How to stretch your graphic design budget

With profit margins shrinking, the cost of printing sky rocketting, and an ever more competitive and fickle market, small businesses are finding it harder to carve out a budget for their graphic design needs. If you find yourself in this predicament, should you even bother approaching a graphic design agency for a quote?
The first step is to determine just what your graphic design budget is, no matter how small. Remember that in today’s visual world, if you are not seen, you might as well not be there!
The next step is to sit down with the estimator of a graphic design agency and thrash out exactly what you can get out of that budget. If they are worth their salt, instead of throwing up their hands or laughing in your face, they will try and find a way of adjusting your needs so that you can still come away with some beautiful, effective media (albeit downscaled).
Targeted media strategy
One way that this can be done is to encourage you to research which promotional items are appreciated and used by your target market. For instance, pens given out at a small business fair or roadshow are always a hit and quite inexpensive to brand. In this way, you will not be wasting precious money on producing media that will be ignored or thrown away.
Reducing the unnecessary
If you wish to produce a promotional brochure, the agency can suggest fewer pages, a smaller size, cheaper binding, a less fancy paper or a smaller print run. (Read the article on How to write great print specs to see alternative paper options.) All of these factors can shave off money and allow for other, more effective media to be designed for you. They can also suggest digital print runs, which are perfect for small quantities and much less expensive than the traditional litho printing.
Pull-up banners
If you wish to design pull-up banners, the agency can suggest looking after your banner mechanism so that next year when you wish to design a new banner, you only have to replace the banner. If you are thinking of designing wall banners, leave out the venue and date so that you can reuse them for other events. If these details are crucial, you could always use a sticker to cover over the old details.
Invites and newsletters
Don’t despair if you don’t have a budget to print and mail invites or newsletters. There are now e-vites and e-newsletters that are much cheaper to produce as the printing and mailing costs don’t apply. You could replace junk mail flyers with targeted emailers and social media ads and web banners for traditional print adverts.
So before you abandon your promotional goals, consider that there are ways to get around a thrifty budget and that graphic design agencies are not called creative for nothing!
By Gaylene Jablonkay, Managing Editor

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