What is a promotional piece and how can a creative produce one? As I promised, I am back to talk to you about creating promotional pieces. Perhaps many of you are budding professionals who would like to get the attention of art buyers from companies or magazines, but you are not sure how to do it. The creative industry works different in all parts of the world; here in the Middle East you can walk into someone’s office and have tea with them and show them your work. In Europe and the Americas, things are often much more complicated. You would need to make an appointment months in advance, if they gave you the time of day at all. The most efficient way to introduce your work to an art buyer is to send them a promotional piece.
Promo pieces come in a variety of forms, perhaps the most traditional one being a post card promo. This would have your work on one side and often your contact information on the other. It is really important that if you do not have an education that encompassed design, and/ or you do not feel comfortable designing pieces, that you make a relationship with a designer or hire a designer to lay out your promotional pieces. There are so many factors that go into designing a promotional piece, all of which start with the brand identity of your company. In my previous post I mentioned the book and blog No Plastic Sleeves. If you are serious about starting or reviving your creative company, this book is a one-stop shop for creating your brand identity and promoting your company. And the blog regularly features new promos from photographers around the world to get your creativity flowing. I am not going to go into detail about brand identity or marketing, but rather I will explain to you our latest promotional piece.
Any promotional piece is going to be put on the desk of an art buyer, along with dozens of other promos received, just in that day. Therefore, your piece needs to stand out in order to catch the attention of the art buyer, and not be tossed in the trash. You might instinctively slap one of your old images on a card and mail it off, however that will be considered a 2%…. there’s a 2% chance it wont end up in the trash. You need to think of a promotional as a time to show off all of your skill sets, planning a photo series, designing a layout and of course your photography. With this in mind, it’s better to start from scratch and create a promo piece keeping your audience, the art buyers, in mind. These people are either photo editors of magazines or creative / art directors at ad agencies, and they see A LOT of photos a day. This means you really need to create something unique and impressionable.
For this promo piece, we have decided to create a small cookbook of approximately 15 recipes, which we make for our 2 and a half-year-old daughter. The reason we decided to start this campaign largely has to do with our market. Many of these art buyers are in the same age group as us, it’s possible that they have a young child or might in the future. These recipes are real, down to earth, healthy foods that we cook for our daughter. They are also very flavorful, as our daughter was born in the Middle East and has visited many countries, giving her a very diverse palate. Parents all face the same dilemmas these days when it comes to feeding their children, how to make healthy, flavorful food that exposes kids to a variety of flavors. The entire idea of our promo is to create something useful, personal and beautiful. Before we started we gathered examples of images, which carry the same theme and feeling. We made a digital mood board in order to give ourselves a sense of what we are doing, once we start to feel a little lost, we can always refer back to it. Having a visual reference to what you want your project to feel like is a very important step to starting a new project.
We want the viewers to feel that this is a personal book and that it speaks about not only the delicious types of food we make, but about the family, our family. We wanted to give the book an editorial feel, and to use hints of childhood in some, but not all of the pages. The font that we have chosen is playful and graphic, giving the overall feeling of a stylish childhood. Since we started we have created several pages of this cookbook, and have laid some of the recipes directly into the image, which is a technique often used in magazines. Knowing that we will be sending this promo primarily to magazine photo editors, we want them to say, “that’s exactly how I could use this work.” And so throughout the design, we are trying to use creative, yet practical layouts.
Pre-planning is crucial, as some pages need to have room to lay the text within, while others will have the text on the previous or following pages, laid over a texture or visual graphic. At this stage in the project, we are taking a step back, and evaluating what we have created. We may cut pages that we feel don’t fit the theme and we have an opportunity to plan the second half of the book better.
Once we have finished, we will have the book printed, then sent out to 20 lucky art buyers. That gives us 20 chances to impress art buyers and hopefully not end up at the bottom of the pile. If our promotional is successful, it will be kept sitting on their desks, or in their houses. The newest page is shared below, which is a story about our busy family. Our calendar shows that we are an active family, and like to spend time together. The other page is a typical morning for any parent, packing the lunch box. Giving recipes for lots of healthy, home made goodies, will help parents resist the urge to put pre packaged, junk food in their child’s lunch. Hopefully, the two images work together to tell a story about parenthood, and more specifically a personal story of our family.
As we continue with our project, we will continue to share images with you, and when we finally finish, we will also share the completed book. I hope this post was informative and that our promotional piece inspires you to create your own promo project.