Posts Tagged ‘design’

5 Tips For Selecting and Building Your Target Audiences

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012


As a business, you have the ability (and privilege) to select the audiences to whom you sell your goods and services. Here are some factors to consider when selecting your audiences:
  • Do they have money?
  • Are they someone you want to work with? Do they match your aesthetic/philosophy/company mission?
  • Will they withstand fluctuations in the economy? Consider having 3-5 industry focuses.

The best way to get started: survey your customers to find out how you’re doing, what they’d like to see, how you can improve, and more. It’s tough love that will pay off if you make the effort!

Make it easy for potential customers to hear from you: include your e-newsletter signup link on every page of your website, offer something of value (a free report, a book, etc) for people who sign up for your list, hand out comment cards when you give a talk, ask at the time of purchase, or even customize your email footer with a link to sign up for your newsletter.


Educate audiences about your product. Network, host events, give demonstrations, and even offer classes related to your products and services. See more ideas in our blog post, Tips for Surviving the Economy.

Gone are the days when everyone watched the same programs (and commercials) on television. Today’s audiences are incredibly segmented, getting their information and influences from incredibly diverse sources. Trying to reach, well, everyone, therefore, is a nearly impossible task that requires a herculean budget. It’s smarter, more efficient, and lucrative to go after a small chunk of the market. The trick is to go at it full-on, don’t be timid! Communicate your niche to everyone you know!

Business card with tear-off coupon

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

What a cool idea! I just got this in my e-mail today and thought I’d share: tearoffcards

Offered by, they provide a great opportunity to extend special savings to customers or people you meet at networking events. Get creative with the tear-off portion: they could be coupons, poems, samples of your work, quick tips, or even a fill in the blank “We met at _________event.”

The perspiration of inspiration: tips to get the ideas flowing

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Perhaps when I’m retired I’ll have the luxury of letting inspiration come to me naturally: sipping espresso in a sidewalk cafe and watching people bustle by, strolling museums and taking in the great works, or rummaging through family heirlooms in the attic.

But the reality is, I’m a working graphic artist, and my clients can’t afford to wait with the clock ticking while I siphon inspiration from day-to-day activities. So I’ve developed a process to get things moving. And while I don’t try everything every time, these creative jump starts are great to select from as I stare at the blank page in front of me:

  • Start with words. Brainstorm similes and metaphors for the concept/idea you are presenting. Expand the list to include words that express the personality of the project, colors, shapes, cliches associated with it. Be expansive at first, then go back through and highlight the words that BEST express the idea. Use those as your guide.
  • Brainstorm images. Start with sketching many of the words you listed earlier. Play with ways to show those ideas visually. Don’t try to design anything. Just make a lot of sloppy marks on the paper to act as placeholders for ideas.
  • Research images. Go online now and use Google Images to look up images that correspond to words on your original list. You’ll be surprised how many more ideas this will give you. For example, say you look up the word “cake”. You’ll expect to find lots of images of birthday cakes, cake slices, cupcakes. . .right? But you may be surprised to see something like a rice cake. Or the band, “Cake”. Print out images that surprise you or convey an idea really well. Take note of colors that are commonly used in association with the images.
  • Research your competition. Take note of the traditional colors, fonts, images, and designs of your client’s competitors. You’ll want to know the competition well if you want to create something that sets your client apart.
  • Research fonts. Visit font sites online or use your own software to investigate font choices. Type in your client’s name and preview how it looks in different fonts. Take note of and print our your favorites.
  • Review design annuals, art books, historical resources. If you know you want to work in a certain style, this can give you a good baseline for the elements that go into it. Sketch variations on elements you like. Keep your sketches loose to make the ideas your own.
  • Create an inspiration board. Now that you’ve collected words, images, colors, and sketches, get them up on a board or wall in front of you. Organize them into chunks that make sense to you.
  • Create thumbnails. Referencing your inspiration board, create tiny layout sketches that suggest elements of the design. Create dozens of these, then go back and select the ones you think will work the best. Flesh out these top ideas in a larger format and include more detail. Play around with adding colors and simulating the fonts.

Have your own sources of inspiration? Share them with us, we’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below.

Email Stationery

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

As our communications shift more and more from paper to digital, I’m finding that clients are wanting more sophisticated, branded emails to use for their day to day communications. While html newsletters are a good bet for formatting, they are impractical for person to person communication. Simply adding a gif of your logo by your signature works too, but what if you want something a little more polished?

Well, recently I discovered that Outlook (for PC) and Mail (for Macs) have a “save as stationery” function. While not perfect, it can allow you to format your email as you like it, then save it as stationery. Later, when you compose a new email, you can apply your custom design at the click of a button. Or, select from one of their own stationery shells. Here’s a link I found on setting it up in Outlook: How to Create Email Stationery Easily in Outlook Express Step by Step Screenshot Walkthrough – About Email.

All of this is well and good, but a warning: just as the ability of Word users to access fancy fonts resulted in a proliferation of Papyrus-laced monstrosities, we must all take care to use restraint with new technology. If you brand your emails, observe the fonts, colors, and design element conventions set up by your designer. And as always, ask yourself if less would be more: most people are anxious to read their emails for pertinent content and move on to the next task.

A good use for email stationery: initial contacts with clients or official requests for a business-related item through email.

Happy emailing!

Here’s an addendum to the original article:

I recently received an email wrapped in a stationery. I did some research and discovered that they went through this service: They charge $5/month for the service. All emails go through them, but you retain your email address. If you choose to use this service, please—I BEG you!—keep it simple: a basic header designed professionally by your own designer. Keep your brand consistent and uncluttered. Email should have the primary function of being used for communication.