In 2011, Small Business Owners Still Rely on Print

In Spring 2011, over 500 small business owners lent their insight to the FedEx Office Fourth Annual Signs of the Times small business survey. Besides gauging the optimism of these small business owners, the findings support the notion many businesses – particularly those owned by individuals age 18-35 – continue to rely largely on print as a means of marketing and advertising to their customers and prospects. Here are some key findings from the survey:

More than half of small business owners (53%) are turning towards more traditional channels like newsletters and direct mail.

While many small business owners continue to turn to social media sites such as Facebook to engage with existing and potential customers online, more than half of small business owners (53%) are turning towards more traditional channels like newsletters and direct mail. This reliance on more traditional communications channels shows a significant increase from 2010 (44%). Plans to create/improve a company’s online presence (website, banner advertising, SEO) and plans to utilize social media and networking sites (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) have also shown a considerable increase.

Younger owners (ages 18-35) are more likely to use traditional marketing/advertising channels.

Additional findings confirm that many forms of traditional printed media continue to be a popular choice for many small businesses. Business cards, yellow pages ads and brochures remain highly used print advertising/marketing tools. Interestingly, younger business owners (ages 18-35) are shown to be the highest users of these more traditional marketing/advertising channels. Lesser used marketing/advertising tools that made the list include Newspaper ads, Out-of-store signs/banners/posters and coupons.

Over one-third (35%) of respondents plan to split their resources evenly between online marketing and print advertising.

The way in which these small business plan to distribute their resources for marketing and advertising makes a great case for print as a communications medium that isn’t going away anytime soon. While less than a third (29%) of respondents plan to focus their resources almost solely on traditional forms of advertising and marketing, over a third (35%) of respondents plan to split their resources evenly between online marketing and print advertising. The remainder of respondents (36%) plan to focus their resources primarily online. Four in 10 (42%) of small businesses say that their web-based marketing and advertising is supplemented by print material.

91% of small business owners believe that the quality of a company’s marketing/advertising materials reflects the quality of a company’s products and services.

Other interesting findings can be seen in the correlation between small business owners’ belief that the quality of a company’s marketing/adverting materials and the quality of its products and services. While a staggering majority of the respondents (91%) believe that the quality of a company’s marketing/advertising materials reflects the quality of its products and services, nearly one-quarter (23%) say that their own marketing/advertising materials do not reflect the quality of their products and services.

Surprisingly, nearly 40% of these small business owners stated that they are not concerned about the quality of their marketing/advertising materials. This number raises a lot of questions: Have these business owners evaluated the potency of these materials and have deemed effective? Do they simply see the need to have something in print and are just satisfied with them as is? Or, do they simply not care about the effectiveness of these materials? Unfortunately, the study doesn’t shed any light on the possible reasons.

Findings show that younger small business owners put even more emphasis on the connection between marketing materials and the perceived quality of products and services. 71% of these younger business owners indicate that these materials offer a strong reflection of quality, and 80% of them have concerns with the quality of their own materials.

Read or download the Fourth Annual Signs of the Times Report here.

HOW Magazine’s 2010 Design Survey: Salaries are Down, but it’s not All Bad

From July 2008 to July 2010, over 1,500 designers shared details of their salaries with HOW. According to HOW Magazine’s 2010 design salary survey, the average national salary for designers dropped slightly (-1.5%) from 2008 figures to $49,753. If you’re a designer, does this decrease mean that you should worry  about the demand for your services? The good news is that it’s not all that bad.

“Graphic designers and production artists are in huge demand right now,” says Donna Farrugia, executive director of The Creative Group. For Donna, all signs are pointing to an approaching growth and hiring phase. According to a recent hiring index by The Creative Group, 6% of marketing and advertising managers planned to expand their staff in the third quarter of 2010. Up more than 5% since the second quarter, this is a good indication that growth and hiring may be in an upswing. The survey’s “Specialty Areas in Demand” include print design/production, web design/production and creative/art direction.

$2,200 average salary increase

Additionally , designers who were fortunate enough to see a salary increase saw an average of about $2,200. Creative directors showed a modest increase in pay (+3.9%), bringing their average annual salary to about $70,600. The increase likely due to both their experience and an ability to concept on-demand. Web designers also showed an increase in salary growth (+3.4%), bringing the average annual salary of this group to about $51,300. As a need for knowledgeable, creative web designers continues to be a demand, this figure should only continue to increase.

Male Designers still make about $1,600 more than their female counterparts annually.

And now for some bad news. The 2010 survey indicates a continuing disparity between the incomes of female designers and their male counterparts. According to the 2008 survey, female designers on average made nearly $5,400 less than their male peers. While this figure shows improvement in the 2010 survey, male designers still make about $1,600 more than their female counterparts annually. Cash bonuses for designers are also down an approximately $200 in 2010, but only 46% of participants reported receiving bonuses this year.

The average salary of designers living in southern states is down 8.5% while designers working in NYC made 18% more on average than in 2008 .

Geography seems to be a large factor in determining a designer’s salary as both the demand for services and the cost of living play influential roles. While the salaries of designers working in the North Central and Southern areas of the country make anywhere between $45,000 to $49,000, their counterparts working in larger cities on the east and west coast make significantly more. The average salary of designers working in New York City is up over 18% since last year ($63,056). Furthermore, while designers working in San Francisco may have seen a 6% drop in compensation this year, the average salary of $55,772 remains amongst the highest in the nation behind New York City ($63,056). Designers living in southern states appear to have suffered the most this past year, with salaries down 8.5%, bringing their average annual salary to approximately $45,500.

Freelancers’ average annual salaries are down 9% since 2008.

How much designers are paid is also influenced largely by what type of organization they work for. For the purpose of the survey, HOW grouped designers into four groups indicated by workplace: In-house, Design Firm, Ad Agency and Freelancer. The average salary of these four groups comes in at $48,988. Who’s making the most, you ask? Creatives working at Design Firms are currently averaging a salary of just over $51,000 (+3.2%). Unfortunately, it’s just the reverse for Freelancers, whose average annual salaries are down 9% since 2008. Representing the lowest average annual salary in the group ($47,394), it’s likely that freelancers’ have suffered more from the recession than these other groups due to clients’ shrinking budgets and difficulties finding new ones.

Entry-level designers suffered a 3.9% drop in pay.

As in other fields, it goes without saying that experience has shown to be the largest factor in determining how much a designer can presume to make in his/her field. HOW divided survey participants into seven groups, determined by their title: Principal, Partners or Owners, Creative Directors, Art Directors, Senior Designers, Designers, Entry-level Designers/Production Artists and Web Designers. The survey shows that while Entry-level Designers make understandably less than more experienced, senior level designers, they also suffered a drop in pay this year (-3.9%), making on average just over $30,000. Principals, Partners and Owners suffered from the largest percentage drop in 2010 (nearly 12%), bringing the average annual salary of these individuals to just over $55,400.

It’s important to note that a majority of the survey respondents (35.9%) come from the Midwest/North Central region of the United States. Participants from larger cities included in the survey (San Francisco and New York City) comprise only 7.2% of the overall figures. HOW states that while the survey numbers were down in comparison to 2008’s survey, there’s a possibility that this survey may actually show a modest improvement over the last half of 2008 and the first half of 2009, signaling signs of what will hopefully be a lasting economic recovery.

Additional Links & Resources

Print Remains An Essential Piece Of The Communications Puzzle

For the past 47 years, Graphic Design USA (GDUSA) has held its Annual Print Design Survey in an effort to understand more about the continuous, influential role of print design. These days there’s a lot of talk about the death of print – fortunately, GDUSAs latest findings conclude otherwise: print design today remains an essential component of business’ marketing and advertising efforts.

“Print is just another piece of the marketing communications puzzle… print feeds off of internet and internet feeds off of print.” John Danek, Danek Designs!

According to the 47th Annual Print Design Survey, print and collateral materials continue to be a major source of work for graphic designers. Over 90 percent of survey participants (GDUSA readers) indicated that they design for print in addition to other mediums, and that print projects take up nearly 70 percent of their time. The design of brochures/collateral, direct mail pieces, promotional material and print advertising are all found in the report’s top ten print projects that designers have worked on in the last year.

“While digital and web are becoming more dominant, printed pieces still have a great importance in every line of business.” Christie Denk, CMD Graphics

In addition to designing a wide range of printed materials, the survey also indicates that designers are also buying for print at a growing rate. A resounding majority of participants – 88 percent – answered that they bought or specified printing during the past year. These designers are also increasingly turning to digital short-run printing as an alternative to traditional printing. In fact, 79 percent of survey respondents answered that they buy or specify digital short-run printing. Their reasons for doing so are also indicated in the survey: digital short-run printing is ideal if one is looking for fast turnaround, affordability and the ease of workflow.

For more on the survey results, visit GDUSA.

AIGA Report Shows Revival in Design Investment


Since 2005, the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) has conducted a quarterly survey of design industry leaders in an effort to gather information on the conditions within the design economy. Using a system called the Design Leaders Confidence Index, AIGA obtains answers from several hundred design leaders and uses their responses to measure the current state of the design economy. April’s index concludes that an interest and investment in design has steadily been rising from the survey’s all time low in October 2008 (50.66) to a record high this past April (103.73), representing the strongest level of investment in design yet seen during this economic recovery. What does this recent index mean to industry professionals and those participating in the design economy? – Good news.

We’re getting Jobs.

While 15% of industry professionals feel they are less likely to hire new designers, more than one-third of survey respondents believe they will be more likely to hire new designers in this quarter than last.

We’re Modernizing.

Nearly half of the survey participants reported an increased interest in purchasing new hardware and software. A statistic which is up from three months ago.

We’re Confident.

The survey indicates that designers are more confident than many other business leaders. This has to be due at least partially to a renewed interest in consumers who are reinvesting in professional-grade design, reducing both concerns about business as well as the availability of jobs.

AIGA will conduct its next quarterly Design Leaders Confidence Index survey in July.