Personalized Marketing Goes a Long Way Toward Differentiating You From Your Competitors... At Least That's the Theory.

A three dimensional view of today's card.

(click the images to see them bigger...)

I wrote recently about a marketing project I've been working on. It's a series of folded cards with images on them and a short, written piece inside. I print the cards on my Canon Pro-100 inkjet printer and mail them out in envelopes. After reading the article a number of VSL readers asked me to go into a little bit more detail about the cards. Here's all I have. 

The easiest part of the project is choosing the card stock. I buy boxed sets of pre-scored, large cards from Museo. They come 100 to the box, with matching envelopes, and my local photo merchant sells the boxed set for about $80. Add in the cost of inkjet ink ( and spoilage ) along with a first class stamp and your per unit cost for a card is about $1.50. Yes, you can get printed postcards on the web much cheaper but my strategy is predicated on being able to modify or fine tune the art and the story in small batches, for specific markets. 

To get a bit more technical, the cards are 5-1/2 inch by 7-3/8 inch, 220 GSM, acid free cotton, in an art/matte surface (there is discernible "tooth"). 

The hardest parts of the project ( aside from the obvious issue of procrastination... ) is choosing the right images and writing the correct story for each audience. You may be good at this but I always run my choices past a designer or art director friend before spending ink.

I print my name and return address on the envelope in a type that matches the type I use inside ( Georgia, 13pt ) but I am superstitious about using labels or having the printer address them. I am a believer that if you are personalizing a mailing you should take the time to hand address to the recipient. You may have different deeply held beliefs. Such are modern times...

Front of card with matching envelope.

Inside of the card. 

I always sign the cards I send and, usually, I write a brief, personal note to the recipient in the space you see under the image, just above. This allows me to purpose the card as either a "Thank You" card or a reminder card; or a straight forward marketing impression. I sent one out today with a note of thanks to someone who had recommended me for an assignment. I sent out another card today with a note confirming and out-of-town  lunch for next week. I sent out a third card to gently remind a client that we still need to finish up our video edit and are waiting for their input. 

In all, I sent out twenty-five cards today. 

By the end of the week I will have sent out around 90 cards to customers who have done work with me in the past or to acquaintances who I know but have not worked with yet. The most productive cards are always the ones that go to our best clients. It seems that seeing images "reminds" them of projects they need to get done. The cards remind them that I am ready to help them. 

With copy I have learned not to be technical and to always try to make some sort of story. The one here is plain but serviceable. 

I keep a list of the people I have sent cards to on a legal pad I keep in my top desk drawer. I like to keep track of what I've sent out and to whom. 

This is the back cover. It has my contact information. 

Over the course of a year my core audience of around 200 people will get eight different mailers from me as well as e-mails and other "touches." My goal is not to generate immediate sales (although that's always nice) but to maintain "top of mind" awareness of my business and what I offer to them.

When this mailer is complete I will immediately start planning my next marketing effort. I am leaning toward a color post card mailer with location portraits. I won't know until I'm in the middle of the project exactly which images I will use and how I will design it. I will probably choose to use the Hahnemuhle FineArt Inkject Photo Cards in the 285 gsm pearl finish. The base is a bright white and the finish allows for an impression of high sharpness with good color saturation. It works well with the Canon printer. 

Marketing is the lifeblood of most businesses. Buying cameras is more fun. A good mailed-card campaign can be much more profitable. 

Historically I can expect about a 10% response rate over the quarter. Not too bad for direct mail. 

Hope this answers the bulk of your questions! Tomorrow is April Fools day. Stay tuned.


George Beinhorn said...

As a word person (i.e., word nerd) for 50 years who takes pictures, here's a snappy tip that will improve your marketing communications tremendously. I learned it from an engineer when I worked part-time as a word processor in the early 1980s. Ready? Here goes. Print everything! An MIT Media Lab study found that people make 40 percent more proofreading errors on screen than on paper. You will be amazed to discover how much your writing will improve when you proofread one or more drafts on paper. It is magic. And now back to learning mode, listening to Kirk explain photography.

Wayne Pearson said...

Thank you for this post. Very nice cards. Ten percent response is fantastic!

Richard Leacock said...

Nice! The info is always appreciated.

atmtx said...

Lovely. I always love your black and white portraits.

typingtalker said...

Someone told me once to never throw anything away ... mail it to someone. He of course meant interesting and useful stuff, not crap. So I did with a hand written, "You might be interested in this" attached. Appropriate to the client or prospect.

A prospect who had been too busy to meet me stopped in one morning (he was in the neighborhood) and told me how much he appreciated the things I'd mailed him. He became a client.

Small things. Reminders. Touches.

Mike said...

Thank you for the insight, Kirk. I'm needing to up my marketing efforts and this is really great nuts-and-bolts example of what you do. I'm taking notes!

Michael Matthews said...

Hey....are we Kirk Tuck Photography (envelope)? Or Kirk Tuck Imaging (card)?
And why do I feel the compulsion to copy edit everything that passes before my eyes? Maybe I'll just go rearrange the dishwasher.

Phil Stiles said...

A great article. I just wish that lady with the TLR had her thumb on the shutter.

Kirk Tuck said...

She was busy developing a civilized rapport.