Tuesday, April 21, 2009

10 Best Places to Download Graphics

Do you love your graphics? Does the quality of your marketing materials and presentations tell your audience you are the best-of-the-best? Are your printed documents overcome by bad clip art or, worst, do they drown the reader in a sea of text? At a glance, does your website tell visitors that you are a one-person company struggling to make ends meet? If so, now is the time to fix the problem.

Your current and future clients expect quality materials from quality companies and consultants. You can’t tout your professionalism to your audience by showing a low-quality presentation and distributing unprofessional marketing materials. Doing so will cause your clients to question your abilities—100% of the time. You don’t need that obstacle—too.

Great news! You can add quality graphics—and quality is critical—to your presentations and marketing materials for very little money, but you need to know where to look to get low-cost, high-quality graphics. Below is a list of the top ten sites I use to develop quality graphics and help my clients achieve even the most loftiest of goals (like winning $1.3 billion dollar contracts).

There is no substitute for the benefits derived from using a qualified, experienced designer; however, in these challenging economic times, companies are searching for ways to cut costs. Unfortunately, cutting the quality of your materials will increase your risk of failure. In the short term, use one of these low-priced solutions to weather the storm without sacrificing quality.

This list is by no means comprehensive. There are other websites that sell graphics, but these are the sites I use most often and recommend.

  1. Dreamstime.com ($1-$50 per photograph and illustration) (http://www.dreamstime.com) Dreamstime is a library of almost 5.5 million photographs and illustrations. Users purchase credits and use those credits to download graphics. The more credits you buy, the cheaper the per credit price. Users can also buy subscriptions, which further lower the cost of each download.
  2. iStockPhoto.com ($1-50 per photograph and illustration, $15-$100 for videos, and $1-$10 for Flash files) (http://www.istockphoto.com)
    iStockphoto is by far my favorite. They cost a little more but I find it easier to use and often find what I need in less time. Plus, they offer certain images exclusive to this site. It is set up similarly to Dreamstime. Users have a choice between credits and subscriptions. The more you buy, the lower the price per download.
  3. ShutterStock.com ($3-$10 per photograph and illustration) (http://www.shutterstock.com)
    Shutterstock requires a subscription (as low as $49) to download from their 6.6+ million-image library. If you are a high-volume user, this is the best choice, because larger subscriptions equal low-cost graphics.
  4. StockExpert.com ($1-$25 per photograph and illustration) (http://www.stockxpert.com) Credits and subscriptions give you the graphics you want from their huge library. This site is owned by Juniper who owns other stock image sites (like Photos.com). However, I prefer the user experience and the better selection of graphics at StockExpert.
  5. Stock.XCHNG (free) (http://www.sxc.hu)
    Stock.XCHNG is a great site if you need basic, professional images. Plus, all their images are free!
  6. BigStockPhoto.com ($1-$50 per photograph and illustration) (http://www.bigstockphoto.com)
    Choose from a library of over three million images. Like other sites, users purchase credits and use those credits to download graphics.
  7. BrandsOfTheWorld.com (free) (http://www.brandsoftheworld.com)
    Thousands of popular brand and corporate logos from around the world are available to download for free. Most logos are vector, which means they are resolution independent and can be scaled to any size.
  8. Pixellogo ($39 per logo) (http://www.pixellogo.com)
    One hundred pages of high-quality logos from which to choose. I recommend owning Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator if you wish to modify your new logo. Exclusive rights to use the logos are available for more money.
  9. StockLayouts ($39-$99 per brochure, newsletter, or other marketing document) (http://www.stocklayouts.com)
    StockLayouts offers thousands of brochures, flyers, newsletters, business cards, letterheads, postcards, posters, ads, and more in almost any format you choose.
  10. Cool Home Pages ($40 per website template) (http://www.coolhomepages.com/store/) Do you need a website but don’t want to spend thousands on design? At Cool Home Pages, you can find your dream website and download it for almost nothing compared to the cost of a custom design. I recommend hiring a web designer for backend programming and adding any extras to your new design. They can do it faster and better for a small investment on your part. Plus, it will still be cheaper than paying them to design and layout a new site.
Now you know my favorite graphic resources. Use them to increase the quality of your presentations, websites, and marketing materials. Success will come faster and your income will rise, because perception is reality. What your audience sees plays a BIG role in what they think and do.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Emotions Play a Major Role in Decision Making

If you know my process for developing powerful presentations, proposals, and marketing materials then you know a big part of success involves emotions. Below is a story shared with me by Rob Ransone of Ransone Associates (www.ransone.com). It is another story that proves the power of emotions in the decision making process...

On my proposal for Armtec, an Esterline Company, for its decoy flares proposal to the Army, they were one of two incumbents making flares. The Army wanted two contractors so that if one line burned, the other could still produce. These two were bidding for a new flare contract, with the "winner" getting 55% and the second place getting 45% of the contract. A new, startup company now entered the picture with a completely modern plant.

Armtec was concerned about its Quality Program--it had all of the requirements, but lacked some of the "bells and whistles." I opened the Quality Section with the following email from a young airman in Iraq, whose father worked at Armtec:

“Last night, unfortunately, we had to put dad’s flares to the test 86 times as (our C-130 was) targeted by a series of ground launched weapons right after takeoff from a classified location. The flares worked excellent, or I would probably not be here typing this to you today...” - An email from the son of our M206 flare case supplier

Also, I was impressed with the dedication and interest of the workers ... manufacturing the flares, so I had a company photographer photograph them doing their jobs. He did an outstanding job, and also got statements from them. I used these photos and statements in the illustration of Armtec's manufacturing process.

As a result, Armtec's evaluation and the other incumbent's were identical, except that the other bidder was scored "Good" on Quality, and Armtec was scored "Excellent," Armtec got the 55% award, bought the third bidder, and is now the world's largest manufacturer of decoy flares.