New Technology For Printing Promos; Full Service Companies Help Meet Your Needs

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In today's competitive marketplace for your photography services, new technologies in print services are emerging to help you find and reach potential clients. Using a service combination of design, list purchasing, custom quality printing, and even mailing the postcards for you, companies such as Modern Postcard (www.modernpostcard.com) can be a one-stop shop for meeting your future technology marketing needs.

We talked with Fred Hernandez at Modern Postcard as well as two of his photographer customers, Paul Body and Shanenon Starrett, to get ideas on how to best use these new tools now--and in the future.

Shutterbug: Before even looking at all that a firm such as yours has to offer in new technology, let's review the basics of direct-mail marketing for our readers.

Fred Hernandez: A good photo is a good starting place, but the first thing you want to do is have an objective--what are you trying to achieve? There are two major goals. One is to generate awareness, exposure, and branding; two, is to generate sales. The objective of your printing will determine where you get your list. To generate awareness, use a "house" list. Selling to your own clients is the best place to start. To generate sales, you will probably buy a list. What makes a good list? Always have the list company work from a customer profile. Here's a tip: Assuming you want more of the same type of photography assignments, any good direct-mail company can provide a customer profile made from your house list and then you buy from that profile.

SB: And after you have your objective and a good list, what's next?

FH: The next thing is building content and intent and creating copy. You have your objective, but what do you want the customer to do when they receive your promo? Direct mail by nature is direct response marketing. Any good direct promo piece is going to have a "call to action"--even brand building promos include this copy. Always ask for the sale.

SB: Any recommendations on how to find a good designer?

FH: To get the best service from a graphic designer look for a designer who has experience with direct mail. No question. There are not only postal service rules and regulations but there is an art to direct mail. You want simple and effective design.
SB: Let's turn to one of our photographers, Paul Body (http://paulbody photo.com/), and look at the obstacles he has met and overcome in design and printing promos.

Paul Body: There are two main obstacles I have encountered. First is in the design. It is very hard to figure out what you want to say about yourself. Should you have many images on a promo piece, or just one? What kind of work are you looking for? Who is your target audience? Does your presentation look and feel like "you"? One of the things that I know works for me is to keep it clean and keep it simple. Simple is by no means easy, in fact, it can be very difficult. My images usually have an abundance of color, and are not very subdued, but I always try to keep my presentations simple and let the images speak for themselves. I have been very fortunate over the years to work with art directors who like my work and will now help me design my promos. But you always have to remember that less is more, and that does not mean fewer images, just good design.

The second is color reproduction. When you have very colorful imagery the conversion to CMYK can be very tricky, especially if your promo pieces are going to be gang run (most likely). It is important to choose a print shop that you can download their print profiles so you can "see what they are seeing" when making your conversions. If you can send a proof print, that is great, but most of the time, I upload to their website. If I cannot upload to the site, and take care of everything online, then I will most likely not use them.

SB: Fred, do postcards still work?

FH: Postcards are more likely to be read compared to other types of direct mail (Source: 2005 Direct Marketing Association Statistical Fact Book) and photographers are realizing the value of the instant visibility of postcards to make an impression and to sell their work. Postcards offer a higher level of engagement and interaction with the customer, but the print quality must be excellent and you must be consistent and frequent.

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