The most successful promotion is the one that gets people talking about your work. It can take many forms and be cheap or expensive to produce: some promotional pieces are quiet and thought-provoking, while others are just marketing stunts. How can you package one of the best images you’ve ever taken?
Whose attention are you trying to get? Are they young or seasoned? Do they live in an urban area or middle market? Are they a specialized business, or are they known for being creative? I’ve seen the sea of promotions that hit my colleagues’ desks, and it’s not always pretty. Creatives don’t need another water bottle or flash drive, especially when the item only has your logo on it.
If you’re going to spend some money, do your research and put together a targeted list of 20 to 30 clients. Reaching out to a small, focused group can make the promotion feel more focused. It’s not about the mass appeal – it’s about making an impression that says, “I’m perfect for your next job.”
Their desk or office shelf is a coveted spot. If you can make it there, chances are you’ll stay there for a long time. I always aim for clever and airing on the “kitschy” side. If you can figure out something that strikes a chord with the client, they’ll feel a kinship with you. That unique promotional piece will create an experience that emotionally connects your images with them. An image that stops someone in their tracks, presented in a way that reveals something about your vision, can get you on the shortlist.
Once you’ve sent out something clever, don’t forget to follow up. You might not get a meeting right away, which is why it is important to remind them about yourself. Send a personal note with a postcard. Limit the copy – again, you want them to remember the visual. If you’re going to send an email, it has to have a clever, catchy, subject line that isn’t trying to “trick” the recipient – the good ones always get opened.
Here’s one of photographer Michelle Pedone’s catchy promotions:
As part of Michelle’s marketing campaign, she designed a postcard and sent 5000 out to a select group of art buyers, art directors, and photo editors. “Be Mine” was awarded in 2011 by American Photography 27.
Karen D'Silva is one of today's most influential creatives in the commercial photography community. She founded Karen DSilva Creative Services, a trend, marketing and research company designed to help photographers understand the marketplace, find where their images fit, and profile and market to clients who share the same photographic vision. She is also currently a Creative Consultant at Agency Access.
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