Tag Archives: Web Designer

Automated Marketing Let’s You Market In Your Sleep

Internet Marketing Strategy Connection Group

The previous blog post covering automated marketing barely skimmed the service about the features and benefits of marketing automation for small business. I’m continuing here to be sure that  I communicate clearly that there is a lot of leg work that has to happen for automated marketing to get rolling.

Automated Marketing Services Upfront Planning:

  • create targeted landing pages (for each product or service)
  • develop detailed customer profiles
  • identify marketing automation database segmentation
  • determine what events / actions to track
  • create tracking methods to identify who participated in a campaign  (attended a webinar, opened an email, responded to social media post, or clicked on a Google ad)
  • view reports, determine common visitor traits or failed closings
  • design messages that are graphically appealing
  • write compelling copy
  • tailor drip email campaigns to generate attention
  • and more…

Create more leads and close more sales.

Because we are a design and marketing firm we have received sales calls from automated marketing services firms for years. We’ve tried out demos, reviewed benefits and features and inquired on pricing for each automated marketing company. Some companies were incredibly expensive and truly were designed for large corporations like GM who receive tens of thousands of hits per day. The ROI just wasn’t there for most small businesses.

Can automated marketing benefit small businesses?

The challenge we found with all of the marketing automation companies is that they all claimed marketing automation was easy. The only way marketing automation is easy is if you are a marketing firm who is already using digital marketing services like email, CRMs, visitor tracking, analytics, etc. and attempting to build comprehensive results from the different platforms. It’s a lot of work! Converting to marketing automation services is like a ride in the park after juggling all of those pieces and trying to make sense of them.  Realistically though most small business are not doing many of those pieces on their own, so jumping into an automated marketing solution is a huge undertaking.

If you are a small manufacturing firm in mid-Michigan, a craft brewery in Lansing or a commercial builder in Grand Ledge, Michigan you’re too busy running your business to be working on all of the pieces needed to create successful automated marketing campaigns. You either need a full time website designer and marketing communication manager in-house or you need to outsource it to a marketing company like ours. We have found that the small businesses, associations, and community organizations in Grand Rapids and Lansing who we have met with who attempt automated marketing on their own seldom implement it to it’s fullest potential. There are far too many steps required to get it up and running.

  • customer persones
  • segmentation identified
  • campaigns are built
  • website enhanced for automation
  • communication and call to action copy developed
  • graphic design elements created
  • review of reports
  • sales department actions

Once all of the above are complete, you can monitor campaigns, traffic, and reports and your website marketing will truly be automated and leads will be forwarded to your sales team.

Do you think your company is ready for marketing automation services? Give us a call, we can talk about your goals and whether marketing automation is a good fit for you at this stage in your business. Connection Group can provide assistance setting up your automated marketing campaigns and turn it over to you or we can set it up, manage and provide input on the data and reports. We can help you rest easy and keep your business on track.

How to Hire a Graphic Designer 101

how to hire a graphic designer photo of tablet with foo foo coffee and graphic doodles.Maybe on the onset your secretary’s business card designs helped get the word out about your company. Now that you are past the launch stage you are curious about how to hire a graphic designer – a professional graphic designer who can present the company at a higher level. Whether your small business needs an updated logo design, sales sheets, brochures, or digital artwork created for websites and social media, knowing how to hire a graphic designer will save you time and money.

How To Hire a Graphic Designer Checklist

First, ask around, ask for referrals from trusted colleagues. Next, refer to this checklist. Clear communication up front will make for an enjoyable exchange of creativity and successful graphic design solutions for your company.

  1. Does the graphic designer have samples to review? Graphic artists (aka graphic designers) love to show off their talent. Ask them for samples of similar work to your project or view their website.
  2. Can they provide references or testimonialsEstablished firms and freelance graphic designers will have client testimonials for your review.
  3. What services does the graphic designer provide? There are specialty graphic design services such as website design, animation, and companies who offer logo design only. Make sure the graphic design firm you choose offers the services you need.
  4. Do you need to hire other professionals? Graphic designers are responsible for design. Typically they are not editors, copywriters or even photography retouchers. These are all elements that may be needed as part of your project but are not necessarily the role of all graphic designers or from every graphic design firm. Clarify upfront what you think you need and determine who  is responsible for each role.
  5. What are the steps in their creative process? How many concepts will be presented at the initial design stage? How many proofs will be provided as part of the estimate? How many and what types of changes are included in the estimate? Are proofs provided electronically or through hard copies or in person?
  6. How much time is allotted for the graphic design consultation? To build a new corporate brand image for your small business or provide elements in support of an established company brand such as a brochure or catalog it is important for the graphic designer to consult with someone in the company prior to beginning the project. How much consultation time is included in the estimate? This will usually depend on the scope of the project. Less time is allocated for a brochure and more will be needed for a complete campaign. Is additional consultation time available for a fee if needed via phone, in person or emails?
  7. What if you don’t like the design? If you have done your diligence, viewed the graphic designers work and determined their design style fits your style you’ll probably get a winning design right off the bat. If the design is not what you are looking for first ask yourself why, what’s working, what’s missing, etc. Provide the designer with this feedback. Try not to be vague – have concrete feedback to avoid wasted time and additional design fees.
  8. How much do graphic designers charge? Graphic designers charge hourly and by the project. With established clients graphic designers may also work on retainer or hold an annual contract. Fees vary from agency to freelancer. Keep in mind just because you are hiring a freelancer doesn’t mean you are paying less than a firm may charge.
  9. What is availability and turn around time? Turn around time for design projects is often based on first come first serve but exceptions can be made with rush projects. Additional rush fees may be added and you may not get lead designers on your rush graphic design project. The more time you have to create your project the better to allow for the full creative process. Keep in mind that freelancers may work full time jobs and have a limited amount of time to work on your projects. It is also important for you or your staff to be available to respond timely to proofs and keep the project moving forward without delay.
  10. How many edits/changes are included in estimate? This is an important variable when pricing your project. Proofs and changes take time and additional fees can add up quickly. Find out how many are included, what types are included and what the charge is if additional changes are needed beyond the original set amount. To reduce changes and proofs, make sure all of the copy is proofread and have received final approval before sending it to the graphic design stage.
  11. What are payment terms?  Standard industry practice is 50% of the estimated cost at the start of the project and rest upon completion. If a project is larger in scope such as an annual campaign or new branding campaign a three part payment term may be utilized or monthly fees can be determined. If printing or website hosting is required the design is usually expected to be paid in full prior to release. Cost of printing may be required to be paid up front or may have 30 day terms.
  12. What files will you receive at the end of the project? Standard graphic design industry practice is to provide final approved files in high quality print pdf for all printed pieces and jpg, png files for digital projects. Original concepts, working files, software, fonts or limited use stock photography are not released but may be negotiated outside of the original contract dependent on copyright and availability. Often if a file is needed for use in another media graphic designers and design firms will release them if applicable.
  13. Who owns the graphic design copyright? Original logo designs, publications and website designs are applicable to submit for copyright. Some graphic design and advertising firms retain full ownership where others like Connection Group maintains that once you’ve paid in full for the work, you should own it. As mentioned above software, fonts, limited use stock photos, etc. may be subject to copyright by the original creators.
  14. Is printing, writing, editing provided? This is an important question to ask in the beginning. Most design firms can offer printing also but typically do not include it in their design fees. Some firms hand you the electronic files and then have you contract the printing. Same with copy writing and editing as mentioned previously. Make sure everyone knows who is responsible for what stage.
  15. Can the files be used in other formats after the initial order? Often when a clever design solution is created a small business may decide to use it in multiple promotions or create a full ad campaign around it. If files are originally created for the web or online use a complete recreation may be order to meet print resolution requirements. SInce the creative has already been established at this point you are paying for production, not design time so you will still see a savings.  In opposite circumstances, when going from a print design to web, designs may only need to be adjusted to fit online dimensions.
  16. How are additions to the project handled? If part way through the project the customer adds new items, for instance you add a letterhead and brochure to a business design project,  you will want to get additional bids for these pieces and determine time line. Also, if you are foreseeing many edits because a design will be reviewed by a committee, etc. get an idea of expenses up front if possible. Please review caution about edits and changes.

Don’t play the field when it comes to hiring graphic designers.

Once you’ve learned how to hire a graphic designer, sit back and enjoy. A good designer, who really GETS YOU and your business is an important part of your success team. Build loyally, save money, reduce errors and present consistent branding images throughout all of your company marketing, promotions and advertising – in print and online. You’ll enjoy cost savings when you are able to keep your marketing and advertising campaigns with the same design firm. Plus, you’ll avoid costly surprises and know where to find all your files instead of spending time chasing them down each year.

As one of a handful of graphic design companies in Lansing, Michigan area we’ve served a variety of non-profit and for profit clients in the over 17 years in business. We continue to provide graphic design solutions for small businesses and organizations across the United States and Canada. As budgets get tighter, company staff must handle projects they are not trained to manage. We hope this ‘how to hire a graphic designer  checklist’ will be a helpful guide to key personnel who are not familiar with how to hire a graphic designer. Please connect with us today if you have any questions. We appreciate the opportunity to design online and print marketing solutions that connect with your customers.

Stay connected!