Color Me Daunted (or What’s in your Marketing Palette?)

How a small shop can choose effective marketing materials
 from too many available choices

The transportation and supply chain industries are producing some really interesting promotions these days thanks to an infusion of new marketing practitioners, a bevy of amazing digital tools, and what seems like an endless choice of images and colors. 

Years ago, the process of producing a display ad or a brochure was cumbersome and expensive, compared to the nimble methods of today. And, we have so many more choices now! So many, many, many more choices. Sigh.

What hasn’t changed are the challenges faced by a one- or two-person marketing department in small-to-midsize companies. The pressure can be pretty intense to work fast, cheap, and still come up with account-winning material. Whether you’re in a small team, or by yourself, having thousands of fonts, a million images, and unlimited colors to choose from can be daunting.

Here are few ground rules help to you focus on an effective palette of marketing tools.

Use a Style Guide. If your company doesn’t have one, it should. It will set guidelines for how to use the logo, the palette of official colors, and preferred typefaces. It can be as simple as a one-page outline. Some style guides include a mission statement, instructions for a prescribed writing style, and even how-tos for social media.

Developing a style guide should be treated like any revenue-generating activity: with the blessing of upper management; a production schedule; a budget; and a deadline. Solid brand recognition is earned by being consistent. Working from a brand style guide will save lots of time when it comes to developing new material, because your choices will be focused, and the outcome will be coordinated. 

Know your audience. You want to engender trust, and a good way to do that is to help your audience recognize themselves in your material. Will you be promoting a new service to existing customers? Trying to reach a new business sector? Aiming to recruit workers on the dock?

Choose images and colors that will engender interest in that audience group. Consider the surroundings in which your promotion will be viewed, and the attention span of the people you hope to reach. Folks in in the supply chain business are busy—respect that.

Differentiate from the competition. Take a look at what your competitors are doing in online and printed publications. Develop a file of their materials from trade shows and conferences. Then choose design and messaging elements that set you apart.

Do competitors only use color photos? Then, choose black-and-white or duotones for your promotional materials. Is their messaging focused on capabilities? Why not think about emphasizing your customer relationships? Is all of their content gated with tedious download procedures? Then, put yours in an easily accessible blog.     

Keep it simple. Choosing your company’s look, brand style, and marketing message doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Establish your parameters in advance, and then turn your mind loose within that new “palette.”


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    , 2019