By Gina Morin, Design Intervention
Do you have a logo, website or marketing materials that you need to be created? Maybe you aren't sure if you should do it yourself or hire a professional? There are many ways to get that project done, but how you do it depends on your creative needs, your budget, and how much time you have. Let's start by looking at the three main ways you can execute your creative project.
You might be on a tight budget and feel you want full creative control over the project. If that's the case, a DIY solution might be your best option. This involves using free or low-cost tools available online or applications already on your computer to create your marketing materials.
Customer Service: If you are using a free/low-cost service to create designs yourself, you might not get access to any customer service. You typically have to upgrade to a paid service to get some customer support. Although, if you are tech-savvy, this might not be an obstacle for you.
Cost: For those just starting out with little or no money dedicated to marketing, this could work for you, but while your out-of-pocket expenses might be low, it will cost you time. If you have the motivation to dig in and you can dedicate some time to working through any tech or design obstacles, go for it.
Working with an Agency
Agencies have large creative and strategic teams with beautiful client meeting spaces and multiple people working on your project. Agency size and client requirements vary, but it's possible they may only take on clients with large budgets and big projects.
Customer Service: You most likely will work with a friendly project manager that will communicate your needs to the designers, programmers or writers and they will handle every aspect of the project for you and will be able to answer all of your questions along the way.
Creativity: Because there are so many creative professionals involved in your project, you will be getting original artwork, content, and strategic marketing strategies to help you reach your goals.
Cost: This will be your most expensive option, but if your creative needs require a large team and your budget allows for it, this is the way to go. If you have on-going, complex marketing needs, this is when an agency would really be able to help you.
Working with an Independent Creative/Freelancer
This is a solo professional that works one-on-one with their clients. Experience can vary, but many independents have years of experience either working at an Agency or in-house at a large company. This is usually a good solution for small businesses that don't need a full-time designer in-house but don't have the time to create their designs or don't have the budget for an Agency. This is also a good solution for businesses that might have an in-house art or marketing department and need someone to help with overflow.
Customer Service: Independent Professionals work closely with their clients. They ask lots of questions to arrive a creative solution to help you meet your goals and usually take on a limited number of clients so that they can allow for that one-on-one time to walk their clients through the process.
Creativity: Because design quality can vary among freelancers, be sure to ask about their experience, look at their work and get referrals from other business owners. Experienced designers will not be order takers. They will take you through a creative brief to arrive at the best design strategy for you and create you an original brand that best represents who you are.
Cost: While working with a Creative Professional will be more expensive than the DIY solution, they will save you the time of doing it yourself. They also have little overhead, so their costs typically come in less than a large Agency.
How do you decide?
Every business has different marketing needs. You need to decide what's best for you, but the biggest lesson here is to take action. Don't go years without creating a real logo or web presence for yourself and risk the possibility of not reaching your clients because you procrastinated over how you were going to get it done.
If you've been stalling on your marketing, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I too busy to learn how to use a DIY Solution?
- Am I spending too much time trying to make a website when I could be making sales in my business instead?
- Is having original artwork critical to the growth of my brand?
- Does my project have many moving parts that require the assistance of a large team?
- How much business am I losing because I don't have a professional brand, logo or web presence yet?
- Do I need to build a one-on-one relationship with a freelancer I can call on as projects arise or if my in-house team gets overwhelmed?
How your brand is perceived by your potential clients speaks volumes about who you are as a business. Whatever direction you choose, be sure it looks professional and represents the quality of products or services you provide.