Manage A Graphic Design Budget? 7 Ways To Increase Your ROI
So you have finally created a bunch of high quality, super valuable content and copy in your landing page, lead magnet, blog posts and website that nobody should miss them. But question is, how is your content able to cut through the noise to first capture your audience attention and subsequently engage them, gain their trust and lead them to buy your stuff?
The answer seemed obvious, you got to make them look really really good in the eyes of your target audience, and you want to do that really cheap, or even free. You tried to do it yourself, and that took away 4 hours of your time every day. You realised you are not a designer and you never wanted to be one. Then you decided to outsource this part of your workload.
Even as you finally let go of your reins to fixing the colours and fonts, you begin to have reservations. I know what you are thinking:
How can I trust the designer to come up with something to bring me positive ROI?
How much ROI can I get?
How do I manage a graphic design budget?
Isn’t graphic design a cost centre? Is there even an ROI?
Ideally, you would have to receive quality design work from your designer, increase your revenue and reduce your costs. How do you do that?
Here are 7 ways to increase your ROI:
Decide your profit margin
This is one of the most important steps to increase your ROI when managing your graphic design budget. Don’t decide on your graphic design budget until you have decided your take-home profit.
Let’s say for this month you would like to earn a profit of $5000 to be comfortable. Next, include your average monthly taxes and add up all the bills that you need to cover for the month, including your internet, hosting, cloud servers like Google Drive and marketing automation tools.
Say that your tax and bills come up to about an average of $500 this month. If you are in a service-based business, the next step is to ask yourself how many people would you like to work with or able to accommodate in your time.
Let’s take 10 as the magic number. If each person were to pay you at least $1000, you will get $10000. If you deduct your profit and bills, you are left with $4500 to spend.
I would say this is a decent amount to work with a good graphic designer. In this way, you already have your profit secured, anything else is just a bonus.
Barter trade with a reliable designer
I did this when I was just starting out and you may wish to try this out with students looking to build their portfolio. You may wish to have a chat with a designer to come up with an agreement on what items to exchange for.
They can be a 2-minute video testimonial or 3 client referrals or you may wish to provide a skill you have, that could be copywriting or editing services, coaching or mentoring, business operation services and more.
Your designer will first have to give you a ballpark of what they may charge if you were to pay. That amount should roughly match the value of the service or product you are exchanging for.
I’ve worked with my coach in this manner before. My design services came up to $5000+ and we split it up such that, she pays me $2500 and gave me $2500 worth of coaching time to cover the other half. I was happy to do the exchange and that saved her money to increase ROI for her, win-win!
Be clear with what you want first
Whether you hire a freelance designer, monthly flat rate productized design service or a design agency. You can only successfully manage your graphic design budget and increase your ROI if you truly know what you want.
Not knowing what you want will lead to many meetings, rounds of changes, and questions that need more time. More time also means you will have to come up with more money to pay the designers.
A freelance designer will invoice you for all the hours he/she has worked for. Reduce the hours, reduce your costs. A flat rate productized design service runs on a retainer basis. The more changes you need, the more time it takes to end the subscription, the more months you may need to renew the service and pay for them.
Same with design agency, if they hired a team to support you, you will be charged for their days spent in the office making changes for you. Hence, do yourself a favour by just picking the most important piece of design to work on first before anything else.
Find out what your audience wants
We all want to engage the right people to take action on a marketing piece we put out there. There are times we do things like giveaways or any promotional items for people to notice us. But how do you know which item is something your audience wants?
In order for you to successfully manage your graphic design budget and increase your ROI, I suggest that you come up with a way to know for sure which item will be adored by your audience first before hiring a designer to work on it.
Let me explain how this can be done.
I am also planning a giveaway and as I’m saying this right now, the giveaway is not going to happen now. It’s a planned activity where the actual giveaway will be in July.
In between now and then, I am reaching out to potential recipients in my network, asking them questions like “what would excite them most and what they would like to receive”.
For example, I did a poll via Instagram stories asking my friends if they would like a free t-shirt from us. See Instagram photo here:
Result of the vote? It is surprising actually, out of the 300 Instagram friends I had at that time, only 2 clicked “Yes! Dying to have it!”. That’s just telling me how much my friends want a t-shirt from me.
The point here is, I haven’t designed anything yet. The results are telling me not to spend time and money getting the t-shirts designed and printed yet.
Just by spreading your radar around to understand what’s most valuable to your audience before hiring any designer will save you a lot of upfront cash and time.
Show processes leading up to production
Say you have a big launch in six months time and leading up to this launch you are planning to create mini promotional items to build up your fan base and hype.
To manage your graphic design budget and increase your ROI, start by posting screenshots or record short video clips of every step of your work process leading up to each mini item you are creating.
In the beginning, most of the people following you may not comment or react to your posts. Don’t be discouraged because it takes time and consistency. As you move along, do this with the mindset that you are not doing it for your post likes or for your posts to go viral.
The reasons for you to do this are to:
- Document all that you’ve done and sharing to help those who may be in a similar situation. You are creating an opportunity for yourself to allow this audience to share their thoughts with you that in turn help you learn what needs to be changed along the way. Rather than do everything in private and running the risk to change everything half a year later, you do that incrementally on a daily basis, reducing risks of higher costs and time incurred.
- Open up “all in a day’s work” sessions to the public, allowing anyone interested to be involved. You want to hear their feedback in real time because this is when people are most spontaneous and honest with what they see on the spot. In this way, you are not recreating designs in a rushed or urgent manner. You are taking your time to understand your audience as well as to make small changes to your designs. If you need a graphic designer to change something with high quality within 24 hours, you may have to pay triple the amount of having a designer to do the same thing say in a week’s time.
This is the learn early and fail fast method towards rewarding yourself with a better return on investment later.
Communicate clearly to your designer
It is hard to manage a graphic design budget and increase your ROI if your designer returned with a design that does not reflect what you want. You may have to send it back to the designer for a redesign or spend more to engage someone else who may do a better job.
With more than 10 years as a graphic designer, I’ve experienced all kinds of communication issues with my clients. Designers should not be lazy to find out more from clients, at the same time, clients should not be lazy either thinking they can leave it all to designers to do all the research unless this has been agreed by both parties.
It’s a two-way process and in my case, what I do to make sure I interpret my clients accurately is to ask questions that go deep to know what the clients really want. On the client’s end, it’s also imperative for them to be as detailed as possible in their response.
For example, say you would like to create a landing page or sales page to sell a book. Instead of telling your designer, “design a landing page with my book on it including this copy”, it’s clearer to them if you provide at least three sample websites that you love and three other sample websites that you don’t wish to see in your landing page.
I know you are busy and may not have the time to do such research. But just like any ordinary human, a graphic designer is not a mind reader as much as he/she wishes to be.
This early upfront communication process can help to eliminate unnecessary back and forth and hence reduce your time is taken, effort to keep having to review the design work and design fees to make those changes.
Engage a productized flat rate design service
There are a whole lot of flat rate design services these days, including the one I’m running now. That’s because it’s of great value to anyone who needs to churn out regular marketing collaterals or do lots of A/B testing with their graphics and/or landing pages.
At the same time, we find that it helps our clients save money and time without the need to haggle with quotes whenever they need a graphic done. With a flat rate, there are no invoices with extra fees to surprise them after the end of a project.
It’s clearly the same amount every month and this budget remains the same throughout the year. It’s easy accounting to help increase your ROI while managing your graphic design budget. No brainer!
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