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How to tell if your business will benefit from design.

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All business owners have at least one thing in common. We’ve all questioned our decisions at one time or another. Will “X” be the best thing for business? Will hiring this person ultimately bring more revenue to the company? Should we really expand into this market?

It’s what we do. We make decisions all day long that effect our companies. Particularly when the economy is not yet back to 100% health, you might be looking at your bottom line and wondering “where can I cut costs?” Unfortunately, design, marketing, and advertising are usually among the first things cut.

But is that the best thing for your business? 

Certainly, marketing and advertising have a strong case as to why they shouldn’t be cut. Without marketing and advertising, no one will know about your product when the economy does fully recover.

But what about design? Maybe you already have design. Your website is up and running, you have a direct mail piece, and your certainly already have a logo and business cards. Why spend more money on MORE design when you can just use what you already have? It’s served you well so far hasn’t it?

Here are some things to consider about whether or not your company could benefit from design while the economy is recovering.

Are you targeting multiple markets? 

This includes ALL characteristics of a market. Are you targeting audiences in different geographic locations? Are you hoping to get people of multiple age ranges to buy your product/service? Perhaps you have one product that is for the wealthy among us and one that is for the more price conscious? These are all examples of targeting multiple markets.

If this is you, you should really consider not cutting your design budget. And here is why.

Each demographic and even psychographic responds differently to design and marketing tactics. A clear example of this is  tattoo parlors. They are likely focused on the 18-34 age range because younger people are more likely to get tattoos. If they wanted to target 75-90 year olds, they would definitely need a different design and marketing campaign. Looking at geographic locations, what works for the middle class in Texas doesn’t necessarily work for the middle class in China. Those two markets have very different elements that make up their personalities. They are influenced by different political regimes, different lifestyles, different motivating factors, different attitudes, values, responses, etc. You get the point.

If you were to take your existing website that serves you well in America and simply purchase a “.cn” domain name and put it up in China, you’re in for a surprise. It likely won’t do quite as well over there as it does here. And that has nothing to do with your product/service or whether or not that’s a successful market for you. What it does have to do with is the PRESENTATION of your product/service, also known as, design.

Are you solely an online company?

The point about multiple markets can also be used here as you have no idea where your visitors are coming from if you are an online company. However, I won’t mention all of the pros of design for that instance again here.

If you are an online company, your digital presence is not only HUGE for you, it is all you have. 100% of your revenue comes of this outlet. If a website is that imperative to your company’s success, why wouldn’t you put it in the hands of a professional?

Technology changes all the time. So do design trends. Obviously you’re going to want to maintain your brand because you likely have brand equity built up. However, as the times change, if your website isn’t changing with it, it’s likely that your “brand” will start to be equated with “old and outdated.” This isn’t good for anyone but particularly if your major market focus is the 18-34 year old range.

Do you promote your business? 

This could be direct mail pieces, social media, advertising, etc. Any form of promotion is included in this example. If you’re a successful company, I imagine that you do some form of promotion.

Perhaps your last direct mail campaign you sent out gave you an incredibly high conversion rate. It would make sense that you want to do it again. And it’s likely it will work again, especially if you’re sending it to different people.

But, there are some things to think about.

  • Promotional materials also get old and outdated.
  • If you are sending promotional pieces to prospects/clients that have received something from you before, and it’s the exact same, that does not give a good impression.
  • When you are competing with companies that have designers coming up with incredibly clever promotional materials – like this one – your postcard is shortlisted for the trash can.

Think about it. 

There is no one right answer to whether or not you NEED design at this time. It’s different for every company. But I encourage you to think about the points listed above and make an informed decision about whether or not great design is something you’re willing to let go of for the time being.

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