10 June 2010

Beware buy it cheap, buy it twice

This wise old adage may seem redundant in today's throwaway society but we think it still offers some valuable lessons in the design and marketing world.

As marketing budgets continue to shrink and all talk is of even harder times ahead, the temptation to scour the market for the cheapest solution is inevitable, but we believe that when it comes to design, working closely with good designers and careful planning are better ways to maximise your budget:

Know where you're going.

You need to have the internal focus right before you can brief an external supplier. All branding and marketing should be steering an organisation towards its long-term vision rather than just meeting short-term needs. This gives branding and communications a longer shelf life and makes them more effective. Quick fix solutions are always tempting but are not the best way to tell the bigger picture about your organisation.

Learn from past mistakes.

Plan carefully to ensure that communications tell the right message to the right people at the right time. Do an audit of materials produced over the past year. What worked and what didn't. Don't just produce things because 'we always do'. Can one new communication replace three? Must it be printed? Or, if you really do need three, can they be printed up together to save on print costs. A few well thought out, targeted, relevant, well designed pieces will be more effective than lots of unfocussed, cheaply produced ones that end up straight in the recycling bin.

Get your designers problem solving.

Tell them what you want to achieve and invite their input on formats and content as well as layout and design. Ask them to suggest smart solutions to save money in production and distribution. Don't be over prescriptive or limit their creativity - rather than tell them you need an A4 8-page brochure let them propose solutions. Consider new technologies and distribution methods - can it be emailed or available as a PDF download? Does it really need to go into an envelope for mailing or can it be designed to negate that need? Perhaps a powerful single colour piece would have more impact than a 4-colour one? Be open to their suggestions.

Pick our brains.

Draw on your designer's industry knowledge. At Howdy we really understand print and production from presses to paper sizes and how jobs are planned up that means we can plan jobs economically to minimise waste. Some papers bulk up more than others so they appear thicker but are lighter in weight useful to know when considering mailing costs. A few millimetres trimmed off an edge could save a lot on mailing costs.

And finally, the ultimate false economy

Free-pitching may seem a good idea after all you get lots of work for nothing, but do you really get what you didn[t pay for? Putting a job out to many companies as a free pitch may yield lots of exciting glossy options, but can they really reflect your organisation and its future vision? The fact is that a free job will always be at the bottom of the pile behind the fee paying jobs in any design studio, so even if you get something you think is OK just imagine how good it could have been if you[d paid them to give it real time and effort. Find a designer or design group you respect and trust enough to pay them for their time and you[ll get the right design solution without the wasted time - after all, time is money.