When it comes to the world of commercial photography, print is not dead. Although the Internet and your website are great tools to promote your photography, to really get noticed by agencies and other buyers of photography, you need to make printed promotional pieces, known in the industry as “promos.”
You can get really creative with promos, like sending them out with branded gifts, but this article will focus on printed promos.
Here are some tips on creating your photography promotions and sending them out into the world.
Create a marketing plan
Before you can send out promos, you need to know whom you’re sending them to.
This necessitates doing your research and coming up a list of targeted clients that you wish to work with.
If you haven’t already done this, know that this should be an ongoing process in your efforts to attract work. You must narrow down whom you want to work with and pursue those clients to get them to notice you. Printed promos are one way of doing this.
This will help you stay organized and remind you of when you last contacted them and what the outcome was.
Decide on how many promos you want to send out. Fifty is a good number to start with. You may choose more or less, depending on your niche and target market and the realities of your budget.
Come up with a concept
Before you can design your promo, you’ll need to decide what form your promo will take. Will it be a magazine? A newspaper? A poster or postcard?
I generally don’t recommend postcard promotions because they often get thrown away. However, they can be used to augment your promotions, or you can send them to smaller clients that you would be open to working with.
Printing a promo can be a costly undertaking, so you don’t want to send them to leads that are not likely to pay off.
For example, as a food photographer, I might send a promo to high-end restaurants or restaurant chains that have a marketing person or PR agency because this signals that they have the budget to hire a good photographer. I can reserve the postcards to send to smaller restaurants, such as family-run businesses who might want to hire a photographer and are more likely to keep a postcard than an art director at an advertising agency.
Browse a few websites that print promos for photographers to see what the options are and how they might best represent your photography.
You can choose someone local in the city you live. Alternatively, search nationally or even internationally, depending on what you’re looking and the value provided.
For example, as a Canadian, I have some good choices in the city where I live. However, I also regularly seek out US Sites that can give me good results for a similar price, despite postage and exchange rates. Some good options are Next Day Flyers, and Newspaper Club.
What the promo should include
A promo is a visual calling card. It should include a bio or artist’s statement, your logo and contact information.
Depending on the niche, some photographers give their images titles or captions. If you’re an assignment photographer who is submitting collected images from a trip or assignment, you might want to preface the promo with a bit of a backstory.
A food photographer may include a short recipe with one of the images.
If you choose to include text, keep it brief. The point of the promo is to focus on your photography.
Get a great printer
Don’t make the mistake of taking the time and effort to design a great promo and then hire the wrong printer in order to save money. Your efforts will be wasted.
A promo is meant to showcase your work in the best possible light. A poorly printed piece degrades the quality of your photography.
If you’re in the commercial photography world, then promos should be an important part of your marketing strategy and require investment. There is no getting around investing in marketing to grow your business and appear as a professional.
Successful and established photographers with a regular client list still send out promos.
Research printers and their offerings as you would a potential client. You may want to seek out recommendations in forums or from other photographers you know and trust before you make your decision.
Promos pay off, but sometimes it can take a bit of time. We live in a world saturated with information, so it can take a few attempts on your part to get the right people to notice you.
Be sure to send out a new promo 3-4 times a year to your contacts, and don’t overlook your current clientele. They should also know what you’ve been up to. Regular promos will keep you looking fresh and relevant and busy with other clients, which always reflects well on you and your photography business.
To see samples of a variety of promos, check out @photoeditor on Instagram by Rob Haggert, a former Director of Photography for Men’s Journal whose feed is dedicated to showcasing the various promos sent to him from photographers around the world.
Do you do promotions? Share any ideas with us in the comments below.