By Jerry Kennelly, founder of Tweak.com

The cost of hiring an external designer can be prohibitively expensive for small businesses, but the importance of having professional-looking, well designed marketing materials cannot be understated. Here, we share our top tips for businesses that are looking to design their marketing materials in-house.

1. It is important that small businesses create a recognisable brand image. The first step in the design process is to choose your colours, font and logo so that you are able to replicate the same look and feel across everything you produce. It’s crucial to have these in place before you look at designing individual pieces of marketing materials.

2. A well-designed logo is an important part of your overall brand image. It acts as a starting point for designing the rest of your marketing materials in terms of informing the colours and font you use across your marketing materials.

3. Choose your marketing materials carefully. Use your local press for advertising. Once you’ve established your brand through your logo, images, colours and font, it’s easy to translate this into a well-designed advert. Be innovative — don’t be afraid to try something new. For example, if you’re a hotel, you could send Christmas greeting cards to your mailing list with weekend breaks.

4. Take this a step further and look at seasonal and calendar hooks for creating individual marketing campaigns. For example, you may want to give customers a special offer around Easter or New Year. Draw attention to your offer by changing the images and text in your marketing materials to make them more seasonally appropriate.

5. Now you have your customer’s attention, it is important to tell them what action you want them to take. This can be anything from telling them to visit your website or store, follow you on twitter or take advantage of a special offer.