It might seem as though the world has moved entirely online, but face-to-face interactions still involve exchanging business cards. Posting a letter still requires a letterhead and small business marketing still requires flyers and other printed collateral. In short, creating effective promotional materials still rates a place on the to-do list for most small business operators.
You have plenty of affordable options for designing and printing your own quality small business marketing materials, and I'll outline them in this article. Let's get to it.
Get a Logo
If your business doesn't have a logo, go get one. Don’t even think about creating your marketing materials until you have a company logo. If you're looking for an inexpensive option, try LogoMaker where you can create a logo for Web use for free.
Figure 1: Create your own custom logo using a range of design elements at Logomaker.com.
A high-resolution copy of your logo that's suitable for printing costs a one-time fee of $49.00. LogoMaker's simple interface walks you through the process of creating your logo. You can even test alternative designs until you decide on the one you want.
Do-It-Yourself with Desktop Publishing Software
Desktop publishing (DTP) software is an affordable way to create your own small business marketing materials because it usually comes with software that you already own. For example, most Microsoft Office editions include Microsoft Publisher, making it an obvious choice for creating marketing materials.
Figure 2: Microsoft Publisher contains a range of templates to help design your small business marketing project.
Publisher comes with a range of built-in templates and design sets for everything from business cards to flyers. Just add your business information to these pre-designed templates and send the resulting publication directly to your office printer.
There are other free and inexpensive alternatives to Publisher and these include Serif Page Plus, which is available as a free download. Upgrade to the paid version, and you get more templates and other features. If you're looking for an open source DTP option, try Scribus.
Adobe InDesign sits at the high-end of the price curve. You get it as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud Connect subscription, which costs $49.99 per month. You can use all of these DTP programs to create and print business cards, flyers, letterhead, brochures and other marketing collateral in-house.
Sourcing High-quality Marketing Templates
You don't have to use a DTP program to design your small business marketing materials; you could use a word processor like Microsoft Word. However, if you plan to use Word you might appreciate some design help. Paper suppliers, such as Hewlett Packard and Avery, provide free and for-fee templates you can use to make and print your own marketing collateral. You will find templates at HP's Creative Studio.
Figure 3: HP Creative Studio offers free, downloadable Word templates for various small business marketing projects.
There you can search by the type of marketing material, such as postcards, flyers, or business cards—or by your industry, such as Medical or Non Profit. The search results include a range of free, downloadable print-in-house designs. They're formatted as Microsoft Word templates; you can use them in Word or any in program that supports Word format files, and Avery offers a similar selection of free templates.
Your Local Print Shop
Some local print shops can take the content that you designed in Publisher and other DTP software and print your small business marketing materials for you. If you plan to do this, check what file formats your copy shop accepts before you spend a lot of time designing something they can't support or that they have to recreate before they can print.
Online services such as Vistaprint or OvernightPrints offer another alternative for printing small business marketing materials. These services provide a range of template designs you can use, or you can create your own design and upload it to the website. The company then prints your materials and ships them to you.
While this isn't an instant solution, you get high-quality results and online printing may be a cost effective solution if you factor in wear and tear on your printer, the cost of consumables and the time you spend printing your own materials.
The market for online printing is very competitive, and prices can vary a lot. It's worth looking around for a good deal on the type of materials you want printed.
Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. You can learn more about her at her Web site, HelenBradley.com
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