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Are Networks like DIY and HGTV Hurting Professionals Outside the Design Industry?

Whether you’re spending your evenings watching Design on a Dime or This Old House, it seems that most everyone I know has caught the home improvement television bug. Certainly the traffic at Lowe’s and Home Depot supports this budding interest. Despite what you my think, my interior design and decorating clients tell me that all this sudden interest is actually great for their business. What most enthusiastic home decorators quickly learn is that they have neither the skill nor the patience for tackling those projects that look so simple on TV and so they quickly turn to a professional.

Interestingly enough, these same people who are hiring professionals to update their homes can’t seem to put away their DIY attitude when it comes to promoting their business and it pains me to see what this ends up costing them.

Designing Your Own Logo

Logo design can be an extremely complicated process.  While there are some really neat tools out there to help you start the job yourself, I think most businesses should ultimately invest in a professional designer. Nonetheless I continue to encounter professionals who balk at the idea that their corporate identity could cost them somewhere between $300 and $3000. Instead these high paid professionals (many of them who bill in excess of $200/hour) willingly spend half their day fiddling with a pseudo-design application to come up with a mediocre idea.

4 hours x $200/hour = $800

Better idea: Spend an hour looking at on-line portfolios or with a DIY tool them hire a pro to complete the job.

1 hour x $200/hour + 4 hours x $100/hour = $600 and a much better looking logo! 

Printing Your Own Marketing Materials

Dell is making a killing on ink cartridges when these same folks decide that print on demand is an easy substitute for traditional offset. You’ll recognize them when you go to a professional association meeting and they pass you a business card that has perforations on the edge. They may have even paid big bucks to design the card but cut corners (literally) by printing it at home.

4 color cartridges x $75/each = $300 + 1 box perforated business card stock x $30 = $330

Plus time spent printing the cards minus business lost because you look cheap = $????

Better Idea: Send your cards to a local printer who is hungry for your business and wants you to be happy. Perhaps you even met him at that networking event.

1000 4-color process business cards printed on 100# coated cover ~ $175

Order Your Printing On-line

When they figure out how much ink cartridges really cost (ask my buddies at Cartridge World), exploring on-line gang-run printing businesses makes sense. Unfortunately this is still treacherous water as many people don’t understand enough about the advantages of digital vs. off-set printing to know which process is best for their particular need. It’s painful to see these folks take beautifully (and often professionally designed) pieces and have them butchered by some cheap on-line service.

Solution: Start by ordering only simple pieces from on-line services. Like business cards and envelopes. Pick a service that allows you to specify your PMS color, permits your designer to upload files in multiple design formats (Microsoft Publisher is not a design application) and has a phone number on their website where you can call if you have questions.

Replacing Your PR Firm

Keith Ferrazzi (in one of my favorite books, Never Eat Lunch Alone) proclaims that all business owners should do their own PR because nobody knows their business better. While I agree with his point the reality is that most successful business owners do not have the time or know-how to call down on reporters, analysts and bloggers to make their pitch.

Does this mean they shouldn’t try to talk to the press? Absolutely not, they should just get some help planning, messaging and pre-pitching and then make themselves readily available for those timely interview opportunities.

I see fewer DIYers in the PR space and more executives who think that if they pay their PR firm enough, it will just happen. Not true. PR is a partnership. Companies with the most successful PR campaigns are those that make themselves available for interviews and are open to talking about their business. How do they find time? I suspect these are the same folks who let somebody else design their logo and order their printing. 🙂

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