Drawn by Success Snail Mail VS Email from DrawnBySuccess on Vimeo.
This is a great topic. I always go back and forth about flooding art director’s desks and mailbox with promotional material. I’m just getting into this myself I wonder about building a good mailing list. I have started with SCBWI guide and have hand picked the publishers. Where are you all getting your lists?
I love this topic, especially since I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I mostly e-mail because snail mail can easily get too expensive for me. In fact, I was going to be preparing an e-mail blast this weekend to try to bring in some work.
Honestly, my self promotion skills are lacking, and I’m the first one to admit it, but it’s something I’m committed to working on.
I have come across a lot of mixed views of what AD’s prefer – email vs. snail mail. Some prefer one and not the other, or vice a versa, or both. Would it be appropriate to simply call each potential client to find out the best way to promote?
Also, is it really feasible to try something “different” for every physical promo. For example, I’m an illustrator and not a package designer or marketing expert. Most of my great ideas are represented in my artwork. Rarely will I get a compelling idea that presents my work outside of the traditional postcard or brochure. Do successful illustrators really go outside the postcard/brochure approach that much?
Thanks for this discussion. I’ve done a little bit of both email and snail-mail marketing, but neither one enough to pass judgment on the success of snail mail vs email.
I think the added value over simple promotion is key. That’s why I stopped sending out e-newsletters: I didn’t feel I was adding any value. I was just saying “look at my images! Hire me!” However, like Bob said, I got the most traction from e-newsletters from people I had a relationship with (current and past clients, twitter friends, etc…).
Carlos, I really like what you said about incorporating something into a mailer that helps connect you with the person receiving it.
Actually, my first thought was, “Damn, I’m not really doing anything in my community with my art.” But that’s a different, shameful matter altogether. Ahem.
In the past I always sent out the typical art piece. My thought was that if someone liked it enough, they would hang it in their office or cubicle and I would be on top of mind… at least until they redecorated.
That didn’t really bring any results worth mentioning.
Recently I did a trade show and I selected a group of attendees and exhibitors I really wanted to come to my booth. So I hand-crafted about 20 valentine-themed invitations to my booth. It was a very crafty trifold, pop-up kind of thing. There’s no way I could have made more than 20 without losing my mind, but the 20 I sent were more effective than any number of typical promos I had sent in the past. I had 13 of those people come to my booth. Here’s why I think they worked:
1. They were unique.
2. They were directed to very specific people (not the masses)
3. They were a call to action for a specific event they were already attending.
I’ve also sent “cold-call” emails before and I think they haven’t been effective for the very reason you guys talked about. No previous personal contact. That seems to be where I have the most success.
Thanks for bringing up this topic. I don’t do very much with email for just the reasons you brought up. Everyone’s InBox is filled with these kinds of things and the consultants, designers, architects, and gallery directors I am in contact with are so inundated with emails that they look at very few of them.
I do send out a yearly mailing to my mailing list letting my list know what is happening with my artwork and that they can check out my web site for more information on the latest artwork, exhibitions, etc.
People get very little real mail these days that are not bills or junk mail that they almost always look at both sides of my postcards automatically as it is a reflex to see what is on the other side.
I’ve heard back from many who look forward to my postcard, hanging it on their bulletin board, etc. It is a reminder for them that I am still around, available for projects, commissions, etc.
The printing of the postcards themselves is very inexpensive and they are great to hand out at events as well. The postage can be a bit much, but I do it monthly in smaller increments (400 cards a month) so it doesn’t seem quite so daunting and I get through my list in a year so the addresses are always current. I consider it just part of the overall advertising, marketing, and public relations expense of doing business.
Great topic, guys, and fun to see you both face-to-face….ish…
However (sorry, but it had to happen)…
I’m not sure that direct mail would be the most effective means of communication for my particular freelance pursuit, which is voiceover. Some voiceover talent do send out physical cards/mailers periodically, but I haven’t heard that there’s been much return from those mailings. That said, what I believe that I can take away from your comments and apply to my voiceover business is the idea of being more personal with my marketing efforts, which is something that I feel definitely needs to be done. So for that, I thank you!
I have used both e-mail and snail mail to promote my services and have been underwhelmed by the results of both so far. It has usually taken me quite a bit of time to compile specific lists and then been discouraged by the low results. I’ve found that recommendations and phone calls leading to face-to-face meetings have worked the best for me. I currently use e-mail to promote what I do to more sporadic clients so they will keep me in mind. Still, I hate to rule out e-mail for introducing myself to prospective clients. I probably need to find a better list and have a message that catches their attention.
I agree with the majority of the responses that the response time for either snail or e-mail isn’t the easiest route. Plus in my experience it seems to all depend on the art director/venue. I use both SCBWI and The Children’s Writer/Illustrator Market guides, in addition to personal contacts and trips to NYC about every 6 months to do portfolio drops (sometimes meets if people are available) – not to mention mailings to agents as well. I have been doing this for about a year or so, and just within the past few months I’ve gotten little nibbles (requests for samples, etc.) But nothing huge. The current project I’m working on now is through personal connections.
My bigger issue the age old question of TIME! Because I’m starting out I do work 2 part-time jobs in order to make “ends meat” and I have trouble finding the time to do promos, work on gigs, and have time to create my personal work for the promos! And have time for my husband and myself. It’s a lot. Any advice would be helpful…
Nicholas, the SCBWI guide is a great place to start if the children publishing is your focus. You don’t need a huge list of thousands. The key is to develop a very targeted list and speak to their needs in your marketing material.
Btw- as one of the first three to leave a comment on this post you get a free 20 minute phone consultation as promised. i’ll email you a link to schedule our session together. Congrats : )
Ray, thanks for your comment. As one of the first three to leave a comment for this post you’re also entitled to a free 20 minute phone consultation with me. I’ll email you a link to schedule our session together, so be on the lookout for it. Congrats : )
Btw- I wouldn’t put off your email blast if you already have it scheduled. You have nothing to lose by sending it out, and it certainly beats not sending anything at all. Make improvments as you go.
David, yes asking your prospective clients what they prefer to see is always a good idea. You want to contact them in a way that fits their style of working and workflow.
In regards to creating something “different” in your promos, I believe that it is very important to make an effort to stand out from what others in your industry may be sending out. Now I’m not talking about becoming gimmicky or outlandish for no reason other than to be different. It should be done in a way that compliments your work and doesn’t detract from it. Something that stylistically is a good fit with your style of illustration. Unique and original by the way doesn’t have to mean expensive either. Check out the interview with Aleloop for a great example of that.
While you may not be a package designer nor a marketing expert, you are NOT just an illustrator, you are also in the business of marketing your illustration. If coming up with unique ideas in which to market your work is a challenge, then partner up with a designer or marketer to create some joint promo pieces that achieves your common goals. You supply the illustration, they supply the design or marketing expertise.
David, thank you for sharing that with us. That’s an excellent example of laser targeting your mailer to a very specific audience with a very specific message with a strong call to action. When you’re targeting correctly you don’t need to send out thousands nor hundreds. Excellent!
A clear call to action is something I rarely see in marketing promos. And by that I don’t mean “Call and hire me”. From a marketing perspective your promo pieces main function should be to create interest and generate leads that over time you can build a relationship with (getting back to Josh’s comment below), It is NOT to make a sale, which is wrongly the focus of most mailers. While you may indeed get a paying gig from sending out a mailer, most buyers will not have a need to hire you at the precise moment you need to sell them your illustrations.
Create promos that encourage interested potential clients to raise their hands and say I’m interested in what you do. Show me more.
Excellent Jean, thank you for sharing that. Post card mailers when done correctly is still very reasonable for most artists considering the return on investment.
Justin, don’t be to quick to discount physical mailers in your industry. It may be that the examples you’ve seen used in the past lacked many of the elements discussed here, or focused on making the sale and not building a relationship with your target audience.
Thanks for joining the discussion.
Michael, thanks for posting your comments and sharing your experience. I think a wise approach is to use a combination of both physical mailers with emails to build the know, like and trust factor.
Jen, I feel for you. We all struggle with the issue of time. I was just talking to Bob Ostrom about that today. We all have the same 24 hours. It’s a matter of prioritizing what’s most important for you as well as weighing what activities will get you the results you want in the quickest amount of time. The truth is, sometimes somethings will have to give and compromises will need to be made in order to reach a desired goal. It’s up to what those things will be.
Thanks for sharing with us. I hope the comments here have helped.
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