Promoting your business

At any professional level, promoting your work is the key to staying in the game. In the age of instant communication many of us may neglect the power of a printed promotional marketing piece or campaign. You may have a topnotch website and a book that blows away all those who see it. But there’s the rub: who is actually seeing it?

There are other ways to get the word out such as e-mail blasts, banner ads, and social network marking. Let’s face it: if you’re like me, you don’t often pay attention to the spam type marketing unless it is exceptional. This is where a well conceived, produced, and executed printed piece can make a difference, and it doesn’t have to require a second loan on your house to make it happen. The following are just a few of the options you may want to consider.

The first and cheapest option is a post card promo, a single sheet in a convenient mailing format that can be sent out in bulk. The second is a small bi- or tri-fold brochure
piece. These will run a bit more to print and mail but will carry more impact and offer more real estate to show off your work.  And last is a custom card of your own design, delivered in a personal non-business envelope. The first two may be viewed as junk mail, and, unless they really stand out, they may be treated as such. On the other hand, a piece that looks like an invitation will have much better chance of getting looked at. After all, if you view this as invitation to potential clients to you, your talent, and your work, then you’re setting this up to succeed from the start.

If you feel you have the skills to create a great piece on your own, then go for it. If you feel your design skills are lacking, ask for help. You may have an existing client that would work a trade with you for services. The potential impact is worth the effort.  You want it to get looked at, kept and or past around. Again this where that old adage comes into play, “You never get a chance to make a first impression.” I know I have said this before, and I will again because it is very true.

Once your design is together and ready for the printer, you have a few options. Many online printers offer packages in any of the formats mentioned. These businesses also have preformatted options, and the better ones have the option to upload your custom design. The price of most of these is based on the quantity you print. The more you run, the cheaper they are per unit. They tend come in price packages for 250, 500, or 1000 pieces. You can also take it to a local printer, which may be more cost effective for short runs.  Last is the DIY route. If you have a good quality printer, the software and the time then you can produce your own promos. This would be the best way to go for a print-on-demand marketing plan.

Now you have the promo ready and in hand, what do you next? If you belong to a professional association like the ASMP, PPofA, or APA you can use them for access to mailing list or you can do your own research to find potential clients. I feel the best option is to look into targeted mailing lists. There are loads of companies that offer these. My favorite is Fresh lists. All have several packages that can target the people you want regionally or nationally and in most any client type. They also have options from economy to full service. The economy service includes just the list database that you can customize for your campaign, but you will have to print your own labels and handle the mailing. The full service option includes everything from labeling to fulfillment.

The last part of marketing promotion is often the forgotten step: the follow up. Plan any growth with a campaign over a given period of time and several mailings. If you can afford it, use a different piece each time, then follow up with e-mails or calls to the targets on your list after each mailing. Keep it manageable, and be realistic. Set aside time to do the work this will take. Don’t do it in starts and stops—you need to develop momentum and keep it going for success to really come. And don’t get discouraged. Not everyone will respond. A 5-7 percent gain is considered good. So look at it in these terms: you send out 100 promos and get 5 to 7 new clients. Who wouldn’t be happy with that?

As always I look forward to your comments.

Best,
Ric.

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