If you are going to create your own advertising - at least try and do it right.
With technology and the internet providing so much information and so many toys to play with, it's inevitable these days that some businesses will opt to look after their brand and advertising needs themselves, 'in house'.
The argument over whether its a good or bad move to employ professionals with years of experience and understanding of the industry or 'go it alone' is one for another time. Needless to say that Yellow Pencil clients have chosen the first option.
But if you have decided that you want a more hands-on approach, do yourself a favour and take a note of some tips which may help you out. Be aware that these are opinionated generalisations - REAL advice costs money.
1. Choose the right programmes.
The age-old argument between Mac vs PC is not so much of an issue these days with cross-platform programmes. However, the publishing industry prefers to use programmes such as InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. DON'T create your print material in Word, Powerpoint, CorelDraw or Publisher - these programmes were designed originally for business administration purposes and most commercial printers would prefer that they stayed there. If you do choose to use them then be prepared for the consequences.
2. Different file formats are meant for different applications.
Either read up about it or find someone who already knows the differences between .jpegs, .pdfs, .tiffs, .eps file formats. Each are specifically designed for particular jobs and can create vastly different outcomes if you use the wrong one for the wrong purpose. When a printer requests a specific file format - listen to them.
3. You can make a large photograph smaller, but you can't make a small photo bigger.
In the real world, 'high resolution' rules but in the online world, it's the other way around. 'Low resolution' means smaller file sizes and speed - particularly in loading websites or transfering data. An image might look sharp on your screen but that's not necessarily the reality. A photograph holds all of its important quality information in its resolution and the higher the resolution the bigger the file size and sharper the quality. If you take photos at a high resolution (300dpi @ 100%) you can compress all of that data down to a useable size for the web (72dpi @100%) . But if your original photo is already at 72dpi - YOU CAN'T ENLARGE IT without dramatic loss of quality. That's why you can't download a picture off a web site (at 72dpi) and use it for printing (300dpi).
4. Treat your website like a legal document.
Just because you can easily remove something, doesn't mean you didn't say it in the first place. Think carefully about what you say and how you say it. As well as paying close attention to the content on your website, make sure you have a section covering your website operating policy, privacy safeguards, copyright rules, disclaimers and any terms or conditions. And REGULARLY review them.
5. If images don't say they are free then they aren't.
Everything belongs to somebody. Resist the temptation to simply download any image you want straight from the internet - it's the intellectual property of someone else and unauthorised use is theft, no matter how you look at it. If you need a good resource of 'royalty-free' photography, graphics or audio, then signup to www.istockphoto.com or www.thinkstockphotos.com.
These are huge, good quality and creative resources. You pay a nominal fee each time you download something and you won't have the copyright police knocking on your door.
6. Vector Format Files
When a printer or signwriter asks for a 'Vector Format' file, they are asking for a sharp, original line-art file. It's usually needed for reproduction of typography or logos where colours need to be separated - such as signwriting or screenprinting. In these cases, a .jpeg or a .tiff file generally WON'T do the job.
7. Subscribe to File Transfer Protocols.
You'll invariably end up having to send some sort of digital file format across town, around the country or around the world and will probably reach for your email to do it. DON'T!
Email might be fine for sending the lightweight stuff - PDF's for instance - but when you're sending the heavy-duty big files, artwork, photo links etc etc you really want a system built to handle it.
Check out some good File Transfer Protocols like www.hightail.com. Affordable, highly secure and responsive Cloud-based systems which not only take care of the cross-platform issues but most also offer a good file STORAGE option which means you can archive your work.
They are designed especially for this sort of work and can offer some very good project management solutions as well. You might even end up looking like a professional!
8. Advertise to your CUSTOMERS - not to yourself.
You need to advertise to get and keep customers. So you need to advertise in places that THEY will see it - not YOU. There's no point advertising on a radio station just because YOU listen to it, or in a magazine just because YOU read it. Good advertising is created with your audiences in mind - so you need messages that appeal to THEM, at times and in places that THEY will see. Try to look at your messages through a customers eyes - it's more valuable to get customers to critique your advertising than it is to get your family or staff to do it.
9. Buy your advertising on effectiveness, appropriateness and reach.
If an advertising rep cares more about their publication, channel or station than they do about what you are trying to achieve, then don't put your advertising with them. Ask them about reach, frequency and who reads their publication or listens to their channel. They are either trying to help you reach your audience effectively - or they are just trying to sell you time or space. One will win you business, and one will cost you money.
10. If you base your advertising on how much you can afford, you're already doing it wrong.
Hopefully this speaks for itself.