Most folks I talk to in the course of my daily business realize that graphic design is a creative process that combines art and technology to communicate ideas (a unique message, if you will), the end result of which allows us to convey that message to a particular audience for some sort of purpose. In the web-related and other graphic work that I do, the goal of that message is usually to get people to buy things from us, subscribe to something we’re oftering, etc. (what we call “conversions” in the marketing world), and is associated with what’s called “conversion marketing,” which is relevant to all of the work that I do. I talk about it in the second half of this post.
I use Adobe’s Creative Cloud (CC) applications to do the brunt of my graphic work, using mostly a combination of Photoshop®, Illustrator®, and InDesign®. I’ve been using Adobe’s applications since the mid-nineties, and feel they suit my purposes best. Though there are a number of open-source and other vendors’ applications available (a number of which are truly good, if not great tools), I’ve yet to find something that will do the job as well or better, perhaps with the exception of Microsoft’s Visio® in one respect, which I use for flow-charting and page comp purposes when I’m working on larger projects where information architecture and usability are paramount.
That said, as great as Adobe’s applications are, even they can’t do everything as well as I’d like. For instance, though Photoshop does provide specific functionality that allows you to re-size images, the result of doing so using Photoshop can leave some things to be desired (e.g., re-sizing text in images can be problematic, resulting in a sort of lossy effect where the text loses the sharpness it had before the process). To work around such limitations, I also use tools like OnOne Software’s Perfect Photo Suite in conjunction with Photoshop which, when used properly, provides very pleasing results.
I also use color scheme generator tools like Adobe’s Kuler when determining the colors that will work well together in a specific project, whether I’m working on graphic illustration or someone’s web site.
Lastly, with respect to my graphic work, my process often includes the development (where required) and application of proper branding for a client. A client may already be satisfied with how they brand (their corporate identity) themselves, or may find they’re in need of a branding refresh (e.g., they might be after a newly designed logo which could be used in all their printed matter and online content). I also talk more about branding toward the bottom of this post.
Conversion marketing is generally thought of as an eCommerce phrase most commonly used to describe the act of converting site visitors into paying customers; although different sites and physical businesses may consider a “conversion” to be some sort of result other than a sale. Examples include sales of products, membership registrations, newsletter subscriptions, software downloads, or just about any activity beyond simple page browsing or window shopping.
The desired action can take many forms, varying from site to site, or in the case of printed matter, physical business to business.
One example of an online conversion event other than a sale is if a customer were to abandon an online shopping cart, the company could market a special offer, e.g., free shipping, to convert the visitor into a paying customer. A company may also try to recover a potential buyer who leaves their site through an online engagement method such as proactive chat in an attempt to assist the customer through the purchase process. Another example might be the case where someone finds something they’re after or interested in, pursuing it by traveling to or calling a business, finding something they want (whether or not they initially realized that) and in-turn, purchasing it. Such “physical” businesses can usually tell how well their marketing strategy is working by the turnout associated with their marketing strategy (for example, during the course of business with someone, their clients might mention the ad they saw in the local newspaper, or the flyer or business card they saw posted some place).
Generating a high conversion rate depends on several factors, all of which must be satisfactory to yield the desired results — the interest level of the visitor, the attractiveness of the offer, and the ease of the process:
- The interest level of the visitor is maximized by matching the right visitor, the right place, and the right time;
- The attractiveness of the offer includes the value proposition and how well it is presented. It is worth noting that small, impulse items typically have a higher conversion rate than large, shopping items;
- In the case of online conversions, the visitor’s ease of completing the desired action is dependent on site usability which includes intuitive navigation and fast loading pages; such translates loosely to shop and personnel presentation where physical businesses are involved.
A little bit about branding
The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers; therefore it makes sense to understand that branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.
The objectives that a good brand will achieve include:
- Delivers the message clearly;
- Confirms your credibility;
- Connects your target prospects emotionally;
- Motivates the buyer/user;
- Cements buyer/user loyalty.
To succeed in branding you must understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. You do this by integrating your brand strategies throughout your company at every point of public contact, keeping in mind that your brand resides within the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot.
A strong brand is invaluable as the battle for customers intensifies day by day. It’s important to spend time investing in researching, defining, and building your brand. After all, your brand is the source of a promise to your consumer. It’s a fundamental piece in your marketing communication and one you do not want to be without.
Some samples of my work
Following is a small collection of images that represent various graphic projects I’ve done, including brochures, presentation folders, fliers, business cards, and other corporate stationery. My entire range of graphic illustration services includes these, as well as catalogs, conference marketing materials, and other product literature (e.g., restaurant/diner menus; hotel literature, etc.), with emphasis on branding/corporate identity (click on an image to open the slide show):
If you feel I have something to offer you, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 518.576.6160, or email me via my contact form.