The best way to ensure a good follow-up is to do a killer job on the current assignment. There is no substitute for pure awesomeness and art directors love working with people they don’t have to spend a lot of time managing. In my world of illustration, the artists’ names I hear art directors mention over and over are the ones who always deliver and exceed expectations. The way they usually follow up is by picking up the phone when the art director calls!
If you haven’t yet built that rock-star rep and aren’t selling out solo shows to stadiums full of art buyers, there are a few proven techniques to keep connections with existing clients warm.
Thank-you notes are still really nice, even thank-you emails. Every time I complete a job, even for a repeat client, I send a nice note, card or small token of thanks. I let them know I enjoyed working with them and that I’m excited about what we created together.
Some clients are so busy they don’t have time to share their own feelings on the project with you. By telling them it was great, you plant a little seed – and they might suddenly think it was, too!
Lauren Panepinto, AD at Orbit Books, said she spends a lot of time on Facebook and looks for new work there. She likes friend requests from artists and she likes to see new work and professional feeds. She finds friend connections to be a great source of new talent and to see what her current stable is working on.
Lauren said she still loves the occasional email update with new and relevant work. How often? “Whenever there is something worth showing,” she says.
To be safe, do an email update once a quarter, either directly or via a newsletter. Steve Argyle, freelance artist and AD at Alderac Entertainment Group, says that getting a quarterly email is a great way to get on the AD’s radar – and not their nerves.
For more tips on using the social web, check out my 3 Rules for Successful Social Media Marketing.
I still send the occasional postcard with a personal note. Double bonus if the image on the card is either new or something the client will recognize. I recently spoke with an art rep who showed a lot of interest in my work and in one image in particular; you can bet he’ll be getting a postcard with that image and a note saying how nice it was to review my portfolio with him.
The rules for postcards are a lot like those for email. Read Standing Out With Personal Emails for some tips.
Seeing people face-to-face is a great way to follow up with a client you like. This is certainly easier for people in metropolitan areas, and easier to do with art directors who attend trade shows.
For those clients who aren’t out and about, you can try setting up a meeting when you’re in town. Show that you respect their time and offer to drop by the office to deliver a new sample. If you have a closer relationship you can make a coffee date. The personal invite is a fine line; you don’t want to come off as needy or pushy, so keep it friendly and business-casual.
Most of these suggestions are pretty inside-the-box. So find ways to differentiate yourself.
Here’s one idea: Instead of a postcard, try replacing the label on a box of the client’s favorite chocolates with your own label, imagery and URL. When I lived in San Francisco, I got a friend at Pixar to hand a bottle of wine to the animation lead there. I had removed the label and replaced it with my own art and a brief bio. The wine also came with a printed portfolio. I ended up getting to meet the animation lead; this wasn’t a repeat client, but the lesson stands.
Now that you have the tools for an effective post-project follow-up, what are some ways you might be creative with these tips? Comment and share below!
Marc Scheff is an illustrator whose work has appeared in publications including Spectrum, ImagineFX, and more. Marc has taught illustration at the Academy of Art University, podcasts with the good people at Drawn Today, and recently co-founded Awesome Horse Studios, the free livestream demo/crit channel. See and learn more at: Marc Scheff
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