It doesn't matter what industry you work in, sending out promotional material from time to time is a great way to help stay relevant in an oversaturated photography market. If you want such a marketing technique to pay off, there are some important things to keep in mind before you start. What, when, and how you send things out can dramatically affect your chances of success.
I have sent out promotional material for many years and have always used the excuse of Christmas to mail out greeting cards as a way to connect with people and businesses old and new. Not only is it a nice way to show your appreciation to everyone you have worked with over the last 12 months, but it's a handy way to stay at the forefront of someone's mind without making it a hard sell. This is why the humble Christmas card is great, because you can spread some Christmas joy and potentially gain some new clients all in one go. Just before you race to get your cards printed out, here are a few points to consider first.
Do Your Homework
Like Santa, you need to make a list and check it twice. Write down all the people you want to send a card to so you can get an idea of the number you will need to get printed. For the people and businesses you may want to work with in the future, you're going to need to do some research to get the correct names and addresses. Google, LinkedIn, and social media are a great place to find what you need. Personally, I'd be aiming for actual names of relevant people rather than blindly working through the alphabet of a business directory. If you don't know some of the people on your list or it's been a few years since you have spoken to them, it's well worth reaching out via email or social media first to make sure you have the most up to date address for them. I have never had someone ignore an email or direct message online when the content of the message said something along the lines of: "Hey, I would like to send you my annual Christmas card." Even Ebenezer Scrooge would be hard-pushed not to reply to that.
It's also worth researching the holiday deadlines for both domestic and international shipping where you live. If you plan on sending something overseas, make sure you give yourself enough time for them to arrive. It wouldn't be the best metaphor for your business if you can't deliver on time!
Send Something Well Designed
This may seem like an obvious one, but you need to send something that is well designed. I'm the first to hold my hands up and say I'm a photographer and not a graphic designer; layouts and fonts are just not my strength. If you are the same, try and work with people who can help you with that. Remember, what you are sending out could very well be the first thing someone has seen of yours.
It's also worth mentioning that the card doesn't necessarily need to be Christmas-related. If you or your clients don't celebrate that particular holiday, you can still use this time of year as a good excuse to send something out to wish someone all the best for the new year or the holiday you or them celebrate. The other benefit of making a card that is not so festive is that you can use them year-round, which is kind of handy when you've just had 500 of them printed!
First and foremost, making a promotional greetings card is meant to be a nice gesture, but don't forget you are creating one to help sell you and your brand too. Don't do the hard sell with the message inside, but do make sure you design the card so your contact details are tastefully visible on it somewhere.
Make Something People Will Want to Keep
If you make something that people will want to keep, they will be reminded of your name and your contact information every time they look at it. Ever hear a song on the radio from a band you had totally forgotten about and then proceeded to listen to their entire back catalog online? The world is relentlessly competing for our attention, and in the sea of photographers out there, it is all too easy for a client to forget about you. Create a promo that people will want to keep for a long time so they can be constantly reminded of you. I have never made anything other than cards and postcards as a way to promote myself, but things like calendars are worth a thought for the right images and client this time of year.
Increase the Chances They Actually Open It
Christmas is a great excuse to break the ice with clients old and new, but it's also the busiest time of the year for people receiving mail. Consider sending your cards way before the mass influx of post or maybe consider opting for a New Year mailing instead. If you do want to go toe-to-toe with the tons of cards people receive this time of year, make sure your packaging looks different enough that it doesn't get lost with the rest. I never skimp on the quality of the envelope, as it piques people's interest as to what is inside. If it feels and looks different than the res,t then you increase your chances that it will actually get opened. In some circumstances, you may even decide to hand-deliver the cards, which will not only guarantee they will get to the right person, but it will help to give your gesture a much more personal touch.
Try to Break the Internet
Ok so maybe don't go that crazy with your promo, but anything you make does have the potential to go viral. Get creative with your ideas and packaging, etc. You just never know who might share it online or who may hire you off the back of seeing your card. Even if no one shares your promo online, documenting the whole process of making one is a great social media or blog post for you to wrap up the end of the year.
The points mentioned above are well worth considering at anytime of the year, but are especially relevant leading up to Christmas. As one of the most popular holiday periods is fast approaching, why not use the season as a good excuse to connect or reconnect with people in the industry? Sending out promotional material in the form of a greeting card is not only an effective way to help generate business and increase your brand's awareness, it's a nice way to show your appreciation of the people you regularly work with. Go spread some festive spirit; you may just be surprised with what you get in return.
Do you use the holidays as a good excuse to reach out to people? Ever made a custom Christmas card? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.
Lead image by TerriC from Pixabay, used under Creative Commons.