Lifestyle and travel photographer (and Agency Access member) Matt Dutile recently tweeted a photo of his newest direct mail promo:
I couldn’t help but tweet back how impressed I was by it! A small conversation ensued, and Matt offered to send one to me. Like any photo enthusiast, I jumped at the chance to receive his cool promo. We all read about them, but it’s pretty rare to actually hold one in your hands unless you’re a potential client. Matt’s promo arrived two weeks later. My first thought: I NEED to know more about the background of this awesome promotion.
C: Everything in this promo is so awesome: The paper clip, the stamps. How did you come up with the concept of this special mail promo? Did you seek outside help from a creative director or graphic designer?
MD: Thanks! I’ve known for awhile that I wanted to make some promos that were authentic to the travel experience – a boarding pass being one of them. When the time finally came with the new direction, I reached out to the amazing crew over at The James Agency (shout-out to Shane, Jamie and Veronique). We worked together two years back to come up with my stamp logo, type font, branding icons and the luggage tag business cards. I knew they would be perfect again for these pieces. They were able to take the ideas I already had and add their own creative input. We bounced back and forth and eventually narrowed it down to something really cool. They presented a few different options for unique clips and envelopes (in addition to the awesome card layouts), and we decided these airplane clips and map envelopes fit perfect with the whole concept.
C: Well, it came out fantastic! But this must have been rather costly and time consuming, right?
MD: A bit of both yes, but it was well worth it in the end. I mean, we’re trying to convince clients to pay us based on the fact that our experience and perspective is worth those extra dollars rather than a stock image they could go pick up. To send them something cheap that doesn’t represent that same idea just seems a bit silly, especially when we’re telling them the details matter. They do matter, and we have to show it in our own work first.
C: I have to say, quite a bit of detail went into the creation of this promo.It’s definitely not something a “new guy on the block” would send. What made you see the value in marketing at this level, as opposed to more traditional tactics like sending emails and regular mail cards?
MD: I’ve gotten some great looks and responses from past targeted emails, but I wanted to send out something people could hold on to. Websites, emails and social media are great and all, but there’s a visceral feel to holding a print photo in your hand. Honestly, I just wanted to send something out that excited me. When I think to myself, “this is cool,” then I know I’m on the right track. The whole point of sending a direct promo is to stand out from all the mail that buyers are flooded with. To me, it just seems logical to package my images in something that will stand out. It shows that you care about the images and all the details around them. It’s a brand experience. For example: picking up a new iPad probably wouldn’t have the same “wow” factor if it came in a brown cardboard box instead of that slick, white packaging. Yes, the product itself has to be great or no amount of packaging will sell it, but that doesn’t mean the packaging is not important.
C: Let’s talk execution. How did you decide who would receive them? Did you send out an email blast first and track your stats and replies, or were they just sent to a targeted list without notice?
MD: I put together a few targeted lists on Agency Access naturally, and sent a few dozen out to past clients or ones I have been courting for a while – those received a short, hand-written note from me as well.
I narrowed my list down to art buyers, art directors and photo editors in the travel/airline/resort sectors. Those are the ones who are going to be much more receptive to my work and who I want to reach. There didn’t seem to be much point in blasting the emails of ABs in agencies that handle clients outside that. I sent out an email with images of the promos and links to my website and said I’d happily mail out a promo to anyone who wants one. For those in the NYC market I offered to hand-deliver the pieces as well. I never miss the opportunity to get in front of someone’s face.
The response was pretty amazing. I had a slightly higher than average open rate on this email, but a markedly higher click-through rate. In addition, I received more immediate response emails from art buyers than I have in all my email promos COMBINED over the past year. They all wanted to get a copy of the new promos. I booked an editorial gig on the spot, am putting together an estimate for another agency, and really got some amazing connections which I’ll keep following up on.
I sent out all four pieces to those who requested them, a handwritten note, and a few extra airplane paper clips that everyone seems to love. I’m still going to send the pieces out to most of the list anyways, response or not – maybe excluding the few who unsubscribed from the list. At least that email starts a conversation point so they don’t receive a piece out of the blue.
C: Definitely music to my ears to hear how much effort you put into one single mailer. Any final notes you want to leave our readers with on conceiving and creating a special mail promotion?
MD: Find what represents your brand and images. What are the things your business revolves around or uses? If you’re a still life photographer, maybe send a promo which folds into a beauty product or alcohol bottle. Perhaps some hearts and bowties if you’re a lifestyle-fashion shooter? You’re appealing to creative people for work, so get creative!
Check out more of Matt’s work at www.mattdutile.co.!
Have an awesome promo or cool story you want to share? Drop me a line anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org!!
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