THE ART OF GRAPHIX
By DEIDRE M. BASTIAN
I LIKE the saying: "You can't disguise a bad message, no matter how much you dress it up". There are many businesses who wish that their goods or services can appeal to everyone, and prefer skipping the planning segment to get right into design, not knowing that it takes time and patience to design the "right message" that will reach the "right people".
Likewise, there are many small businesses that feel all they have to do is announce their services to the world and they will begin to receive tons of business. Not quite. Before you market a product or service, an advertisement agent, graphic or web designer are among the business persons you may want to have a chat with.
Sure, they could take your money and create a single-product promotion, a one-time campaign, or assist in running an ad they imagine may turn everything around. But I suggest that before deciding to chit chat, ensure there is a plan to guarantee that all pieces fit together nicely to help in making the journey smoother.
With the help of flyers, radio ads, newspaper ads, e-newsletters, websites or even a Facebook page, always strive to spend your dimes on marketing efforts that will yield results rather than popularity.
Sure, people may look at your stuff and love your creativity, as it is so easy to get blown away with a beautifully-designed product, but I think solving the target's problem is the key to retaining loyalty.
Someone recently asked if a graphic designer needed to have an understanding of marketing? Well, quite simply, the answer is yes. If you do not have an understanding of how to market, whether it's a packaging design, or promoting a message or a website, you cannot adequately direct someone to take action.
At times I've had to wear at least three hats when dealing with clients, namely those of marketer, designer and counsellor. So there it is. Before you throw money at a designer to start a business venture, first ask these questions:
- Do I know specifically who I want to sell to? I know all business people want to sell to everyone. But pause for a moment and ask who really needs your service? Who cannot live without your product; the hungry or the starving? Who must have what you offer?
When you have selected your target group, ascertain which of their common problems your products or services can help solve. Define as much detail as you can, as this information will allow you to shape your content in a way that resonates with your target market.
- Do I know where to find my market? Narrow down online 'hang outs', as you don't want to spin your wheels (or waste money) distributing marketing materials in all the wrong places, and with the wrong people.
Think about this: Do you feel that it is easy to sell greasy hamburgers to a fitness fanatic? No, you'd want to sell fruits, vegetables, protein shakes or, perhaps, chicken breast sandwiches, which means you'd find them at a community gym.
When does the emotional "feel or flavour" of the content come into play? First, look at the message. What kind of flavor do you want? Do you want a humorous touch? Or a more introspective and serious one? These are some of the things you have to consider when chatting with your adviser.
Do I have a decent tagline? Your tagline is the short phrase that accompanies your business name, and should be designed to complement the latter. If your business name does not state what you do, then your tagline should. For example, if your firm is called Smith Company and you use 'We make it better fast' alongside your company's name, you are still not providing enough information for your market. Moreover, customers do not have a clue as to what your business does or why they should even be interested.
Do I have a compelling offer? A lot has been written about creating compelling offers. Your product or service should solve a real problem and deliver some form of value. I've always liked the saying: "If you don't know where you're going, any old road will take you nowhere." Often, people get lost in "pretty" and forget about "functionality". Therefore, try to use design messages that are alluring but effective.
As a final point, plan before creating, as it is very easy to get marketing wrong, which results in dumping money into hopeless solutions.Deliberate a bit longer to build a stronger structure and framework before marketing a new venture.
Remember, it doesn't really matter whether you're in web/graphic design or some other niche or marketing media; the principles are all actually the same.
'Know your target market, and be consistent with the design image and message of your business across all mediums. Most important, always strive to solve the urgent need of the business. So until we meet again, fill your life with memories rather than regrets. Enjoy life and stay on top of your game.
NB: Columnist welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
About columnist: Ms Bastian is a trained Graphic Designer with qualifications of M.Sc., B.Sc., A.Sc. She has trained at institutions such as Miami Lakes Technical Centre, Success Training College, College of the Bahamas, Nova Southeastern University, Learning Tree International, Langevine International and Synergy Bahamas.