Can You Design Your Own Printed Marketing Materials? - dummies

Can You Design Your Own Printed Marketing Materials?

By Alexander Hiam

Marketers traditionally budget more for print advertising than for any other type of advertising, with the exception being the major national or multinational brands that market largely on television. For most local and regional advertising, print traditionally provided the most flexible and effective all-around advertising medium.

Although print is shrinking due to the advantages of web-based advertising and promotions, it’s still a major part of your marketing program and needs to be done right. Here are two ways you can design your own.

Crowdsourcing designers through contests

Announce your design needs on the web and attract hundreds of professional proposals from graphic artists all across the e-world. You can even use sites set up to connect you to designers, such as Freelancer, Crowdsite, LogoArena, or DesignContest.

For example, 99designs had a recent logo contest for Alchemist Distilleries, which produced an elaborate and striking design for this local beer brewer from Waterbury, Vermont. The cost of the contest was less than $300, drastically less than most traditional logo designs.

However, to date, the company hasn’t rolled out its new logo, which gets at one of the limitations of crowdsourced design: It’s easy and cheap to hold a contest and announce the winner, but unless you have the motivation and funding to revise all your marketing communications, from letterhead to signage to packaging, you may still find the costs of migrating to the new logo to be rather daunting.

Many of the crowdsourced design sites can be used for website design, packaging, or other design challenges, not just logos.

Doing the design on your own

Anyone with a basic computer and printer can now set up shop and create his or her own fliers, brochures, business cards, and ad layouts. In fact, Microsoft Word and Pages both include a number of excellent templates that simplify layout and allow you to bang out a new brochure or other printed marketing piece quickly.

Any graphic designer you hire will eschew Word and Pages and use the Adobe professional design programs. If you have experience using these programs, then you may want to design your own print materials (as well as websites and so much more), but if you’ve never used them, don’t try it now.

It takes a while to get really good, and your time may be better spent managing your marketing program. Do, however, take a look at Adobe Marketing Cloud, which many marketing departments now use to help them manage programs.

Small-scale marketers (such as independent consultants, landscape designers, and so forth) may want to try using a logo design website, where, for a usually quite modest fee, you can use easy-to-navigate software and a library of design elements to quickly make a clean, scalable logo that can be migrated to business cards, signs, your website, and so on.

A challenge may arise when design sites try to upsell you to their own printing and production partners and make it harder for you to work with your own vendors. You can easily buy a business card over the site with your new logo on it, but also find out whether you can get the actual file e-mailed to your own printer or web designer.

Designers often experiment with numerous layouts for their print ads or other printed materials before selecting one for formal development. Whatever approach you take to becoming a do-it-yourself designer, definitely experiment with layouts the way pro designers do. The more layouts you look at, the more likely you are to get an out-of-the-box idea that has eye-grabbing power.