Small businesses often grapple with creation of promotional materials, hindered by the need for specialised graphic and image creation skills.

This article delves into the typical small business promotion process, highlighting the crucial role of graphic and image creation across various awareness and lead-generation tactics.

With the advent of AI-driven tools, the landscape is shifting. These platforms offer simplified, cost-effective solutions for graphic creation, potentially enabling in-house production and reducing dependency on external agencies.

The Small Business Marketing Process

Let’s look at a typical small business promotion process. To be clear, I don’t necessarily agree with this process, I simply suggest it is typical.

Awareness Tactics

Social media posting.
Website & local SEO.
Blogging.
Networking, events and sponsorships.
Brochures and literature.

Lead Generation Tactics

Google My Business/Bing Local.
Direct mail.
Email marketing.
Online & Social media ads.

Each of the tactics shown in italics requires some graphical/image input. Obviously, there is some overlap. A single tactic can fall under the awareness and lead generation heading.

To date, graphical/image input has been a problem for small businesses. Their creation required some level of specialist skills. The Adobe Creative Suite used by many freelancers and agencies took time to learn.

Without the skills or the time to learn, many small businesses outsourced promotional activities they could otherwise have completed in-house. The introduction of AI (deep learning) tools has changed the game.

Let’s look at just two tools that simplify graphic/image creation. This can allow the small business to bring promotional activity back in-house, saving on freelancer or agency costs.

DALL-E

An image generator that is available as part of a ChatGPT subscription (around £20 per month). Midjourney is an alternative, available for around (basic plan) £8 per month.

DALL-E allows a user to describe in words (a prompt) the image they require and the program generates the response. More prompting will fine-tune the image to match precise needs.

Is it possible to spot if the image is AI-generated, often yes. That said DALL-E and Midjourney are so widely used, does it really matter.

CANVA

A graphics program that has been available for years but now has an AI-driven element known as MagicSuite. The cost starts at around £13 for a single user per month. A real bargain, in my humble opinion.

Canva allows a user with basic design skills to produce a range of promotional materials, from postcards to videos. It delivers multiple templates and the MagicSuite aids creation step by step.

Will these tools allow a small business to create promotional materials to the same standard as the very best designers and creators? No, they will not. However, they will deliver material equivalent to that produced by most freelancers and agencies.

Will a business need to invest some time and effort into learning these tools? Well yes, but much of that learning can be based on diving in and trying them out.

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