Direct Mail Ideas That Just Might Not End Up in the Trash

Photographers sometimes ask me if it’s a good investment to send a CD of their work to a mailing list of photo editors. The answer is “no” — it’s almost never worth the money.

The reason? Photo buyers are known to stand over a wastebasket when they answer their mail. Unsolicited CDs almost always are dropped into the trash. Photo buyers don’t look at the CDs of photographers they don’t know.

Don’t despair, though. It happens in all the creative fields: songwriting, script writing, fiction, music, dance and painting — all of them.

This also doesn’t mean you should give up on direct mail as a form of marketing. I’ve found the following four tools to be effective for mailers:

1. Postcards. There’s no envelope to open, your pitch is on one side and a sample of your photography is on the other side. Standard postcard size will pull just as well as the larger postcard (that costs more to mail.) Some recommended places to find mailing lists of photo editors/art directors: Fresh Lists (800-322-3985); AdBase (416-960-4240); and PhotoSourceFolio; (877-464-6243).

2. Magnets. Those small credit-card-sized notices that have migrated from the fridge to the filing cabinet are an excellent reminder to photo buyers where to find you. Two places to buy them: VistaPrint and 4imprint.

3. Calendars. If the photo buyer has wall space (at home or office) they might use it, especially if your specialty area matches their special interest theme. But calendars are expensive to produce. Co-marketing idea: talk a local business (such as a nursery, architect, interior designer, etc.) into paying for the entire calendar production in return for your producing the images.

4. Posters. Hardly anyone wants to throw away a poster. But would you be throwing away money? It depends on a few factors — the quality of your image, the mailing list, the size of the poster. You are competing with the top dogs when you are producing posters, but why not? Just be sure to go with quality all the way.

[tags]photography business, photography tips[/tags]

5 Responses to “Direct Mail Ideas That Just Might Not End Up in the Trash”

  1. Hi Rohn,

    Thank you for the insight. I agree with you on the postcards. So far in about 700 mailings I've booked a few gigs and received some calls. I've also sent news letters about my non-profit and that has helped.

    It's always nice to have something in hand!


    Dave Bell

  2. My name is Tara Finch and I am a beginning photographer in high school. I would like to think some of my photos have actually turned out pretty well and want to try out the idea of seeling them. I was hoping you could give me an insight on how I could go about getting started. My favorite pictures to take are scenic or nature, and in black and white. To me most pictures just look better that way. If you ahd any tips it would be very helpful to me if you would care to share. Thank you!

  3. Hmm... I only wish I'd found this site sooner. Would have saved me a lot of wasted time and effort. Keep up the good work! Thanks!

  4. I'm quick to throw out all junk mail. However when I received useful items such as magnets, return address labels, and calendars, I keep them for a very long time. And, I have used these companies services in the past.

  5. Standing over a wastebasket to open the mail is a good image for anyone doing direct mail to keep in mind. Magnets can be powerful because of the repeat exposure they generate. And since magnets can be printed in full color, a larger magnet might give you more room to showcase a photo. You can also cut costs and increase the presentation factor by attaching the magnet to a postcard for mailing instead of putting it in an envelope. Plus you can add additional images as part of the postcard artwork.

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