that it be professional, attractive, and say everything that you need it to in a compelling way.

Does this mean I should DIY or outsource?

You should outsource if you:

  • Are not comfortable with graphic design principles or software
  • Are not comfortable with copywriting
  • Are competing with companies with professionally printed brochures
  • Want to improve a flagging perception of your business

You should DIY if you:

  • Have solid graphic design and copywriting experience, or access to someone in the company that does
  • Have little competition in your niche
  • Need to literally watch every cent and want a tiny (<25) run of brochures printed.

Skills needed for DIY brochure design

Beyond an understanding of what your company does and your corporate philosophy for doing it, there are quite a few skills needed for brochure design. You may be able to cobble these skills together from your circle of friends, employees and family. If not, it makes sense to have your design and brochure printing outsourced. The skills you'll need to acquire or find include:

  • Graphic design principles
  • Use of graphic design software
  • Flawless English grammar and spelling
  • Knowledge of persuasive marketing words
  • Skill in structuring copy

Cost comparison - DIY vs outsourcing

Looking at that quote in your inbox, it can be tempting to think that DIY will save you thousands. In reality, the DIY process has its own hidden costs! These include:

  • The cost of purchasing graphic design software
  • The lost productive hours in learning the software and producing the brochure for printing
  • The possibility of needing to review the design as the company grows
  • The cost involved in buying a printer that is up to the required standards, as well as decent quality paper
  • The cost of ink cartridges/toner in self-brochure printing

It may simply be that you haven't yet encountered all of the options for professionals to design and print your brochures. Often the staff at printing houses have graphic design experience as well, and these services are much more budget-friendly (with similar quality) to professional graphic design houses. You'll be able to revise your design as many times as you like, and have the benefit of expert help at DIY prices.

For example, a popular brochure printing house charges $300 for a set of 250 full-colour brochures, on heavy, glossy paper. It is only $390 to have the same printing house also do your design! There really is a financial as well as convenience incentive in outsourcing your brochure design and printing.

Is outsourcing Brochure Design for you?

With all these thoughts and tips, deciding on outsourcing your brochure design should be a little easier. Once you have made your decision and the brochure design has been finalised, be sure to contact Dark Horse Print & Design for your printing needs.

Five Ways to Use Calendar Printing to Market Your Business

Calendar marketing seems like a sure thing at face value. After all, everyone needs a calendar, and who doesn't like something for free? The problem is, you're competing with Anne Geddes' babies in giant peapods and Australia's most beautiful landscapes ... it just isn't a level playing field! You need to have a strategy for using calendar printing to marketing your business - a well-defined method by which you'll be promoting the use of your business. Branding is tough in the world of calendars - but there are plenty of other ways to make your printed calendars count! We check them out.

As giveaways - insert your sale periods in the calendar

With just a little planning, you'll be able to tell customers the best times to shop at your store, and make the most of loss leader promotions. Don't shade out the squares of your sales periods completely - compromising the usefulness of your calendar could cause it to be tossed out completely. You can design a little reminder into the main picture area of the calendar as well, to help ensure it isn’t missed.

As giveaways - insert car service or regular appointment reminders

Does your business have contact with your customers at regular intervals? There is a surprising range of businesses that can use variable data calendar printing to create calendars that are completely customized to the recipient. For example:
  • Mechanics can insert the dates of 3, 6 and 12 month services for their customer' cars on a calendar and send it to them.
  • Dentists and doctors can insert the dates that cleans, checkups and maintenance is required on calendars for their customers
  • Farmers can mark the expected maturation of their different crops on calendars to send to their suppliers and partners

As giveaways - highlight public holidays where people might buy from you

If your business follows similar patterns to many, you will have several times of year when you are very busy and many more weeks when you are quite quiet. Use giveaway calendars for little marketing messages during your busy times. You could say "Remember to pop into Make Like a Tree for your Mother's Day flowers today!", or "Have you ordered your Christmas ham from Lovely Legs Butchers? Don't miss out!" in your calendar printing.

As pure branding for sub-niches of your customers

If you are lucky enough to be in an emotionally-charged industry, you have plenty of opportunity to do branding for your business with calendar printing. Many people actually have plenty of emotion associated with their business - you just need to tap into what the customer is using your product for, in emotional terms. Are you in the nut-and-bolt industry? Have your calendar printing company design something where the Eiffel Tower, a Porsche 911 and a Harley Davidson feature prominently. Do you sell televisions? Images of people relaxing and snuggling up on the sofa or kids playing in the lounge are great starting points. Find the emotion that is applicable to your business and use it in your calendars. Try not to be too marketing-heavy with this tactic; ensure your logo is prominent, but don't try to overtly push your products. They have to enjoy the images for what they are, and connect them with your business without feeling pushed.

As a coupon delivery system

Good old McDonalds ... if you were young during the eighties and nineties, you probably remember the joy (!) of a new McDonalds printed calendar coming out, with a different special for every week. Low-dollar value, high customer-volume stores can do this just as successfully as the red and yellow clown himself.

Six Ways to Use Greeting Card Printing to Market Your Business

Everybody loves getting a card in the mail. That slightly higher weight and extra thickness sort of makes you feel like it's your birthday - no matter how old you get! Helping people get into a good mood is excellent practice for marketing your business to them, which is what has helped greeting cards  stay in the realms of direct marketing for so long. Before there was email, there was greeting card printing ... and when email falls by the wayside, physical greeting cards will still retain their marketing value. Here we give you six ideas for using colour card printing to get customers through your doors.

Customer-controlled blanks

This is a great way to guarantee that your cards will be kept, thought about in the future, and reach more than one person. There is little opportunity for direct marketing with this form of greeting card printing, but plenty of branding opportunity for branding. DO you want to send out company cards for people to use at Christmas? Think of a quirky way to connect the company and the event, and you have a card which is valuable to three people all of a sudden - you, the person you give it to, and the person THEY give it to.

Sending them out to prospects to keep in touch, along with a product sample if possible

Email marketing still hasn't rolled over and died, despite the advent of anti-spam legislation. This is because when it is permission-based, there is real value in sending a personal message out to your prospects to keep in touch with them. Greeting card printing is much less likely to be ignored than an email, though! If you keep the addresses of people that make inquiries, you can send out greeting cards at public holidays, or use them to let people know about an upcoming sale or promotion.

Giving them out with in-store purchases at Christmas, Mother's Day etc

Giving out a card with 'Season's Greetings' for something that is likely to be a Christmas gift, or 'World's Best Mum!' in the lead-up to Mother's Day is a wonderful way to create value for your customer. It costs less than a 5% discount would to your store, but makes more of an impact because your store is saving them time and trouble. Add an envelope, and you have made a lasting impression!

As appointment reminder cards

Unfolded appointment reminder  cards are most often used - however miniature folded cards can be placed much more prominently and are less likely to get lost in a wallet ... thereby reducing your number of annoying no-shows! They also give you space to start a dialogue with your customer, offer a discount or cross-promote your products. Greeting card printing companies generally have a range of sizes available - ask your sales rep.

As birthday cards for customers with a special birthday offer

Does your business keep a database with customer's birthdays in? Many do - the information may be collected as part of a loyalty program or other membership application, or be required for security purposes. If you have permission to contact your customers, sending them a birthday card is always appreciated. You'll probably be the only company they encounter that does so - great for memorability and branding!

Following up networking leads

Coming back from networking events, you will most likely have a fistful of business cards and no idea how to make a lasting impression with them. Have your greeting card printing company create some generic, blank ones with your company information, and just tell them that you enjoyed meeting them. Always appreciated - very effective!

Six Ways to Use Sticker Printing to Market Your Business

Many companies see stickers as an item best left behind in childhood ... all those messy residues! In fact, even if the target market for your business extends past age 12, there are plenty of ways you can use stickers to help brand and build your business. Stickers 'stick' around ... and if you can manage to get over all of their associated puns you can actually do some great marketing work with custom sticker printing for a tiny price.

1. As in-store giveaways for kids

The only promotional giveaway that kids would pay more attention than stickers, is chocolate. And it is easy to see which of those wins in the longevity stakes! Kids will pop your stickers on their toys, books and furniture, keeping your company in theirs, and their parents', memories for quite a while.

2. As in-store giveaways for adults

Adults often like stickers as much as kids - the only consideration is that they tend not to put them in so many different places, and they look for something which is not obvious advertising. If you can design a sticker that helps a person brand themselves (ie, it makes a statement that your customer wants to associate with their own personality), it will often be displayed prominently, kept clean and actually enjoyed! The design of your printed sticker is important if this is your strategy.

3. In your direct mail advertising

You can use your stickers as giveaways for entertainment/leisure display in your direct mail advertising, just as you can in-store. Another often-used tactic is to include your logo on 'functional' printed stickers within your direct mailings. Stickers can be used for envelope sealers or for scrapbooking, and give people a reason to actually look through your direct mail letter.

4. As a substitute for coupons

We have all, at one stage or another, had a fast food sticker on our windshield that entitled us to a free upgrade. You can also ask customers to put your custom sticker printing on their store loyalty card, phone card, even credit card for handy access to your discounts.

5. Sponsoring a sports team

Even if your company can't get one of the coveted placements on player's uniforms, you can get quite a lot of exposure by putting your stickers on their equipment. Cricket bats, hockey sticks, helmets ... these all have room for printed stickers, and you are less likely to be competing for attention on the uniform.

6. On employee cars and company vehicles

Don't waste all that ripe marketing space! You can get larger custom sticker printing done for car doors (many products are paint-safe), or simply pop some of your company stickers in visible spots on the windows.

Sticker design best practices

We touched on this point earlier - for most people over the age of 12, your sticker has to provide something greater than the joy of adhesion! This comes in its design, and can be in the form of:
  • Something that looks 'cool' or attractive
  • Is useful, such as a map or coupon
  • Helps people define their personality to others

Sticker printing best practices

You can get the most of out your customer sticker printing exercise by collaborating with the company printing your stickers for you. Ask them questions about:
  • What sort of stock will work best for the application you have in mind
  • Whether the back of the sticker can be utilised for providing information
  • Whether they can die-cut your stickers, and whether the price suits your budget
  • Whether they can help you with the design of your sticker for a reasonable price