How to Get Great Graphic Design at a Reasonable Price with Lightboard

Graphic Design Lightboard

This week on Marketing Marvels, I want to introduce you to Lightboard, a fantastic design solution plus technology platform that acts as an extension of your in-house sales and marketing team.

Full Episode Details

Graphic Design LightboardThis week on Marketing Marvels, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Lightboard, a graphic design solution we use almost daily here at Convince and Convert.

Lightboard works as an extension of an in-house design team, collaborating primarily with marketing managers to produce sales and marketing collateral—presentations (PowerPoint, Keynote, InDesign), case studies, sales sheets, and eBooks. They also design and develop landing pages and email templates (WordPress, HubSpot, Marketo, Mailchimp, etc).

Lightboard does a lot of illustration for us here at Convince & Convert. From editorial graphics to landing pages to emails and more — they do the design or actual implementation within any of the standard service like WordPress, or just straight up HTML and CSS. They’re fantastic — easy to work with and extremely talented.

Here to walk us through how it all works is Brad Bouse, CEO & Founder of Lightboard. I really love this design firm built around software, and I’m thrilled that Brad is here to show it to you. Enjoy!

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Episode Transcript

Jay Baer: Hey everybody, it's Jay Baer from Convince & Convert. Welcome to another episode of Marketing Marvels, the demonstration and conversation show where I find resources to help you become a better marketer.
Today, we have a very special guest on the Marketing Marvels program, somebody who runs a company that I use almost every single day at Convince & Convert, a trusted partner of ours for more than two years. It's Brad Bouse who is the Co-Founder and CEO of a company called Lightboard, which does outsourced highly professional, super awesome design of a lot of the stuff that you see coming from me and the Convince & Convert team, and lots of other business people and marketers from all around the world. Brad, welcome to Marketing Marvels. 
Brad Bouse: Thanks, Jay. Great to be here. A long time listener, first time caller. 
Jay Baer: We're going to have a special offer for you at the end of the show as well, that Brad has generously made to those of you who watch Marketing Marvels. So stay tuned for that at the end. We'll tell you how to save some cash on Lightboard Services. 
Okay, explain to the people at home, I mean everybody who watches this show knows what design is. They know what web design is, they know what brochure design is, they know what PowerPoint design is, they know what email design is, clearly if you're tuning into this program.   Why would somebody want to use Lightboard as opposed to some freelancer or an agency, or whatever?
Brad Bouse: Great. Lightboard is a byte-sized creative services department. What we provide for you is an [inaudible] design team that largely supports marketing teams. There are a lot of different ways to get design. Freelancers are what a lot of our smaller customers use.  Freelancers are great in that they're usually very flexible with price. They're usually very available. But the problem is, is that they're inherently freelancers, and they might have them on one project and then the next project they're backpacking through Nepal and that doesn't give you the consistency of a business to business relationship. 
Jay Baer: WiFi sucks in Nepal, that's the problem. 
Brad Bouse: Yeah, yeah. Well, and working with a few contractors ourselves, we have experienced that. Nepal, and Australia, and New Zealand. There's a lot of the digital nomads. So, freelancers don't really let you plan for an annual budget. They don't let you plan a  consistent, reliable resource. You certainly could go to an agency. There are a lot of great local agencies around the country. Agencies tend to want to work on bigger projects, and what happens with the modern marketing department is that you really need a lot of small projects. You need incremental help with any sort of inbound campaign that you're running, you might need an e-book, a landing page, display ads. It's a bunch of small projects. 
Jay Baer: Wow, that is a small project. This project is so small there's no lights now in Brad's office. This is ... I'm not sure what has happened here. We're making sure that Brad Bouse is okay, and the office of Lightboard in Seattle, Washington ... okay. Things are all right. Everything good? 
Brad Bouse: Yeah, the motion sensor's covered up by that sign. So it just didn't think that I was still alive. 
Jay Baer: The echo from the office, that's it. You know, you're in Seattle, you've got to do it, and it didn't think you were still here. Were standing so still that the office thought that you were not actually there. Please, finish.
Brad Bouse: Yeah, it's not our usual presentation. The freelancers, designers, freelancers and agency. An agency is not necessarily geared to deal with the small projects that a modern marketing department needs. The other option is that you could hire an in-house designer.  For an in-house designer, you actually have to manage that designer and that's a challenge. So what we've done with Lightboard is try and take the best of all three of these options and make a new type of service. We're 100% online. What we provide our customers is an Account Manager who is their one point of contact for all their projects.  Jay, we work primarily with Kelly from your team. And Kelly works with Devin. Devin has worked with Kelly these last two years. We understand your brand. When Kelly comes in with a new project, we don't have to reinvent the wheel. We know what your stuff looks like. We know Kelly's working style. So we can really quickly and efficiently knock out these projects.  That happens for all of our customers, regardless of size, everyone gets an Account Manager. That Account Manager is the person in your corner that speaks both Marketing Manager and designer to be able to be a translator between those two parties. Then, make sure that the projects are delivered quickly and efficiently.  We're very fast. We'll start any project the next business day after we get the approval of [inaudible], and all our materials together. Usually, we can turn around a project within a business week, certainly two weeks. We always have a designer available between our network of staff designers here and then skilled specialists around the country that we work with. 
Jay Baer: You may want to demonstrate this in PowerPoint format or presentation format, but are there types of design that you wouldn't do? Like, we're not going to build a mobile app or whatever. There maybe some sort of pieces and parts of the design ecosystem, and you're like, "This is just not really the thing that we offer."
Brad Bouse: Sure. I think that the design that requires much more context than the actual craft of design. Software development, we don't do beyond making a WordPress side all set up on balance pages or HubSpot pages, or email templates. But something that requires a lot of complicated UX, where really you need to be in the room and you need to have a very close longterm working relationship is not the type of projects that we do.  The other types of projects, we primarily work with Marketing Managers or marketing teams, where they have worked with professional designers in the past, and they're sort of acquainted with budgets and timelines, and a little bit of the mechanics that it takes to get a project done well.  It's more of a struggle for us when we're working with people that are working with professional designers for the first time.
Jay Baer: I hadn't thought about that, but I can certainly see that as an issue, right? When people just don't really know how to scope a job or describe a job, or they think you could do it overnight or whatever the circumstances may be. 
Brad Bouse: Yeah, I mean obviously we're a professional services business, and we make a margin on what we pay everyone. When a designer has to spend a lot of time figuring out what you really mean, that's time that nobody really wants to pay for. It doesn't really work well for our system. But I can show you some of the projects that are good.
Jay Baer: We've used Lightboard for so many things like web pages, ads, pop ups, emails. I don't even know how many projects we've done together, but it's dozens, and dozens, and dozens, and dozens, and dozens. 
Brad Bouse: Yeah, certainly. We've done e-books, email, templates, a lot display ads, a lot of things you can see on the [inaudible] website we have done. The basic service offering that we offer: Presentations, case studies, anything that ends up as a PDF, PowerPoint, sales decks, anything like an e-book. We do those all the time.  We do lots of illustration. Illustration is a great way to customize your brand. We have done illustration for Convince & Convert, as well as a number of other customers. Editorial graphics, everything from editorial graphics to just explaining how a product works through illustration. Landing pages and email templates, as best as we can ... either do the design or actual implementation within any of the standard sort of services like a WordPress [inaudible], or just straight up HTML and CSS.  Email templates, we work with all of the major providers to plug those in for you. Lots of display ads. This is a little bit of the process of how a project works. A big part of working with our customers is how we go from the idea that they have in their head to a completely finished project. This is a really common brief. A customer actually just sent us a Word document that was a text that we'll use for the e-book.  We took that Word document and then...
Jay Baer: And it's a significant upgrade to the previous Google Doc. 
Brad Bouse: Yeah, and I think that a lot of people, as they're dealing with professional design for the first time, understanding exactly what a designer can do, given enough space to work, is hard. That's why we have built a system around Account Managers, so that to understand, "Hey, you don't need to give us an exact drawing of what you want. You can just give us the right reference images and blueprint, and we can take something from this into this, or we can go-" This is work that we did with one of our customers, UserMind.  UserMind is a great example of the type of customers that work well with us. UserMind just raised a large financing round, but they hadn't really spent a lot of time working on their actual branding. They came to us to do a brand refresh. What we helped UserMind do is start to look like the company that they were now, after they raised all that money. 
Jay Baer: Sure.
Brad Bouse: We have done a professional, full polished, modern appearance. This is what they look like now. We have a little bit of before and after for them. This was their sales deck before, which looks fine...
Jay Baer: It's okay, yeah. 
Brad Bouse: The colors don't exactly pop, but you get the idea. You get some arrows, and bar charts and things like that. Then we took it and we transitioned it to look like this, which looks like a designed experience that looked modern. The colors are better. The copy is a little clearer, and then the actual what they're trying to represent looks better. 
Jay Baer: Yeah. Love it. 
Brad Bouse: Usually just for the website alone, it would be in many cases, that. So to do that, plus the whole brand refresh, plus the other assets, that really is a good deal.  Yeah, and the promise of Lightboard is that we can really quite cost effectively deliver this work. It's spoke work, it's working hand in hand with the customers. We did quite a thorough branding process with them to give them different options for this, establish what direction we want to go, and then delivered not just the case studies, presentations, website, redid all their conference, their booth collateral, their business cards. The whole suite for UserMind that we've redone over time.
Jay Baer: I think it's important to recognize that Lightboard offers really high quality design, and the majority of the designers that Lightboard employs are right there in the home office where Brad is joining us from in Seattle. There's some other designers in different cities around the US, but this isn't a Brad goes and finds a designer for $10.00 an hour on Fiverr in Indonesia, and then marks it up and then uses that designer to do your project.  It's just multiple steps above that. Not that there's anything wrong with those kinds of systems. I've used them in the past for other projects myself, but that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about super high quality design execution, really great people to work with. The Lightboard is extraordinarily customer focused, which I really appreciate. And you're just going to get great design at a reasonable price.  As Brad mentioned, the real competition here is hiring a designer on your own team, or using sort of a full fledged design agency that happens to be in your city. There's definitely circumstances when both of those might be a better approach, but for certainly companies like mine and a lot of other folks who might be watching Marketing Marvels, the way Lightboard is set up is really a superior model.  You just get more for your dollar than you would otherwise. Can you talk a little bit more, Brad, about the memberships and how that works? 
Brad Bouse: I can, but I can also speak to the point that you just made. I actually started my career at full service, big Hollywood agencies. I switched to start ups. My own dissatisfaction with the traditional agency model is that it's not always in the best service of the customers.  with Lightboard, you're not going to get a sales guy with a Rolex that comes in and tries to [inaudible] on selling you much more than you need. We really just focus on doing the work, and we are focused on the quality of craftsmanship and not on the more what kind of tends to be ego-driven design of a big agency.
Jay Baer: Fair. 
Brad Bouse: We try not to have a big fuss about it. 
Jay Baer: Rolex-free at Lightboard. That's going to be the new tagline. Now you can never get a Rolex now, you realize that. You're now on a recording saying that [inaudible] naked with... Because Brad is also a brand new father, by the way, ladies and gentlemen. His first daughter was just born three and a half months ago. So he is not only doing exceptional design for me and other people out there, but is fighting through sleep deprivation and new baby circumstances: diapers, the whole deal. So, good on you.
Brad Bouse: Sleep deprived, no watches, but delighted with...
Jay Baer: With the outcome. 
Brad Bouse: Yeah. All right, so the designers that we work with are the same people that you find in those agencies. We are usually taking people that are working in the agencies and then working here, and we've eliminated all of the overhead that goes into an agency. We don't have the big bagel place, and the fancy conference room. We just focus on doing the work.  This is one of those cases where we pass the savings along to our customers. The way that we structure our pricing is through monthly memberships. The memberships are allocations of hours every month, that works similar to a retainer. We actually started pricing everything by the hour, like any freelancer or agency would. We ended up finding that we were spending more time talking about how much things would cost than actually doing the design.  With memberships here, it's basically all you can eat. You create a project. Our accounts team starts working on it. We'll do an [inaudible] estimate of the hours, and maybe we'll check in if it might be out of sync with what the retainer level is at. But we start doing the work. A lot of times, the design projects they might go faster than you'd expect.  We spend all of our time working on the design instead of a lot of time estimating it. So memberships start at ... we do quarterly pricing. They start at $2,250 a month, and that gives you about enough to support a marketing team that does inbound marketing, maybe where they have two to five Marketing Managers.  For some of our customers, we go all the way up to more like supporting a full-time employee level. That's where we're supporting a team of maybe 10 to 20 people. On their side, they come to Lightboard to do all of their graphic design. The great thing about Lightboard is that we've built it to be a team app, so on your team we have Kristen that's requesting projects, and you've requested projects, and Kelly's requested projects.  But don't actually have to be everybody on the team to have to be involved in every project, and independently request projects from Lightboard. Because Devin is the Account Manager Jay, you know that when you request a project, it's going to look the same as it has when Kelly requests a project [crosstalk]-
Jay Baer: Yeah, that's really key that you get the same person every time, because if you just sort of get into the random collection of different designers, then you've got to explain everything all over again, and "Here's how we like it. Here's what we've done in the past. Here's what's worked," and it's such a waste of time. It's so inefficient for both sides. So the fact that there's a one point of contact is terrific, and the interface is really easy to use.  As Brad said, Lightboard is not the type of design firm who's going to come sit in your conference room. It's not how it's set up. It's all online. So one of their reasons the projects get requested and turned, and executed so efficiently is that you really do have a nice online interface to kind of manage and guide all that stuff. 
Brad Bouse: Yeah, and I can show that you to now.  So this is the Lightboard interface. It's a standard project management sort of tool. It is a home page. Our organization here is called Lorem & Ipsum, which is our demo organization. Every project comes with, when you create your account, you upload your logo, your colors, any brand assets that you might have, your fonts, and then some other work that represents what the brand-
Jay Baer: It'd be stuff that you've liked in the past that maybe somebody else did or what you? 
Brad Bouse: Yeah, or if you're sharing collateral, like whatever your existing brand [crosstalk] function a little bit as a digital Asset Manager. Every one of those logos, colors and fonts comes with every project that you create through Lightboard. So, we don't have to ask, "Hey, do you have a vector version of your logo? What's that font?" We know it. That helps us save time.  To create a project, we have basically a shopping cart of different types of projects that we can do. We can do any type of design project, but we have a few starters for you. Presentation design is one of our most common. We can upload anything in KeyNote, PowerPoint and Designer PDF. There's a little bit of a description of how the project works, and then you create a brief.  The brief is a small form that walks you through basically all the things that you usually need when you're creating a project. So I'm going to say that this is a sales [inaudible] redesign, and I happen to have a file that I can upload, my current document. I can say, "You know-"
Jay Baer: Make this not bad. 
Brad Bouse: Current document, great. I want to redesign, et cetera, et cetera. I submit it, and now what you see here, the picture on the left, Madeline is my Account Manager, so she's handling all of Lorem & Ipsum's projects. She gets an email. She'll field this request, and she'll get it started for me.  In this case, because that was a very poor brief, she probably [crosstalk]-
Jay Baer: It's very short, very short. 
Brad Bouse: Not quite enough for us to get started with. She would suggest reschedule call. We are 100% online, but we get on the phone all the time with our customers. Most of the collaboration happens online, but there are some things that you just need to work out over the phone. So it's always accessible that we can schedule a call with your Account Manager. You can also invite your team, so anybody else on the organization can come on in.  Now Jane, when she joins the project, will be able to work on it with me. If I want to chat, I can say-
Jay Baer: And they keep all the communications right there in the system. That's really great, as opposed to having to hunt through all your emails. 
Brad Bouse: Right. So not only we get back to you with an estimate, what we can look at here is past projects. 
Jay Baer: Great. 
Brad Bouse: Here's the example project of what the art looks like once it's uploaded. In this case, the Account Manager has submitted it to us, and we can review [inaudible] this is a branding project that we did. You can flip through the different options, and then leave comments here. I can add my teammates, and basically all of this goes ... it sends out emails to the right people.
Jay Baer: That's great. 
Brad Bouse: The nice thing about what this does is that for you, Jay, that you're not involved with every project that Convince & Convert does through Lightboard, you can tune into Lightboard and see what's going on-
Jay Baer: Yep.
Brad Bouse: And see what's happened. You can basically read a project to see the history of what's happened. In this case, this is an example of the back and forth that we typically do on a project where customer uploads the first round, they give us some feedback, we chat back and forth and then we'll give them a schedule as to when they're going to get the next round.  You can see the whole process of this project of how it went back and forth, and doing different rounds. We don't limit the number of rounds that we do for customers. That's generally a big concern when people are getting started with us. We don't limit the number of rounds, we always give you the source files. We really function much more as an in-house team. We're not trying to do anything tricky about [crosstalk]-
Jay Baer: To run up your bill, or spend extra hours or what have you. 
Brad Bouse: Yeah, we want to do the best job that we can for you. This is how the interface works. You can zoom in on any of the projects, download the work whenever you need to, if you need to review it elsewhere. Then, always invite new people in. We have the concept that you can invite people in just to review a project, or you can invite them in that can create projects.  That's a little bit about how Lightboard works, the app and the interface. 
Jay Baer: So easy. It keeps everything in one place. You can communicate in one place, download in one place, upload in one place. You can see all the dates there. You know exactly what's going on. What I really like about this interface, and I've worked with so many designers in my career -like 50, is that there's never a black hole. There's never an, "I don't know, I guess they're working on it." Which is always sort of the concern. You just don't have visibility into what's happening. This really solves that problem.  Everybody knows where everything is. Everybody is clear on timelines. Everybody's clear on delivery. It just eliminates a lot of the uncertainty that not only wastes time, but it just creates that nagging sense of, "Is this going to get done when we want it to get done?" So I just really love the certain PM, this system, it's really, really well done. 
Brad Bouse: We're really focused on providing transparency for customers, that they always know where the project's at, and that we're always available. It is something that an agency can get away with. It's really hard to kind of get them on the phone. When you do need something, and you do have a deadline and it's a hard deadline where there's a problem, everybody's instinct is to avoid that problem. 
Jay Baer: I'm out of the office. 
Brad Bouse: And that's not really the best thing that you need with a partner. So with Lightboard, we're very transparent. It's difficult that we have to deal with some of those scheduling problems when things come up, but we found that taking a very transparent approach to that has been effective in creating better relationships with the customers. 
Jay Baer: Well, as Brad indicates, I think you may even have a coffee to this effect, everyone deserves a great design. There it is, everyone deserves great design. Right there. I could not agree more. Great design is not out of your reach, it is in your reach. Brad and his team at Lightboard can absolutely help you the way that they help us at Convince & Convert. Memberships on a quarterly basis start at just $2,200.00 a month, which is a really good deal considering how much work you can deliver in that amount of hours.  I will also say that Brad has generously made this offer to Marketing Marvel's listeners and viewers like you. If you go to Lightboard.io, remember that, Lightboard.io/Marvels, we'll put the URL right down here. Lightboard.io/Marvels, you will get a quarterly membership at the annual rate, which saves you $750.00, which is fantastic. Brad, thank you very much for doing that. That was very kind of you. 
Brad Bouse: Of course. We look forward to working with the Marketing Marvels viewers.
Jay Baer: Quick question for you before we depart, what is a Marketing Marvel for you? What's a piece of software or solution that you can't live without, that maybe our viewers don't about? 
Brad Bouse: We use Customer.io for our marketing email automation, and I really enjoyed it. I started my career as a designer, but has transitioned to be mostly a software developer. I really like how technical it is. It's been great how well you can weave it into your app to do triggered email campaigns. 
Jay Baer: Nice.
Brad Bouse: We've enjoyed working with them. They also have a lovely little brand, and their pigeon friend is very charming. 
Jay Baer: Excellent. There you hear it. Customer.io, we will link that up in the show notes as well, friends. Don't forget we do new episodes of Marketing Marvels on a regular basis. If you subscribe to the YouTube channel, you will never miss an episode. If you're not sure where that is, go to bit.ly/marketingmarvels, all lowercase. That's bit.ly/marketingmarvels, all lowercase.  Brad, thanks again for being here. I really appreciate it. Thanks for all the great work on behalf of us and all your clients. 
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