Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.
Let’s do a quick social experiment. Look at the front cover of my book.
Do you like it?
Whatever your answer (and I hope you said yes), chances are you made up your mind within 1/20th of a second
First Impressions Mean More Than You Might Think
Researchers at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, conducted a fascinating experiment on how quickly people judge a business based on the look of its website.
First, they showed volunteers the briefest glimpse of pages that had already been rated as either easy on the eye or visually jarring. They found that study participants developed an opinion within the first 50 milliseconds of viewing the website.
Then, they asked them to rate the website for visual appeal on a sliding scale.
Here’s what was incredible: Even though the participants had seen the image for just 0.05 seconds, their verdicts matched those of the folks who’d seen the page for longer!
What this means for you is that, unless you nail it with your first impression, your visitors may jump off your website before they even have a chance to learn about the value you offer.
Great Design Says More about Your Value than Anything Else
There’s also a psychological phenomenon that occurs when somebody has a positive first impression of your business card, website, brochure, or even video.
It’s called the “halo effect.” It means that people tend to overlook minor faults if the whole picture is pleasing. If you have a great website design, visitors will actually rate your content as being better than it is. The design creates the halo. It tells the consumer that this is a strong brand.
This is because we are all prone to cognitive bias. People love to be right—so they will continue to use a website that they decided from the outset was great, just to convince themselves that their initial decision was the right one.
Standout Design without Breaking the Bank
So, how can you create that great first impression within a limited budget?
With some basic tools and a few hundred dollars, you can easily create the impression that you used the best design firm in the city.
As a former art director, I know that professional logos can run anywhere from $2,500 all the way up to $50,000 or even $100,000.
But who has that much money to drop on a logo?
Instead, there’s a great website called Graphicriver.com. They have 48,000 logo templates starting at $29, with styles ranging from contemporary and comical to high-end and approachable. Icons, mascots, wordmarks—the range is staggering.
Some of the 1,382 insurance-related logo templates on www.graphicriver.com. Nice!
And if you want to make a few tweaks to one of their designs, you can have a designer work on it for just a few extra bucks. So right there, you’ve gotten an amazing logo for about $30.
If you’ve got a bit more to spend, then head over to 99designs.com.
There, for a minimum project fee of a few hundred dollars, you’ll have access to hundreds of designers who will compete for your project, giving you ideas as you go.
Once you find the “perfect” one, you award him the job and get the branding you love.
Some cool logo concepts starting at $265 on www.99designs.com.
Your Business Card
Now that you have a logo, the next step is business cards.
My favorite source is Moo.com. Moo specializes in higher-end and luxury business cards, stickers, and flyers. They have a gorgeous array of stationery and expert-produced design styles.
All you do is upload your logo, pick your style and stock, and you’ll get your cards in about a week. I’ve used my Moo business cards at networking meetings with some of the top marketers in the world, and every time I hand someone my card, he says, “Wow.” It’s that impressive.
My personal favorites are in the extra-thick luxe range, printed on 32-point Mohawk Superfine paper.
Gorgeous business card designs start at www.moo.com.
Now, let’s talk about brochures.
I love Stocklayouts.com. They have some of the most beautiful designs, and the site is really easy to use. You just buy a brochure template and download in Microsoft Word format. Then, you edit the placeholder content.
And if you’re looking for postcards, trifold brochures, or any kind of signage, you can buy an entire set of designs for around $200.
A financial planning brochure template you can snag for $99 on www.stocklayouts.com.
Let’s talk about video next.
A lot of people are scared to make a video because it feels so beyond their skill set. Well, that’s where VideoHive.net comes in.
Here, you can get tens of thousands of premade, stock videos to use within your own corporate or marketing videos. You’d be surprised at how many professional videos that you see on television actually incorporate videos from VideoHive.
And with selections starting at just $3, it’s a no-brainer to pick a couple for the next video you produce.
Some of the selections that come up when searching for “happy senior couple” on VideoHive.
Here’s an example of how we used a simple $6 VideoHive video to create a promotion.
One of my Platinum clients was holding a live in person dinner seminar for retirees. I advised him to create a simple video to promote the event, which he did.
We then bought some ads on YouTube to show it to people in the same zip codes he was mailing to when they were surfing YouTube. You know those annoying little videos that show up before you watch a YouTube video nowadays? That’s what we showed to every person over 65 in his zip code.
After the event was over, we counted 20% of attendees came from the YouTube promotion featuring that video!
A bigger breakthrough came when we found that the cost to generate an attendee online was only $20.19 – compared to $226 when using postcards! I share the exact ad we used and the strategy in an upcoming chapter.
Bonus Video Tip: Doodle Videos
But what if you want to create a custom video and control everything from start to finish?
One type of video that gets consistently incredible conversions is the “doodle-explainer” video. These show a hand drawing an image, and you can’t help but stick around to watch what unfolds. You can get a video like this for as little as $5 from Fiverr.com.
We did an experiment and found that the doodle videos perform extremely well when used in Facebook marketing.
According to Salesforce, the telecommunications industry typically has the highest Facebook ad click-through rate, at 0.919 percent. But the doodle video we tested got a 39.2% click-through rate on Facebook ads! That’s a ridiculous 4266 percent increase in conversions over industry ‘standards’!!!
Doodle videos are powerful because they take viewers back to childhood. Do you remember the first time you saw somebody draw something on a piece of paper? Watching it has a hypnotic, mesmerizing effect that you can’t pull away from.
As soon as the pen hits the paper, the loop begins. We are creatures of completion, so we want to see what’s at the end of that loop.
An artist on fiverr.com that will create a doodle video for you for $5
Have you ever noticed that videos with background music lift you up a bit as you watch them? That’s because you’re not just listening to a voice or to music. You’re actually hearing a heartbeat.
Studies show that videos with subtle heartbeat sounds or music with a heartbeat pace raise the blood pressure and excitement level of the person watching them.
So if you want to engage your viewers and tap into their emotions, try adding some royalty-free music to your videos.
There are tens of thousands of musicians around the world composing incredible soundtracks. These could easily be featured in movies or television shows, but they’re available on a royalty-free basis for as little as $10.
One of my favorite sources for that music is Pond5.com, which has an amazing, well-curated selection. Plus, you can sample everything on the website before you buy.
Another source that is really coming up in the royalty-free music world is AudioJungle.net. There, you can browse more than 268,000 royalty-free audio files that start at just $1.
A simple way to upgrade your presentations instantly is with stock photography.
Two of my favorite sources for quality stock photos are PhotoDune.com and iStockphotos.com.
But…danger, Will Robinson, danger! Whatever you do, avoid pulling images from Google search. Many of these are copyright-protected and may have royalties tied to them – besides being too low resolution enough to give a quality image
I’ve heard of several insurance agents who paid professionals to build them a website, only to receive an immediate cease-and-desist notice from an attorney because that professional had lifted images from the Internet without paying for them. Ouch!
So be smart and pay for your images, or you may end up paying a ton for them later on. PhotoDune images start at just $1. iStock works on a credit system that makes the photos cost anywhere from $3 to $5.
Armed with this information, you have no excuse to bring a boring presentation into a client meeting.
So, remember: making a SHIFT involves transforming yourself from an everyday advisor to one who makes a powerful and lasting impression.
Your website, business cards, brochures, presentations, and videos should demand attention and speak to people within a split second.
And if you’ve already made that SHIFT, then you know how good it feels.
People are making decisions about you and your brand in less than a second. Its therefore important to have great-looking business cards, website, and collateral to help build the “halo effect” around your venture right at the moment when people are deciding whether they should do business with you.
A variety of online resources can provide you with an incredibly professional look for a few hundred dollars—much less than what traditional agencies charge.
- Buy a pre-made, professional logo from Graphicriver.com.
- Moo.com has great, luxurious, professional-looking business cards.
- Stocklayouts.com is an amazing source for brochure or other collateral design.
- Videohive.com has stock footage you can use to spruce up videos. Or, you can hire a professional on fiverr.com to make a doodle explainer video for $5.
- Pondfive.com and AudioJungle.net have great, royalty-free music you can use as background in your videos.
- PhotoDune and iStock offers stunning photos for as low as $1 per image.