A few years ago, I had a meeting with a client who wanted us to assist with creating some product labels. And during that very same meeting, the customer began writing out 10 different labels with ingredients and messaging in my office. They said “this will only take a few minutes” and sat quietly writing for 35 minutes or more. I expect that everyone can agree that there a few things that are wrong with this scenario, not the least of which is that individual was not organized nor ready for this meeting. Also the time that they took thinking about and developing their product labels was probably less than required for the job at hand. And finally, both of our time was being wasted during this meeting because the product label they ended up with was probably going to be less effective at representing their brand. Needless to say, being organized could have saved this business owner both time and money, and provided them with a much better brand label in the end.

1) Taking Time to Develop your Products

If you are creating a product, developing marketing materials, product labelling and advertising DO your research. Find out what your competitors are doing. Go kick some tires, so to speak, by heading down to retailers or businesses that are selling the same things you do and see what works and what does not. For instance, tiny writing on a little difficult to open jar may not work for your target market of seniors with “old eyes” and arthritic fingers.

Ensure that ingredients listings follow Canadian labelling standards, and decide if you are going to be selling out of province because you may need to have French included. If so, you may need the services of a French translator (don’t rely exclusively on Google translate – while serviceable it often fails at catching nuances that could cause big trouble in the end). Check out some brochure racks and see what catches your eye, even in an unrelated industry. If you take the time to do the leg work at the beginning, you can prevent costly re-designs or reprints for your materials. Remember, a good carpenter measures twice and cuts once!

2) Come to Meetings Prepared with Ideas

When meeting with your design team, come prepared with some ideas that you may have about selling your product and service. Provide information about your target market, including age and demographic. Provide basic text for brochures, advertisements and website projects that is written out and clear. Provide samples of things that you like or that you think may work to give your designer a jumping off point. We certainly can provide the creativity but assistance with inspiration and suitability of design ideas for your project all come from you. This will save both time and money.

3) Less is More – Keeping Communication Organized

There is a much longer article about this on our website, but in short being organized when working with your designer saves you money and can save you from a potential disaster. You can streamline costs and time easily by avoiding multiple design changes sent in separate emails. Review all projects thoroughly and create a single, well-crafted email with all the changes that you might need written out clearly. This ensures that your designer can make all the changes at the same time and that fewer mistakes are made because there is less back and forth and opportunities for communication to go awry. Additionally, provide ALL materials at the outset of the project. Building a puzzle is much easier with all the pieces and once again can save a costly re-design to rework a brochure or website with the newly added picture or change in function.

4) Take Time to Understand Job Specifications

Not understanding the basics of how your website works, or how that particular mailer folds can cost you a good deal of money if there are problems. Ask questions and get all the information about how your materials are created and take the time to understand what is required to make them. For instance, don’t simply expect that taxes are automatically added to your product in your e-commerce portion of your website, unless you otherwise inform the website designer. We are not experts in your business, nor do we have any understanding of which taxes are applied to which products. It is your job as the business owner to understand what the law requires from your company and to ensure that the laws are adhered to with regards to mailing standards, advertising standards and taxes. We have expertise with all three, but recommend that you as the business owner know what the rules are so that things are done right – the first time, with costly mistakes being avoided.

5) Keep an Organized File of all the Digital Assets for Your Company

Make sure that you have a copy of all your branding elements, print materials and product photography. Each time you have a new marketing project, create a folder within your Digital Assets folder and name it with the project and the date ie: ABC Power Washing Business Card 01-02-2016. That way you will be able to separate old and new artwork quickly, and have all the necessary branding elements that you might need. This can greatly assist you in the case of an emergency print job when last minute business cards or brochures are needed. Ensure that all the people in your organization that need to have access to these assets do, so that when dealing with outside agencies all current and appropriate artwork can be sent in a quick and efficient manner.

Assuming your designer has all of your projects on file is a bad idea. Often many design firms expunge old files after two years. We do keep your projects for much longer and have backups in the cloud, but as not all designers are created equal you need to protect your business by ensuring that you have all the files that you have paid to produce. This also protects your wallet, as having a logo recreated from a poor quality fuzzy JPEG image is no mean feat, and can be costly.

In short, it pays to be organized and informed when you are putting together your brand, when you are creating your product labelling, when you are deciding on an advertising project and when you are building a website. Understanding the legal requirements, getting information about the printing process and doing lots of legwork at the beginning of any venture will save you time and money. And in the end, because you took the time to invest in the process and hired a professional design team, your extra effort will rewarded with fewer costly mistakes along the way.

Connect with the team at ITG to get your project started today!

About the Author

Tina getting a closer look with a magnifying glass

Tina Kempling, the Lean Green Team Leader at Imagine That with over 35 years of experience in the print industry, newspaper and magazine advertising.

As an industry-certified designer since 1991, Tina knows her stuff when it comes to marketing vision. But what sets her apart is her understanding of advertising and marketing in today’s digital and print market. She can help companies tap into the incredible marketing power in new and creative ways. Ready to take your marketing game to the next level? Give Tina a shout!