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By Larry Trevarthen

Making a significant impression in today’s business environment is not easy, but small businesses face even greater challenges because of limited financial and personnel resources. When trying to compete against large competitors with large budgets and a dedicated marketing staff, small business owners definitely face an uphill battle – but it’s not impossible. To stretch your marketing budget and garner big results, consider the following tips:

Print it in-house. With limited budgets and personnel resources, small businesses often run into difficulties when trying to print marketing collateral. Small businesses typically need quantities of 500 copies or less – much less than the average print shop order – and costs from printing companies can run high, particularly for materials in color.

As a result, a growing number of small businesses are turning to “do-it-yourself” marketing and bringing production responsibilities in-house to experience a better ROI. In fact, in 2004, more than 50 percent of small and medium businesses (SMBs) printed either all or some of their marketing materials in-house, according to information released by the International Communications Research in February 2005.

To determine whether to bring marketing responsibilities in-house or outsource to a print vendor, small business owners should calculate expected costs and the complexity of the print job(s). Imaging and printing technology continues to drop in price, making it easier and more affordable to produce marketing collateral in-house and experience great savings. Additionally, because materials can age quickly and require frequent revisions, bringing marketing production responsibilities in-house allows for greater flexibility to respond in real-time to company changes.

For example, Rocky Mountain Technology Group (RMTG), a small, Montana-based software development firm, discovered new challenges when reaching out to international clients. RMTG implemented a “do-it-yourself” marketing solution to create a variety of sales support materials that was easy to refresh and specific to each client’s content and language needs, saving an estimated $5,000 to $10,000 per marketing product brochure.

Add color. Incorporating color into marketing materials is practically a necessity these days, especially since using color communicates information up to 70 percent faster and 77 percent more effectively while increasing readership retention by an average of 65 percent. Color also increases motivation or participation – customers are 55 percent more likely to pick up a color piece first.(1)

Adding color can help draw attention to important information; however, it’s crucial to choose the right combination of colors and designs to positively impact a customer’s reaction to printed materials. Customers often feel a stronger sense of connection with bright, vivid colors, which portray a company as lively, contemporary and easily accessible to consumers. Current color trends include the use of greens in all variations, which is considered very hip and modern, as well as the combination of water-based blues and reddish floral hues, which is now emerging as a fresh approach to corporate design, according to information provided by the The Color Association of the U.S. in October 2005.

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Larry Trevarthen is the Worldwide Director of Market for the HP Color LaserJet printer business.
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