When it comes to “do it yourself” (DIY) marketing, many business owners and leaders count on members of their team, some who may have been trained in public relations (PR), marketing, writing and design, or others who are just eager to try creating some marketing or communications content.
While this can be an effective strategy, often times the results pale in comparison to what the owner may have had in mind.
So, I am here to share with you the challenges of DIY work in many of the areas that the professional team from Logos Communications handles every day, as well the value when you turn to outside assistance from an agency like ours.
For this exercise we will look more closely at two areas – design and photography. Certainly, outsourcing writing (say for a blog like this or social media) is also sometimes a DIY challenge but for now let’s zero in on these examples and from them glean a bit of valuable advice.
To do or not to do
That is in fact the question. I can’t tell you how many times business owners tell us they want to do their own social media, or blog writing or e-mail marketing or graphic design, and then are unable to actually make that happen.
What then sometimes happens is they turn to someone on staff. If you have a trained marketing team you may have someone with design, photography or writing skills, but more likely they have a broader strategic background and know how to plan and execute that effort and need help with the tactical work that needs to be done.
If you decide to design it yourself (another DIY) there are tools out there to help you such as Canva or Adobe Spark. Both use templates, and that is helpful, but instead of a fresh design, your team will be using the same designs, fonts and themes that others turn to as well.
Now this isn’t all bad, but hiring a professionally trained graphic designer, one who knows about font hierarchy, style sheets and selection, and color processes (RGB and CMYK, for example), is going to give you greater latitude and flexibility to meet your specific needs.
Sure I get it, if you are posting on social media and you want a quick meme or two, the DIY approach may work in the short run (or grabbing memes from various web sources). But in the long run, you need to think about your brand, and it’s highly unlikely that Spark or Canva will help convey your specific brand requirements.
Do not forget your brand
So, let’s pause here and remember that brand identity is critical to how you reach people through your designs. If your brand is playful and fun, an off-the-shelf solution might help, but what if you are a high-end legal company with a formal approach to business? Finding what you need from these sources becomes problematic for sure.
Trained designers will focus on your brand and help develop a consistent style that is effective at producing results – engaging your clients and potential clients in a relationship that is mutually beneficial.
Professional designers are not as expensive as you might think, though there is certainly a cost to hiring ones like those at Logos. It’s not to say that the world we live in hasn’t evolved to where low-cost or even free tools can be beneficial even to those individuals who are trying to meet your needs. It’s more a manner of maintaining a high level of design across all aspects of your brand, and doing so week after week, month after month.
Capturing a visual that stands out
Besides skills in showcasing your brand, professional designs will provide a result that is beyond simple or even amateurish. It may take a little time to product the result you want, but a professional designer will work closely with you to understand what you are after, and execute it at a high level.
Obviously, design and visual style go hand in hand, as does the artwork itself. Do you want an illustration? Would you be happy with stock art or unique photography? How will you decide and then make it happen in a cost-effective way?
Since visual elements these days are often based on templates and themes (think Powerpoint’s theme choices) it’s easy to forget that creating original art, especially your own photography, is still very important, especially if you want to stand out and not look like every other company who has an administrative assistant or intern trying to help you create something in-house.
Photography is about more than technology
When it comes to photography the cell phone has changed the landscape for sure. But keep in mind that photography is not simply about the camera and the size of the mega-pixels. It’s also about resonating with the viewer.
Photography, like design, is also about having a good eye, being trained in technical aspects to best understand lighting, composition, depth-of-field and vantage point. Even though a good smart phone can compensate for some of these challenges through its technology, the use of the image or images must also be carefully considered. What is needed for a social media post at a live event, for example, is far different than the kind (and quality) of images you might need for a branded sales guide or company brochure.
I’ve seen plenty of amazing cell phone photos – the companies often tout these great results in their commercials, but guess what? Those commercials were designed, photographed, and created by highly trained professionals. You want your stuff to look like what Apple says you can do on your own? Sure, it’s possible, but more than likely you need a professional.
So when it comes to doing it yourself versus hiring someone to help, let’s remember that cost isn’t the only issue. You must also consider the cost to your team – if they are the ones helping – as well as the time investment, the tools you may need (not all design tools are free – think Photoshop) and the results you want.
Don’t get me wrong, there are wonderfully creative people in most organizations. But next time you consider doing it on your own, carefully evaluate what that may mean inside your company, whether budget, people, results and maintaining all of that over the importance of your brand and products.