Do you design your own marketing materials, but wish they looked more professional?
In this video, you’re going to learn some great tips and tricks to make your home-made marketing materials look high end.
I interview Pamela Wilson. She is an award-winning graphic designer and marketing consultant who has helped small businesses and large organizations create “big brands” since 1987.
In 2010, she founded Big Brand System to show small business owners how a system of strategic marketing and great design makes them look professional, cohesive and successful. She believes that your business may be small, but your brand can be BIG.
Pamela is now Executive Vice President of Educational Content at Copyblogger Media, where she helps people build a strong presence on the web.
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This week’s shout-outs go to…
Do you design your own marketing material, but wish they could look more professional?
Hi. I am Carmen Sognonvi. In this video, you are going to learn some tips and tricks for helping to make your marketing material that are homemade look high-end.
By the way, if you want to get the 7 tools I rely on for marketing in my business, head on over to CarmenSognonvi.com/tools. I’ll cover everything from graphic to design and printing, and I’ll even show you an app that we use where you can track how your fliers are actually distributed.
In this video, I interview Pamela Wilson. Let me tell you a little more about Pamela.
She is an award-winning graphic designer and marketing consultant who has helped small businesses and large organizations build big brands since 1987.
In 2010, she founded Big Brand System to show small business owners how a system of strategic marketing and great design makes them look professional, cohesive and successful.
She believes that you business may be small, but your brand can be big.
Pamela is now Executive Vice-President of educational content at Copy Blogger Media, where she helps people build a strong presence on the web.
Without further ado, here’s is my interview with Pamela.
C: Hi Pamela! Thanks for joining me today.
P: Hi Carmen! I’m so glad to be here.
C: Great, so what we wanted to bring you on today to talk about is design tips. So, A lot of small business owners obviously don’t have large budgets so they are doing their own graphic design, so maybe making their own fliers, posters, maybe even building simple websites, designing emails.
C: And so, what I would really love to get from you, since you are really an expert in this area, is what are some — well let’s start with — What are the top mistakes you would say that you see business owners making when it comes to graphic design? That is making their design look not as professional or as compelling as it could be.
P: Right, it’s such a great question and there is an answer to it that may not be what people are expecting, but I would say that the biggest mistake I see is a lack of consistency.
What happens is that people get enamored with colors or fonts and they say, “Oh, I need to do a flier so I’m going to use that font. It’s so cool. It’s such a cool font. I’m going to use it on my next flier. Then, they see a color, maybe a color a competitor has used and they say, “Oh, you know that red, it looks really good. I’m going to use red on my next flier.”
P: And what happens is all of their materials looks different and there is no consistency between them. So the market that is trying to understand who their business is and trying to get a handle on their brand doesn’t have anything to hold onto to. There is nothing consistent that they see across time.
P: So that, to kinda morph into the next question, I know you wanted to know about simple ways to brand and things that are inexpensive. It’s basically that, picking a couple of fonts, a couple of colors that you decide to associate with your brand and using those very consistently over time and it takes a lot of discipline. It’s not easy.
C: Yeah, that’s a great tip. because one of my first jobs when I graduated from college was when I worked at a marketing consultancy and I had the opportunity to work closely with a couple graphic designers, and I learned a lot. For example, big companies will have what they call — um…I’m forgetting…
P: Style guides. [laughter]
C: Yes, style guides. Right. It will be, you know, exactly, we only use these two colors primarily and these will be the secondary colors. We only use this font. Headers look like this, subheads look like this. So basically things are spelled outs so that’s when you look at material from big companies it has that consistency that you are talking about, right?
P: It’s consistent, and you know what it’s so important with big companies because what happens in a big companies is that you all these different people that make material to represent the brand so and there is no consistency between the people themselves. So they do need some kind of guideline. And what happens is people who have small businesses just think oh well, I”m going to do them so they always look the same because they come from me. But over time, sometimes we have this shiny object syndrome where, like I said, we are like, “Oh, that font. I want to use it.” or “Oh, that color looks great. I want to use that color.”
P: And we end up going after these things that take us off brand. It takes you off brand. It’s like outside of this brand language you’ve developed, it just doesn’t look consistent. So, the reason that’s bad, it’s not because we have to be strict; it’s also because our market is being bombarded with messages a marketing messages all day long from the time they get up to the time they go to sleep.
P: So, if you want any chance in making a dent, an impression with your brand, you need to be very consistent with the way you deliver that message every single time it’s delivered. Because if you do that over time, if you are consistent, then you have a chance that something to happen like for instance, Coca-Cola. When you see that Coca-Cola red with those white letters, you know, even if you couldn’t make out the letters, you would know it was Coca-Cola. And if you see a truck and it’s brown with gold on it, you know that’s UPS, you just know it, you know?
P: And that comes from using those branding elements consistently overtime.
C: Great, and so, um, what are some tips that you could share with our audience to make their graphic design look more professional? So, even if they are doing it themselves, complete DIY, what are some simple things they can keep in mind to make just make it look that much more professional?
P: Yeah, well those two things we just talked about are super important so I want to reiterate them. Pick a couple of fonts that you think represent your brand that are easy to read. Use those very consistently. That’s actually going to make your job a lot easier, because you will go to make your brochure or your flier, and there are hundreds of fonts and if you are like me there are thousands of fonts on your computer, and it’s much easier if you say, “No. I’m going to use this one or I’m going to use that one.”
P: And then your big decision is how large I’m going to use it or how bold I’ll use it. The same thing with colors. Doing that alone is going to make it a lot more professional. On top of that, one of the biggest mistakes that people make who don’t have design training try to cram a lot of information into any space.
P: Think about a letter size piece of paper. Somebody who doesn’t have design training tends to put the headline close to the top of the paper, maybe it’s half an inch away from the border of the paper – Um- and then they run the text, also, maybe 1/2 inch from the border of the paper, which is kinda the default margin that most of the program give you. Right?
A designer, immediately, as soon as they open a document, the first thing they do is bring in those margins, because bringing in those margins is going to immediately inject white space into the document and make it look easier to read. So that alone, I mean, that move alone, having 1.5 inch wide margins is going to make it look like a designer had their hands on it. That’s like a super secret professional trick that we use. [laughter]
C: Would that also apply with the space between the lines of text?
P: Somewhat. There is a delicate balance when it comes to that. One of the things you want to do is you want related text to stick together. That’s the highly technical term for what we call it. [laughter] You don’t want to space your lines out so much that you are having to visually hop from line to line to be able to follow them. So, if you have a paragraph of text, you want to have it relatively compact so people see it as one element, if that makes sense.
P: They see your headline as an element. They see your body text as a separate element. And it’s kinda hanging together visually. So you don’t want to spread it out too much. It’s a little different on the web. So, if you are doing it for a website, typically line spacing on a website is a little looser. It’s just a little more open than what you would use in print for like a flier or brochure.
C: Speaking of this phenomenon of trying to pack too much information into one piece, it seems to me a lot of that also comes down to not being super clear on the goal of what that particular piece is supposed to do. For example, I know a lot of people in my audience send me their fliers to critic, and very often they are trying to cram all their products and services they offer, their story all into one piece, and often I’ll tell them, you know, it’s – the only purpose of the flier is to do one thing, so maybe you want them to visit this page on your website or call your phone number. Once they have made contact, then rely that information. Um – so what are some – are there any tips you can share when it comes to when it comes to what is the purpose of each piece?
P: That is a fantastic tip. You can’t ask your one flier to take on the entire burden of marketing your whole business. It’s like too much for that little flier. It usually works better if you think about your marketing as a journey that you are taking your customer along. And usually no single piece of your marketing is going to take them across the whole journey. It’s like this piece is a step, and this piece will move them onto the next place and this piece moves them to the next place.
P: If you think about it that way, you truly can drill down and think, when they are in this part of the journey, what is the one thing to do that will move them to the next part of the journey, and you just, it’s more like stepping stones. You just try to move them along those stepping stones with your different marketing pieces rather than asking one single marketing piece to do the whole job.
P: For example, the way that would play out on a website is you may have a homepage that people land on, so they land on your homepage, and you have various stepping stones on your homepage where they can then move to a further point on their customer journey. So if they are interested in a specific part of your business, you try to move them to a page on the site that talks about that part of your business. So no single page is doing your entire marketing job. You are just kinda moving them to the next point. Does that make sense?
C: Yes, I love that analogy of stepping stones. Of course, you’re a designer so you made it very visual. I think that can help people visual that you go from this stone to the next stone to the next stone. And all along the way, you want to have a really singular focus.
C: Let’s talk about photos. If you are a small business owner, very often you are relying on stock photography. I definitely encourage people, as early as you can to try and get your own photos taken. These days there’s many inexpensive way to do this with so many aspiring photographers out there. But let’s say you don’t have that in place yet, and you are really relying on stock photography. What are some tips you have for picking good photos? As we all know, there’s a lot of terrible, terrible stock photography out there.
P: Yeah. There is a lot of terrible stock photography. There are a couple of things that I tell people to avoid. One thing is, photography usually works better if the people in the photo look like the type of customer you are trying to attract. So you might have a business where all your customers look like professional models, but most of us don’t, so it’s possible that all of your customers are perfectly groomed and wearing little polo shirts – I don’t know – and they just had their hair and makeup done. But most of us don’t have customers that look like that. The first thing to look for is anything that looks like they hired a set of professional models to photograph the.
P: You want real people, right? So, if you are trying to get stock photography that looks like your customer, they should be real people. They should have some __ , have some wrinkles. They should look like real, relatable people. Sometimes you see a photo and you are like, oh that’s perfect, but you want to avoid photos were people are overly posed. They just look like they are posing for a photographer.
Thanks for sharing some excellent and extremely practical tips Carmen!
Although personally, I’m not that active with my use of flyers.Still in
all the intricate details you got Pamela to share was extremely helpful!
And I jotted down several really good notes, just in case a customer or client
ever has any questions, I can gladly refer them to your site! Thanks!
I definitely learned a lot!
Hey Mark, thanks for your kind words! Pamela is such a wealth of design knowledge – it’s awesome. 🙂 Glad you found some useful tips for your clients too!