Your small to medium sized business is growing or changing. Or, more likely, you need it to grow or change. Assume, if you will, that you need a new website or brochure. Do you view your new brochure or website as an asset that will add value to your company and corporate image and, if properly crafted, enhance your bottom line? Or, do you see this as a cost that you have to spend and that only subtracts from the bottom line? There is a huge difference in perspective. And both types of people are easy to identify.
Entrepreneurs view the cost to create and produce a new marketing piece as an investment that will enhance their bottom line and generate a significant Return on Investment (ROI). These people are forward thinking and plan to spend a certain amount of each dollar they bring in to invest in their future business. They believe in their ability use their marketing materials to grow their business.
Entrepreneurs would also never consider putting their own materials together. Most recognize that they are not artists or designers and that they would only hurt themselves with less than professional work representing their company. This sort of person has a clear idea of what they want to communicate and how they are going to use the piece. For them, it isn't so much the cost of the brochure or website but the value that it brings to the business that is important. The costs will be recouped with a few sales. And a good marketing piece or campaign will generate multiple sales and enhance the company's image, adding value many times over.
If you simply view design services as a cost that eats up the bottom line then you are likely not focused on its long-term benefits and value. A lot of the people in this mindset will try to put together their own brochure using Microsoft Word and a few pieces of clip-art (or no art). They will show up at Kinko's and have them printed on the cheapest paper they can find. They never consider the impact that this leaves with their customers. And in the long-run they fail to develop a significant brand image or following.
If they do come to the realization that they need help it always comes down to money - not quality and effectiveness. But effective marketing is the life-blood of any successful company, and this is even more true for the small to medium size enterprise. Without effective marketing sales slump and when this happens companies tend become price oriented, selling for the slimmest margins they can while trying to increase volume. Everything is about price and "the big sale". It happens even to large companies - GM comes to mind. In the seventies they began selling on price to compete with the Japanese imports. They forgot about quality and value. Lowest-price marketing rarely engenders brand loyalty. GM lost a huge portion of their brand loyalty by making this decision. In the end this is a dangerous game, especially for the small to medium sized business. There are always exceptions, of course. Walmart sells price but has developed loyalty. But Walmart is the exception. Not the rule.
Companies that are perceived as adding value and that have developed a loyal following will flourish even in tough economic circumstances. Creating a brand, however small, or regional, is like an insurance policy in a difficult economy.
For small to medium sized businesses to flourish they have to distinguish themselves in a way that adds value. Adding value is what every piece of effective marketing strives to do for your company. And, as we all know, without effective marketing for the small and medium sized company ... extinction happens!
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