Recently, I worked with "Sarah," an hebalist who asked me to review a "corporate identity" proposal she received from a graphics artist. The proposal was for $9,000 to create a logo, business cards, brochure, letterhead and other collateral materials. That's a lot of money, but the bigger issue for Sarah was whether she knew herself enough to give the graphics artist the details needed to clearly and precisely create her marketing materials.
After a few email exchanges and an hour consultation with me, Sarah concluded that she needed to identify exactly who she was as an herbalist and entrepreneur before spending money on graphics materials. In other words, Sarah had to create her brand in her own mind before an artist could give life to it. Here are some of the things Sarah and I talked about, along with some tips to help you avoid spending a ton of money on marketing materials before you first, know thyself.
1. Do you have $9,000?
For Sarah, the short answer was no. The quick lesson here is to shop around for services. I know talented graphics artists who would do the same work in Sarah's proposal for less than half the cost she was quoted. Of course even a nominal sum is too much to spend if you don't know who you are first.
2. What is your target market?
It was clear that more work needed to be done to nail down who Sarah's marketing materials would be aimed at. A logo targeted to adult women in general would be very different from one aimed women with young children.
3. Are you the corporate identity?
A graphics artist can give color, depth and texture to a brand by creating materials that clearly reflect its core values, image and goals. But if you are an Indie, the brand may actually be you. In Sarah's case, she one day hopes to have a line of herbal products but for now, she is marketing herself as a teacher, speaker and consultant who can help people use common herbs to enhance their health. Sarah is the brand, which means her best logo is free and already attached to her body!
I recommended that Sarah dispense with logo creation for now and run straight to the nearest professional photographer, makeup artist and hair stylist for a set of head shots. Glossy color business cards with a message about who Sarah is and how to engage her services would serve her well and allow her to spend money on things she really needs right now.
4. What to do next?
Sarah is almost finished authoring a book about using herbs and she is fielding speaking requests for herb related events and has been asked to give a class at a local community college. I suggested that she set a goal of publishing the book and launching the blog by the end of the year, and in the meantime, continue working with clients one-on-one and speaking and teaching.
I estimate Sarah's financial investment over the next 4 months:
- head shot sitting and digitized high res photos: $1,500
- business card design: $250
- business card printing: 1,000 for about $50
- blogging program: under $30
Total financial investment: $1,830. Double this because "there's always something," and Sarah should be able to launch no later than January 1, 2008, having spent far less than half what she was quoted by the graphics artist.
Sarah already has a digital camera, a must if you are going to launch a blog. I suggested that she read my Blogging For Business Tutorials as a way to get started with hers. Her business cards will equip her with everything she needs for in person appearances and networking and a well designed blog will help her establish herself and gain credibility with the media and industry colleagues.
Do you have a "first, know thyself" story? If so, feel free to share your experiences and comments here!