Do-It-Yourself Promos; The Pros And Cons Of Printing Promo Pieces In-House Page 2

Outside of the financial aspect, the biggest issue is the design. One design solution, proposed by a friend of mine who is also a creative business owner, is to use a secret board of directors and poll them when she has questions. I’ve followed suit. I have friends who are graphic designers and quite often will show them my work before it gets printed. They critique my promos and either nudge me in the direction I need to go—or sign off on it.

You also need to select the right images. In the beginning I was sending promos with images from my portfolio. I figured that people need to know and see my style and I was showing what I felt others wanted to see. This year, I’ve changed things around. I’m still booking days for the promo shots, but I’ve decided that I want to shoot humorous images, kind of like a Super Bowl commercial. I try to shoot something funny but use serious photography and lighting skills in hopes that someone will snicker and choose to hang onto my promo. I think this strategy is more effective.

© 2008, Tony Blei, All Rights Reserved

SB: What have been your successes and achievements?

David Bowman: I started with in-house printing of Epson inkjet print promos and, years later, I had an art director tell me that he’s still got one of those early inkjet cards on his wall. Then, those same homemade cards also won a Photo District News magazine award for self-promotion so I was able to achieve both—creativity and longevity.

Tony Blei: Creating a short-run in-house promo, despite the obstacles, is a wonderful opportunity because when the phone isn’t ringing, I’ve learned to stop worrying and work on my next promo. Maybe the phone won’t ring right away, but by working on something, I have forward motion and I’m being creative (one of the reasons I got into this business). This forward motion keeps my spirits up and fuels further creativity and success.

Rick Souders: We have had success in that—by printing in-house—we can change out images that we just may have finished that are relevant to a campaign and are “cool” enough to bump another image. We can also send out very highly targeted promos to very specific targets and we use very image specific visuals that the receiving client will be able to relate to. This has helped us get our work in front of the right people, it has produced portfolio appointments and it has gotten us assignments.

Tony Blei: Another successful tip: since I’ve started with my humorous line of promos I have more people going to my website. In case they have been to the website before I’ve designed a section that I call “Hotcakes and Outtakes.” This is designed to showcase a little more personal work and I always try to be entertaining and create a wacky story line to accompany the promo and put the outtakes here. For Easter, I put bunny ears on my Rottweiler and set up a cute Easter bunny scene. It was beautifully lit as she sat in the perfect “sit” position. While giving the dog a break, my assistant (a dear friend of mine and photo editor of a local newspaper) put on the bunny ears and began to mimic the dog. It was too funny so I put him in the “outtakes” section. The hits to my portfolio doubled.

My promo for the Fourth of July really has little to do with the Fourth, but it reflects that I am the fourth best. The accompanying text reads, “SmartAz Photography is pleased to announce that Tony Blei is The Fourth Best Photographer in the US—maybe even the world!*

*You are probably asking: Why is Tony Blei Number Four? Here’s the deal: It’s a bit grandiose for Tony to say that he is ‘The Best’ Photographer in The World. If he were to say that he was Number Two, people would challenge him. And let’s face it: Nobody wants to be third. We are Number Four, but work to be Number One for you.”

My goal is to make people smile, go to my website and ultimately call me. I may never know how well each of my promos works, but I do know that I can’t afford to not send them. They are valuable and outweigh any perceived obstacle or problem.