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Promoting North of the Border Post CASL

On Canada Day, July 1st, a new law went into effect that is making it more difficult for freelancers to promote to potential Canadian clients. The new law is called Canadian Anti Spam Legislation or CASL for short. The intent of this law is ostensibly to keep fraudulent foreign princes from trying to launder money with you, or to protect Canadians from false advertising of how much products are actually marked down. So essentially before that July 1st deadline, you were to ask permission from prospects to continue sending emails to them promoting your creative services. It’s unclear how they would find and fine anyone (up to one million dollars!) for sending an email campaign to Canadian art directors or art buyers, but it’s a side of the law I’d like to avoid. Email promotion to potential Canadian clients has worked very well for me, but I’d like to go over a few alternatives to help you to continue to promote to the Canadian Market.

Understand and research who you are marketing to.

There are two types of potential clients that I market to – suitable clients and feasible clients. Suitable clients are the type of publications and brands who work with your creative style, aka your bread and butter. It should be very clear that your work and their needs are an easy match. Feasible clients are potential clients who you’d least likely work for, but there is something there which could potentially work (such as an art director who may be looking for the right spot to fill you in on). They may not be a super obvious match for your work, but it’s also not a complete hail mary. Once you’ve gone through your list of Canadian clients through your Agency Access account, you’re now ready to market to this small segmented list.

The ole physical mailer.

The reason why you are using email promotion for the Canadian market in the first place is because it’s an affordable option. Now that that options seems to be off the table, it’s time to revisit direct mail promotion. Unlike the American market, the Canadian market is much smaller. So you would be sending a smaller mailing in the first place anyway. Here are some suggestions for moving forward with physical promotion:

  •  I recommend sending 2 to 4 postcards a year to both your suitable clients and feasible clients. Because you’re spending a little over a dollar to send out a single postcard, just go straight for the oversized card and hand-address each one. Since your list is focused, it shouldn’t take more than two or three afternoons to hand address and stamp each one.
  •  Twice a year, send a packet of printed goods to your suitable clients and favorite feasible clients. This care package could include a packet of post cards, stickers, buttons, custom pencils, memo pads, etc. By sending them something more than a post card, you’re trying to do something else to convince your potential client that you’d like to work with them.
  •  While I am on the subject of packets, think about the design of the packet. Are you taking the extra steps to design a printed envelope and mailer that stands out from the rest? Instead of sealing it with clear masking tape, why not use patterned washi tape? Create a custom stamp, or screen print something fun on the envelope.

Setting up a portfolio review via cold call.

Ever since the internet became a tool for creative people to use, the old cold call followed by a portfolio review became passe. At the same time, because less and less people have come into their offices to meet face to face, more art directors and art buyers are warming to the idea of you coming in. So if you happen to live in a Canadian city like Toronto or are planning a visit, it’s a good idea to call a week or two in advance to see if they can make time for you. 

Social media is where the digital water cooler is.

Following art directors and art buyers on Instagram and Twitter can be helpful in this post-CASL world. Instagram is great to show an in-progress shot of a final piece, or a crop-in of a final piece which links to your Tumblr blog. This tactic gets a potential client pretty jazzed about new work you have coming down the pike. On top of that, I post other things to show a balance that I have a life outside of illustration. Twitter is great to interact one on one with potential people and talk about all of the cool things they are working on, and eventually they will be pretty psyched to know more about your upcoming jobs. So if a trip up north isn’t an option, you can still count on the internet in other ways. These are just a few ways you can think about getting around CASL to promote to the Canadian Market. Have other ideas on how to enhance marketing to our northern neighbors? Write it out in the comments below and we’ll create a follow up post to add some more tools to our tool belt.

Daniel Fishel

Daniel Fishel is an illustrator and hand letterer who originally hails from the Keystone state but resides in Queens, NY. Daniel's has worked with a range of clients such as The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Nylon Guys Magazine, Arizona Iced Tea, Lands End, No Sleep Records and many others. His work has been recognized by American Illustration, the Society of illustrators and 3x3 Magazine.

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