I got my first piece of hate mail from a graphic designer this past weekend.
To be honest, I expected the angry emails to start rolling in as soon as I started this blog back on January 2, 2010. I’m grateful it has taken this long.
The person who wrote didn’t sign his/her name, and didn’t leave a return email address (they used my email address instead).
That’s a shame, because I would have liked to have had a civilized discussion with him/her.
So I’m going to reply here to set the record straight, just in case he/she is not the only person confused about what I’m doing here at Big Brand System.
I don’t hate designers — I am one
The email opens with the accusation that I “hate designers.” That would be tough: I have been a designer and marketing consultant for over 25 years.
I don’t hate designers, I am one.
The experience of working with clients of all sizes over all these years has taught me one important lesson: good design can transform your business.
When your marketing materials are well designed, it has a ripple effect:
- You feel better about sharing them, so you get out there and market your business with more energy.
- Your prospects find your materials easy to understand, and easy on the eyes, so you convert more of them to customers.
- Your customers trust your business and refer others to it because of its perceived quality.
I’ve learned something else, too. Not everyone can afford to hire a designer. Especially at first.
Everyone deserves to benefit from good design, even when they need to do it themselves
The truth is, not everyone can hire a graphic designer. There are lots of reasons:
- They may be starting out, and they simply can’t afford it.
- Some of their materials need to look good and do the job, but don’t need to be professionally designed.
- They may not understand the first thing about working with a designer, including how to ask for what they want.
That’s why I believe every small business owner should understand the basics of good design. It empowers them to do some of their own work.
And when they do hire a designer, it makes them a more informed (and easier to work with) client.
The professional design process isn’t right for every project
My letter writer’s beef was with the wording in the Ultimate eBook Kickstart webinar I created.
In that webinar, we talk about how working with a designer to create your ebook can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, take more time than you may have to spend on it, and result in files that you most likely can’t modify yourself.
That is the truth. My letter writer might not like it, but that’s the way it is.
That being said, there are times that working with a designer for your ebook might be a perfect fit.
- If you have a healthy budget and don’t want to bother putting together pages yourself, hire a designer.
- If you have time to communicate what you’re looking for, approve layouts and review the final draft carefully, hire a designer.
- If your ebook is targeting a discerning audience (like designers or artists), hire a designer.
It’s important to recognize, though, that a good-sized portion of small business owners aren’t in a position to hire a designer.
Does that mean they don’t deserve to benefit from well-designed marketing materials?
Of course not.
And that, dear readers, is exactly why I do what I do here at Big Brand System.
I empower you so you can do some of this work by yourself. I inspire you to get design and marketing working together to grow your business.
A good client is an informed client
Over the years I have been approached by many small business owners who needed my help, and couldn’t afford to hire me.
They wouldn’t have made good clients. And it wasn’t because they didn’t have a budget.
When you’re a designer, working with someone who has never worked with a professional designer before can be frustrating. Here’s why:
- You have to educate them about what design can do for their business.
- They don’t understand why things cost what they do.
- They often have difficulty expressing what they want, which results in the designer having to generate idea after idea because “they’ll know it when they see it.”
When a client has learned the basics of design, they’re easier to work with. They know a good idea when they see it, because they understand what makes a well-designed piece.
And they also know how valuable design is, which means they understand the benefits a professional designer brings to a project.
One of my “secret” goals here at Big Brand System is for small business owners to “graduate” to a point that they can afford to hire a professional.
When they do, they make great clients.
Many Big Brand System readers are designers
A significant portion of Big Brand System readers are graphic designers.
If you had told me designers would read this blog when I first started writing it, I wouldn’t have believed you. (Remember, I expected hate mail from designers by the end of the first week.)
It turns out that designers enjoy reading what I write because I talk about marketing basics as well.
I’ve spoken to some of my designer readers, and they tell me that they like reading the marketing articles, because they know I’m writing from a designer’s perspective. And they enjoy reading the design articles, because “it’s always good to remember the basics.”
Welcome one and all
This post is my official “rolling out of the welcome mat” to graphic designers everywhere.
When those small business owners with no budget and no experience working with a designer approach you for help, let them know they’re welcome here.
I’ll show them the basics, and educate them so they become awesome clients for your studio someday.
And maybe you’ll stick around and join the other designers who read Big Brand System, too. 🙂
PS: I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, but I want to say one thing up front: I’m not upset about the email at all. I think the writer was confused. This post was written to clear things up.
So share your thoughts, but let’s keep the tone respectful, OK?