Why every entrepreneur and small business should learn about design

This guest post is written by Deborah Gruenberger, Founder of Training Made Visual, providers of bespoke creative courses for startups. Here Deborah shares her tips for creating marketing materials with a small budget.  

Last month, I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of people at Net.Works about my favourite topic: Empowering start-ups and small businesses to create amazing marketing material. For those of you who missed it, here is a little insight into what we discussed.

There was a time when only big corporations cared to invest in their branding and marketing material. A small business or start-up did not spend much time worrying about those things, and they also didn’t need to. But today, this is no longer the case.

The toilet brush example

We live in a design focused society. Think about your own home for a minute, and compare it to that of your grandparents or parents back when you were a child. Let’s take the bathroom as an example. Did your grandma ever think or care about what her toilet brush looked like? Did your mum? What about you? Chances are that, when kitting out your home, you have spent time looking at toilet brushes and you have bought a nice one with a cool handle or a shiny bowl. It might only have cost £5 or even less, but I bet it looks nice. 

Why am I starting an article about promotional material by talking about toilet brushes? Because it proves a simple point: In a society where even the toilet brush needs to look good, surely your marketing material needs to look good, too. You can no longer get away with producing a flyer in Microsoft Word, or drawing your own logo in PowerPoint. People are used to seeing beautiful things everywhere. They have come to expect it. Your potential clients or investors will not take you seriously if your branding doesn’t look attractive.


A design driven society

One of the many reasons why we have become so obsessed with design, is that we are overstimulated with data. The moment you wake up and switch on your smart phone you are bombarded with advertisements, posts, news and banners. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email… and that is before you even got out of bed! Studies reveal that we receive about 105,000 words in a day, or 23 words per second in half a day.  That is before you add images and video to the data. So we are literally being bombarded.

Try this today: Go to your own private Facebook page and post a joke or a comment. Then post something similar, but this time with a picture. You will see that the amount of likes you get will be much, much higher on the post with the picture. That’s because 90% of information reaching our brain is visual. So if you wonder how you can make sure that your message gets noticed in today’s information jungle, then the answer is by using good, powerful design.

The good news

When you go out there networking or promoting your business, it doesn’t matter whether you have a fancy office in an expensive post code or whether you work from your garden shed. Your customer’s first impression of you is that stunning business card with the cool logo that you put into their hands and the beautiful, well-designed website you invite them to visit.

And that’s great news. Because nowadays, there is no reason why your website can’t look just as good as that of the leading companies in your industry. 


Budget and time restraints

If you have just started your business, or you work for a small company then you are constantly battling with budget and time constraints. You might recognize the need for good design, but you probably can’t afford to hire a professional designer for every little promo banner and flyer. And often you need things done very quickly and there is no time to commission a pro.

Here’s a solution you might never have considered: Learn some design skills yourself. I am not suggesting that you get a four year degree in graphic design. But you would be amazed how much you can learn in a 1/2 day workshop or a  one day course. Not enough to turn yourself into a designer – I would be insulting my profession if I made such a claim — but enough to take on some of the simpler work yourself. Ideally, you would have the template designed by a professional, but then you can learn how to update and follow the look and feel of that template yourself.

This strategy works incredibly well for social media banners, advertisements, newsletter, press releases, invitations, websites, email campaigns and much more. Think how many more promotions you could run and how much further your marketing budget could stretch if you had those skills. It’s an investment that will pay itself back a hundred times.

Training Made Visual

Training Made Visual can help you learn those skills with our affordable scheduled workshops or a bespoke course just for yourself or your team. All courses are tailored so that you walk out with exactly what yo need to get started straight away. We can even create your first banner or advert together right there on the course, so you can walks out with a finished product.

For more information visit www.trainingmadevisual.co.uk. Or feel free to contact me to get feedback on your current material and to brainstorm how you could do more: [email protected]

Deborah will be hosting another workshop at Net.Works. soon – email [email protected] for more info or keep an eye on our Facebook page.

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