Raise your hand if you've ever "fixed" something important with duct tape. Come on, you know who you are.

I'll admit it—I know I'm guilty. In college, during a particularly low-income quarter, I fixed my broken backpack with duct tape because I couldn't afford to buy a new one right away. More recently, I fixed a tent with duct tape while I was camping, because there was simply nothing else around to repair it with. In both cases, these repairs were less-than-ideal but much better than not doing anything to fix a rather urgent problem.

What if your urgent problem is that you have no marketing materials for your business?

There may be several reasons why you don't have marketing materials. Maybe you've just started your business, and you're still testing the waters. Or maybe you're having trouble writing the text for your website or brochure. Perhaps there's a looming trade show or marketing deadline that would rush the creation of your permanent marketing kit. You could also have cash-flow issues that are preventing you from creating your "dream" marketing materials, and you may be hesitant to commit to your business brand for the life of your business.

In any case, having something to market your business with is better than nothing. In some cases, it might even help you get to the next step in your brand.

How can you use temporary materials to help you get to that next step?

Sometimes, having something to market your business with in the short term is more important than having gorgeous, custom-designed materials right away. Even using a simple temporary business card and website can help you get your business off the ground.

You can use a temporary website to test your marketing text to see if it works for your customers and to see what additional questions they have after reading it. You can use temporary cards or brochures to get more clients in the door while you save up for your permanent designs. And you can use them while you get more comfortable with your business brand, so that you can be sure that you're ready to make a long-term commitment.

How can you make a temporary fix that won't hurt your brand in the future?

  • Get the most original temporary materials you can afford. This may mean that you can only get Vistaprint's free template cards (Do pay the small fee to have their name and logo taken off the back, though!) If you can afford to have a little design work done or at least to have a professional look over your materials and give you some feedback, then you can get something that looks a bit more unique for not a lot of money.
  • Simpler temporary designs are often a better choice than more complicated designs. The entire point of having temporary materials is to act as a "patch" for your business—not to stand out against your competition. If you choose a business card or website template with too much visual character, your clients may start associating those with your business, which is not what you want.
  • Design a text-only logo to use on your materials. Instead of committing too quickly to a graphical logo or going with an inexpensive logo because of cash-flow issues, just lay out your business name in a simple font. You can add a bit of personality with color—either through a colored background or applying color to the font directly. Again, you're going for something that will look professional but that won't direct your later graphical efforts. You also don't want to spend money here that would be better spent on a permanent brand.
  • Remember to plan to design a permanent brand when you can. It may be tempting to use temporary materials for the duration of your business—after all, they're complete and ready-to-go. But designing a brand that communicates your business's personality to your target audience when you're ready to commit to these factors can help your business stand out instead of getting lost in the crowd.

These four tips will help you get the most out of a temporary marketing fix and can help you get past your urgent problem and on to the next phase of your business.