This past weekend I had a hair appointment. I have to admit to possessing some girly-girl tendencies … enjoying a little pampering such as mani/pedis or a massage, and anyone who knows me will tell you how much I love shoes! So these every-other-month visits to the salon are something I enjoy. Why? Because I leave knowing I’m looking my best again. This “pampering” is actually all part of maintaining my appearance – from my nails to my shoes to my hair – I want to make a good impression and show I take a (healthy) amount of pride in my image.
As I sat in that chair at the salon, examining my manicure and admiring my shoes with my hairstylist friend, all of these thoughts led me to this one: I don’t trust MYSELF to highlight and cut my hair – I hire a professional. The few times in my life I HAVE attempted to color (or cut) my own hair, the outcome has been disastrous. As a result, my appearance was embarrassing. But even more, the fact I did it myself actually sent the message I didn’t care enough about my image to invest in a professional.
I have observed many business owners making the same mistake with their brand identity and marketing materials. I often give the example of showing up to a business or client meeting wearing a bathrobe and fuzzy slippers – I think we all agree a business owner would never do that! Yet that is precisely the careless and unprofessional impression one leaves with homemade marketing. If these amateur materials give an unprofessional image, then obviously using professional collateral sends a message of success and appears to legitimize your business. I love this quote from marketing strategist Laurie Ayers:
“The cost of business LOST due to unprofessional marketing materials will far outweigh the cost of professionally-produced print and online marketing collateral.”
The #1 Objection
That brings me to the number one objection I hear regarding DIY versus professional design and marketing: cost. Allow me ask this … how valuable is YOUR time? The best way to address this is to tell one of our client’s stories. This business owner asked for a quote to design a two-sided flyer, but decided to “save money” and create the flyer himself. After spending what he estimated to be a total of 8-10 hours creating this piece, he called me in frustration. “Tonya, I did the math. At my hourly rate of $100/hour, I just cost myself about $1,000 to design this flyer. And it doesn’t look good. Will you please design this for me?” Additionally, those were hours he could have been working IN his business, not ON it. Meeting with clients or referral partners, training employees and so on. He learned the hard way the cost of using a professional is more than worth the investment.
A business owner needs their company to stand out, needs to be recognized, needs to be memorable, needs to resonate with their target market. Those are the essentials to building a brand, and a company’s brand needs to be thoughtfully developed and carefully maintained by a team of marketing professionals. Dr. Ivan Misner, the founder of BNI, has this to say about developing a brand:
“When you’re designing your marketing materials, you certainly want them to be tailor-made. Using a low-cost, generic, homemade approach in your company branding, ads, brochures and website won’t set you apart from the crowd. It won’t tell people what’s distinctive about YOU, your business, your products and services. It won’t cause YOU to be remembered.”
Business owners, I challenge you! Step back and evaluate your marketing. Are you doing it yourself? If so, how much is it costing you? Assign a real dollar value to it! Are you reaching your target market effectively? (Do you even know your target market?) Do you have a REAL brand image – a cohesive, professional and memorable look that is consistent with its usage of colors, fonts and imagery across all mediums (from print to internet to signage/promo items?) If you are not doing it yourself, still ask the above questions and decide if you’re getting a return on your investment. Perhaps it’s time to take it next-level.
And one last question … are you “doing it yourself” by using templates from an online printer? Stay tuned to my next blog as I discuss why online templates belong on a company’s “What Not to Wear” episode!