And most importantly: stick to it.
Ask yourself: Am I spending more to promote than I’m making in sales? If you are, then you’re probably spending too much. Only you can decide the right amount, but be smart. Check around and get quotes from three or four vendors if you’re having promotional items printed.
Graphic design has been part of my professional life for so many years that I take it for granted most days, but it taught me to shop around for prices. You could spend $30 at your local office center, or you could get 250 for free and just pay for shipping through www.VistaPrint.com. Your local office center will yield laser copies that look like you printed them yourself, or Vista Print looks as good as expensive off-set printing … it just takes 10 days to get them. To me, quality is everything. I’m absolutely unwilling to scrimp on quality, so that means that I adjust my time and input expectations.
For other print work, I use a friend of mine who I’ve known and worked with for over a dozen years. Back in the day, we both worked for Nortel Networks (pre-dot com bust). I worked on an international IT marketing team and he ran the international print shop. After the dust settled in the new milennium, we found our way back to one another. I brought them in to do all of the printing when I was the Marketing Director for North Carolina’s largest performing arts theatre, and later when I worked as the Public Affairs Officer for an agency working with individuals living with HIV/AIDS … and several points in between, as a freelance graphic artist. The company is Make An Impression, and Jim Joseph runs his own shop that runs laser prints, binds books (in a wide array of cool bindery options), designs a wide variety of promotional items, and best yet … collaborates with an off-press four-color printer when the print job and/or budget necessitates it.
Take good advice when someone in the promotions business offers it, or when you run across a really cool or compelling piece of marketing or promotional item, take the time to tell them how much you like it. And then ask them who designed and produced it. It’s flattering for them, and cunning for you.
APPLY WHAT YOU LEARN … AND MOVE ON
I understand that it can seem a little intimidating, but it’s not rocket science. Most of good promoting and marketing is just common sense. Think about what draws you to a product, or an author or book—and what drives you away—and figure out a way to apply it to YOU. If something works, keep it in your bag of tricks; if it doesn’t, toss it and don’t do it again. Good luck.