Continued from page 1
So far we’ve talked about printed advertising and promotion, but for most businesses, internet has also become an important promotional tool. Print design, web design, and e-mail promotions require different skills and tools, so you may use different firms for each. However, there are some advantages if you can find a single firm to handle all your needs. The design firm can make sure that your print and web communications project a consistent image. And you will only need to provide your event information and promotional goals to one firm, who can then make sure that print ads are placed, website is updated, and e-mail invitations are sent. Some firms can also handle other design tasks, including menus, signs, and promotional items.
Typically, in order to get this range of services, you’ll need to work with a mid-size agency or design firm. There are advantages and disadvantages to choosing large or small agencies:
An individual designer (free-lancer) or very small agency can give you personal attention and often lower rates. But you will need to work around their schedule if they are out sick or on vacation, and you will need to find a new designer if they change jobs. Individuals and very small agencies probably cannot provide a complete package of design services.
Mid-size firms give your somewhat less individual attention, and may charge a higher rate than free-lancers. But on plus side, they can provide a broader range of services, and they have several designers on staff so they can accommodate your needs even if someone is out, or if you need a lot of work done for a key event.
Large firms can offer a full range of services and a large staff to meet all your needs. Unless you are a large account, you will probably get little personal attention. (In fact, in a large firm, smaller accounts are often given to junior designers and trainees.)
So, how should you choose?
Above all, find a firm whose work you like! Ask for samples and references, and if possible meet with designers before making a selection.
Decide if you want to hire a design firm (and manage ad planning and placement yourself) or an ad agency to provide more assistance with your promotional planning (most ad agencies will also provide "design only" packages if you prefer).
Find a firm that is large enough to meet your needs, but small enough to care about your business. We typically find that local, neighborhood businesses are best served by free-lance designers or very small firms; regional or metro-market businesses do well with mid-size firms, and major national companies get best results from large firms (and can afford to pay for them).
Talk to firm about how you will measure effectiveness of your advertising. It’s a good idea to try different types of advertising over time to see what works best for you. Consider coupons and special offers to measure how many people are responding to your ads.
Remember that even best advertising campaign gets stale over time. Plan for (and budget for) occasional reworking you advertising. Most designers respond very well to an opportunity to do something new for a client, and you will get best results from both your design firm and your customers if you freshen your advertising every 6-12 months.
Thanks to LunaGraphica Inc (http://www.lunagraphica.com) for input and suggestions on this article! Lunagraphica is a boutique advertising and design agency specializing in arts, entertainment and youth markets.
Bob Nicholson provides business and strategic consulting to internet start-ups and entrepreneurs through his company, WYGK Consulting (http://www.wygk.com)