One of the questions that I get most often is whether it’s really, really, really necessary to have marketing materials for your small business. Typically when asked, you can tell that the person wants the answer to be ‘no’ because they are worried about the time, effort and cost of having marketing materials designed and created. However, the answer of what kind of marketing materials your business really needs is determined by what type of business you have.
Most of the time, it makes sense for you to have business cards, no matter what kind of business you are running. Everyone from childcare providers to handymen can benefit from having a business card to hand out to potential clients. If you’re talking to someone about your business, they will most likely ask you for your business card. If you don’t have one, it tends to make it look as if you don’t really have an actual business, but just a hobby.
There are many ways to get business cards for your business without spending a ton of dough. If you do a quick google search for ‘business cards’ you’ll come up with hundreds, if not thousands of options. If you’d like personalized business cards made with a special logo designed just for you, there are just as many options of graphic designers.
The next step up from business cards is personalized letterhead and envelopes. Whether you’re sending a letter to introduce your business, an invoice for work completed or a thank you note to a referral source, it is important to have a consistent design with your business cards, letterhead and envelopes. If you’re working in bulk, it definitely makes sense to have your designer work on the letterhead and envelope design at the same time as the business cards. That way, they can get you quotes to have everything printed for you. However, if you only anticipate yourself using less than 100 pieces of letterhead a year for invoices, it may be a better idea to have something designed for you to print off of your home printer as you need it.
Then we move on to the big and intimidating brochure. ooooOOOOHHHHH [that was scary music in case you were wondering] Almost every business out there can benefit from having a well-designed brochure. Notice I said “almost”. There are some businesses that just don’t need an actual printed brochure. Sometimes having a website is a much better option for the work that you do. For example, maybe the industry you work in changes so fast that as soon as you print something it’s already out of date.
For the majority of business though, having a brochure that explains your services can be quite helpful when meeting with potential clients. Not only do you have something that spells out what you can offer them, but if done well it will gave your business the professional image that you need. If you have marketing bucks to spend, please use them to hire a marketing guru and/or graphic designer to create your brochure for you. You are literally handing your contact a little piece of your company’s brand when you give them a brochure. Make sure you get it right!
The last thing you want to do is talk a great game and then hand someone a brochure that you whipped up in Microsoft Word using their vast array of borders, colors and fonts. I don’t care if you really went ‘above and beyond’ by using a specialty font like Comic Sans in addition to your diagonal and underlined ALL CAPS bulleted services you offer, just don’t do it.*
There are many other kinds of printed marketing materials out there and a large business may have a dozen different brochures, a specialized folder for each industry and 10 different promotional items. However, for smaller businesses you can usually get by with the basics. Just make sure that they are well-designed and represent the business that you’ve worked so hard to build.
* For anyone who doesn’t understand the sarcasm in this paragraph, please visit the previous blog post “Creating a Flyer in Microsoft Word Does Not Make You a Graphic Designer”.