Friday, February 13, 2009
Promotion on a Budget
Yesterday, I ended up, once again, in graphics mode. The note cards that I put together weeks ago had long ago arrived and had been duly celebrated as a new tool in the promotional kit. Then, the Husband’s new business cards and postcards were delivered a couple of days ago. However, while I was still exhaling with relief over the cards (the color and trim passed muster—no yellow-green skin, although the jpg above is a tad disturbing); the horse was still gray; and no pink tint to the farrier’s leather apron), we began re-examining another tool.
We had put together a discount certificate that we were sending to clients along with a thank you note. The certificate allows the client to pass a gift on to a friend. Of course, you may already be thinking, “Gift certificate? Isn’t that hopelessly outmoded? Shouldn’t you be talking about a gift card?” And, you would be sooooo right. Sigh. Sometimes old dogs must learn new tricks. Still, there was another complication: The Husband’s Farrier business doesn’t yet support a budget that would cover the printing costs for plastic gift cards—the skimpy promotional budget was already straining.
Thus, my all too brief period of basking in the successful execution of another assignment (design a more upscale business card to follow the first one) came to a halt, and I embarked on the Gift-Card-on-a-budget project. What I eventually put together (a business card printed on a home printer, then laminated) certainly doesn’t measure up to the sophistication of that gift card you get from Barnes and Noble or Starbucks, but they are a distinct improvement over what we were using. Most importantly, we moved from the past (the certificate) to the present—or closer anyway, and the card does have a plastic feel. Should that be considered good? Yechh. I never liked the touch of plastic. Oh, well. Old dog, etc.
Fortunately, no one expects someone in the farrier business (unless that farrier is also in the retail business, marketing specialized products) to have high-concept and slick promotional tools. While there have been some remarkable advances in the farrier’s craft over recent decades, it is, after all, a business that hinges primarily on some fairly old-fashioned skills. The basic requirements for a good farrier include a strong back (as well as arms and legs) along with the willingness to pursue an in-depth study of equine hoof, bone, and muscle structure. Just as important is a great deal of horse-sense, as well as a tolerance for cantankerous animals who just naturally don’t want to have one foot hoisted up in the air, so some guy can trim and rasp much less pound nails into that horn. Horses have a strong preference for keeping all four feet on the ground, and some aren’t bashful about expressing that preference.
Fortunately, we don’t really need a Nike-level promotional campaign to keep The Husband in competition— just some clean and clear ways to stay in touch with current clients, while adding a few new ones as we go along. So far, progress on all fronts is slower than we would prefer, but certain.