For design firms, maintaining an ongoing promotions program is essential to new business development. The challenge is finding a mix of activities (such as personal selling, advertising, publicity and public relations) that best communicates with your target market. Here's a list of the most common components for graphic design firms:
No doubt you've already developed a great visual identity for your firm and the first application of it was on your stationery. Now you need to carry through and practice what we all preach to clients about comprehensive branding. Make sure that you expand the basic elements into a flexible system that gives consistency to all the different promotional materials that you will produce.
Capabilities / case studies
The classic marketing tool for creative firms used to be a four-color, glossy capabilities brochure. It took a lot of time and money to produce. When completed, it become obsolete almost immediately because it was impossible to update. Most design firms now use a modular approach, with separate sheets for each major creative category or client industry. This involves selecting only the most compelling project in each major category and presenting it as a case study with key visuals and captions. A good approach is to briefly describe the client's initial business need or communications challenge, then describe the process that you went through to develop the most appropriate solution. Then, whenever possible, quantify the results by describing the impact that your work had on the client's business.
Web site / interactive projects
Again, it's a good idea to prepare an overview of the project using only key information and visuals. From there, a prospective client can dive into the full project if they are interested and have the time. Place success stories on your Web site, rather than just a list of hyperlinks. If someone follows a link for a project that you completed some time ago, they might encounter a site that has changed considerably and no longer resembles what you delivered.
Demo reel of motion graphics
If your firm does motion graphics, you'll have no problem selecting a great assortment of clips. The challenge is to bring them together in a clean, simple framework that is a clear extension of your own identity, both in the format for the onscreen introductory graphics and the appearance of the external packaging.
Many creative firms mail out promotional materials several times a year. If you are doing large mailings, it makes sense to produce small, inexpensive materials such as postcards that feature recent projects. That way you can save any complex, expensive materials for personal selling efforts. Developing a mailing list is a challenge in and of itself. More on this in part two.
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