If bad graphic design is losing you business (and it is), you will be pleased to hear that the opposite is also true.
Good graphic design will help get you more business, because it draws your prospects in to read the excellent content you’ve put together. It helps enhance the possibility that the right kind of prospective clients will actually notice your valuable expertise, your niche market, your focus areas.
Why do accountants struggle to prioritise good graphic design?
In our experience, graphic design is an area that accountancy firms struggle to make a priority. There are several reasons this is the case:
You haven’t historically invested anything in graphic design.
This means there is a great deal of work required to bring your firm up to date in terms of design. Your logo, website, marketing materials, presentations, handouts, leaflets, pens, coasters….the list goes on.
Because of this, improving your graphic design keeps getting put off until the sheer amount of investment required is so massive you never change anything.
Graphic design is considered to be a ‘luxury item’, not a necessity.
This presumption exists either in the minds of other partners or directors within your accountancy firm, or perhaps even in your own mind.
Let me assure you right now that this is no longer the case. There is no such thing as ‘no design’: it’s either good, or it’s bad. And if your current graphic design is not good (or brilliant), then it is by definition, bad. And bad graphic design is definitely losing you business.
You still consider yourself first an accountancy firm, and second a business.
This mental attitude is the reason marketing always takes a back seat for accountants. Accountants have historically not had to think of themselves as ‘a business’, the way a new business owner would. You’ve got recurring income, and many of you have never had to do much marketing (if any) in order to get new leads.
That’s all changed now. Your buyer is educated, discerning, and used to excellent, high quality design in every other area of their life. When it comes to it, so are you! So it’s time to set aside the mental attitude that says “we’re only an accountancy firm”, and start looking at what creative agencies and retail businesses and software and tech companies are doing that is cool, and modern, and fresh. That’s the kind of business you need to be – particularly when it comes to graphic design.
6 simple tools to improve your graphic design
Now, the very fact that you’re reading this blog post (or signed up to Karen’s Marketing Tips) means you have recognised this issue with your graphic design and you want to address it – even in some small way.
But perhaps you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of where to begin, or what to do that will help improve graphic design (without breaking the bank entirely, or completely alienating the other partners in the firm).
Not to worry – we’re here to help.
In our recent graphic design webinar which we delivered together with Design Pickle (you’ll hear more about them later), we shared 6 simple tools that will help you improve graphic design in small ways.
When it comes to it, that’s the best way to address any sort of marketing – small steps, one at a time, and of course (my rallying cry) “Not perfect but done”.
Here are the 6 tools we recommend. If you’re in a hurry, scroll down to number 6 because it’s the best of the lot.
I’ve lost track of the number of people asking me for a recommendation of a virtual assistant or personal assistant. This is it.
They’re based in the USA, but they work with English-speaking companies all over the world, and they just get stuff done. It’s not necessarily graphic design work, but when you use them to clear off your to-do list, you have much more time to devote to graphic design work and marketing in general.
Discount code: Use this link to get 50% off your first month
This site operates as a ‘design contest’. You get 30-60 designers all over the world competing to produce a new design for you – whether it’s a logo, graphical image, website page, Tshirt design, whatever.
The one caution I will give you is that it’s fairly time intensive. You’ll need to review designs (and do so quickly, within the agreed time frame), and give feedback, and generally invest in the process.
You also need to spend time creating a proper brief, so that the designers know where to begin, and for many accountants this can be quite challenging. However, if it’s a low-cost solution you’re looking for, it’s worth giving it a go.
Naturally we at the Profitable Firm are happy to manage the whole 99designs process for you (creating a brief, liaising with designers, suggesting edits, and presenting the shortlist to you). Or, you can just skip 99designs and come straight to us and we’ll do the whole thing. Just ask.
Using either Rocketspark or SquareSpace to build a simple, clean website is a brilliant solution if your existing website is ugly, outdated, or (worst of all) you can’t even access it or log in.
It’s only £16/month and the templates are clean and modern. Basically it’s almost impossible to make an ugly Rocketspark site, no matter how hard you try. So regardless of your own design abilities (or lack thereof), you’re all set.
Again, as with 99designs there is still a time investment, so if you’d rather we take the whole process off your hands, have a look at our Website Transfer options.
4. People Per Hour
This is the UK freelancing site – if you’re in the USA you could try fiverr.com (although having tried it, the quality isn’t quite as good, in my opinion).
The good thing about PPH is that you can find anyone to do anything. We had an extremely obscure web development issue involving a fairly outdated software, and within about 2 minutes we’d found an expert in that particular area who was willing to do the work for about £15. Win win.
You may need to do some vetting to ensure that the freelancer you’re working with is qualified and will deliver what you need – having tried them in the past we have had a few fails – but it’s definitely a good option if you just need a few items done.
In our opinion this is the best online printing house – everything they do is high quality, they’re not expensive, and they work and deliver quickly. Best of all, they have templates you can choose from, so you don’t necessarily need a graphic designer to produce the files first.
6. Design Pickle
Last but most definitely not least are our friends at Design Pickle. These guys are legendary. They’ve taken on board the fact that most small businesses (including accountants) are often not quite ready to invest at the level required for high quality graphic design – and yet they (and you) still need that level of design for your marketing.
It’s a flat fee design service – so you pay a monthly fee and get unlimited small graphic design work done. Email header banners, social media profile or cover images, graphics or imagery for blog posts, tweaks to existing files – you name it. Done in a day or so, and very responsive (and friendly). They don’t always get it perfect – sometimes the first design isn’t quite what you want – but they’ll keep going until you have what you want.
Discount code: Use code tpf25 to get 25% off your first month (and you can cancel after 14 days if it’s not a fit for you).
PF client discount code: All Profitable Firm clients get 15% off forever with Design Pickle – or we can include a membership in your monthly outsourced marketing package. Just ask.
7. Content Marketer
8. Bonus tool number 7 is our own Content Marketer programme, designed exclusively for accountants. Whilst all of the above 6 tools will help you with the practical element of getting graphic design done, the Content Marketer is there to help you understand what design you need, how to develop it, and how to integrate this with the rest of your marketing.
It’s exclusive to accountants, and a new group is kicking off in September 2016.
Discount code: Profitable Firm clients get 50% off the Content Marketer (only £49.50+VAT per month). Register here.
Watch the webinar “How bad design is losing you business”
Best of all, we ran a webinar recently with Russ Perry, the founder of Design Pickle (and original wearer of the pickle suit). He had some brilliant advice – it’s well worth taking an hour to watch this.
Why bad design is losing you business (and 6 low-cost tools to help) from The Profitable Firm on Vimeo.