Let me list off an invoice for you. $250 – artwork resizing. $14,000 – Flash video production. $9,000 – website coding. $990 – brochure print, trim, and shipping. $2,000 – Creative (?). Are you uncomfortable yet? I’m furious. But why would I be? We can all agree that for quality (or premium) graphic design, the pocketbook is going to take a hit, right? But there comes a time when you question whether your pocketbook has taken a hit or if you’ve just been a victim of hit-and-run graphic design charges.

When I assumed control of the marketing budget at my credit union and began to process through the previous year’s invoices, I was reminded of that moment in Braveheart when Robert the Bruce betrayed William Wallace. The shock, the horror, the helplessness! But there is hope in this story, friends. Shortly after discovering how much was (or wasn’t) left in my budget, I made the conscious decision to stop the bleeding and take a proactive approach to saving money. One of the first steps was to take responsibility for the graphic design projects at the credit union – something that had never previously been done internally.

I know that when some of you hear the words “graphic” and “design” in the same phrase, you picture a hipster college student in a coffee house on their MacBook sipping half-caf soy macchiato’s whilst jamming out to Ben Folds Five. Yes, that’s a real picture. But it’s a very narrow view of the context in which graphic design is developed. Most credit union marketers have the creative perspective. They know what they want to see in a postcard, newsletter, website, or TV commercial. All that’s left is executing the vision.

In the immortal words of Nacho Libre, “Let’s get down to the nitty gritty.” You’re a little afraid of Photoshop. You like Flash (as long as someone else is creating it), and you’re not even sure what Dreamweaver is, besides a classic rock song by Gary Wright. But you’re a credit union manager, and one of the most powerful forces known to mankind! Declare war on your graphic design projects by bringing them in-house and saving your budget from sure and utter destruction. Learning a design suite of programs is not as ominous as it seems. Believe it or not, 99% of what you need to know is provided on the programmer’s website and YouTube. What isn’t covered can be found at a local community college and a local photographer or newspaper editor can be a great source of answers.

In a rebel cry of “FREEDOM!!!” resolve to master this one aspect of your marketing efforts and not only reclaim a once-lost portion of your budget, but become more relevant, push a fresh image, and be actively involved in the engagement of your members.