Buyer's Insights to Power Up Your Fall Marketing

Monday September 01, 2008 by Juliette Wolf-Robin, ADBASE

Posted in: Finding and Keeping Clients

In last month's article, Summer Assignment: Get Out of Your Studio, I wrote that as an artist it is your responsibility to stay fresh. I suggested that you all take time to get out of your studio and seek some inspiration. Well, now that summer is almost over I hope you are ready to power into full promotion mode for the fall.

Now's the Time to Get Marketing

The next few months can be the busiest of the year; clients have advertising budgets that must be spent before the end of the last quarter, annual reports are being designed and shot, holiday promotions are being prepared and editorial publications have year-end issues to plan. Put on your marketing director cap and come up with a plan to go after new work. Now is the time to send out a promo card or an email campaign and follow up with people you know in the business.

Put together a manageable plan so that each week you are doing something for your business. Do not use the excuse that you are re-doing your web site, portfolio, logo or mailers as a reason that you can't promote at all right now. If cost is an issue, scale it down if you need to, but it's imperative in September and October to be included for consideration as clients decide who to hire for these projects. Do something to get your name in the mix.

Use Real Buyer Insight

Over the past month I have interviewed a number of art buyers for the ADBASE Art Buyer's Lounge series and asked them what resonates for them when looking at promotion from artists. There was some very clear feedback about what works and what doesn't.

You'll have a chance over the next couple of months to listen to all of these interviews on They will be posted in the Insight archive, and you will need to be signed in. It's great to hear directly from the buyers what they think. Since you'll need to start promoting right away, allow me to disseminate some key feedback given by the art buyers I've interviewed.

The overall consistent message is that buyers are busy and time is limited. They do want to receive promotional pieces because staying up on who is doing what, is an integral part of their job. However, because of their time constraints, there are definitely things you should take into consideration and some things to clearly avoid doing.

Here are a few quick do's and don'ts that will afford you immediate better results.

  1. Do not include an attachment to your email. This was truly the number one concern from buyers. It's great to send an image but include it in the body of the email. ADBASE Emailerv2 can provide you with templates and you can drop in any number of images. Actual attachments are a stumbling block when promoting to agencies. They are often blocked by the agency filters, or are often immediately deleted by buyers concerned about spam and viruses. They will often keep email promotions, but not ones that come as an attachment.
  2. Do put a subject line that includes your name and an easy keyword about what you are showing. Buyers often sort and save emails into folders that they can refer back to later. Don't be too clever- make sure that your subject line clearly communicates what you are showing.
  3. Do be consistent and send out promotions on a regular basis. However - be sensible. It can work against you to barrage the same person repeatedly as they seem to remember and are turned off by those sending to them obsessively.
  4. Do try to target your promotions as much as possible. It saves you money and demonstrates to the buyer that you have done your research and aren't wasting their time.
  5. Do keep it simple, whether it is a postcard or a template email with one image. The design matters only in that it showcases your sensibility and taste level. Everyone said that in the end, it's about the work. It's about the image you show and its relevance to the job at hand.
  6. Do not get discouraged. No response does not necessarily mean that they are not interested; this was said repeatedly. So try not to get discouraged if you don't hear anything after sending out your promo. All the buyers said they keep promotional pieces that are relevant to them or if the promos catch their eye. They send web links to art directors to review on a regular basis. For the most part they only actually call the artists or reps when a project is in hand. They do not have time to respond to all promotions, even if they think they might want to work with the person in the future.

Get Web-Savvy

If your introduction to a buyer is the promotional piece that you send, then the courtship is your website. Your website is what the buyer forwards to the art director for consideration. The look of the website and the work you show there will determine if they will call in your book. In some cases, however, they may hire you directly based on your website. So here are a couple of quick tips to assure your website is up to the task:

  1. It must be easy to load, and the images need to come up quickly. Check your site in various browsers (Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox) to make sure there are no glitches. Make sure that your contact information is easy to find, clear, and up-to-date.
  2. Buyers understand that artists and reps would like to know they are visiting the site, but they find it annoying if they are forced to register in order to view your portfolio. We all know how incredibly busy buyers are, so make sure they can see your work quickly. Also, they will be forwarding the link to other agency stakeholders, so make it easy for them to see your work...and hire you.
  3. Anything extra you want to put on your site as an enhancement to showcase your personality, such as music or montages, or ways to stay in touch such as sign-ins, must be done in a way that the buyer has control and the option not to participate. Allow them to turn music on or off or sign-in, if they have time. The portfolio section is the most important part of your site and needs to view easily, with no sound and no obligation.

Printed Portfolios Still Matter

If your book is called in, consider yourself a true contender for a project. Final decisions are often made after the agency and client have viewed the physical portfolios. This is why it's critical to continue to update, and care for your portfolio as if the job depended on it...because it does! Buyers, art directors and clients are looking at the reproduction of images as well as for the production value and quality of the work to shine. You will most often not be there to present your work so your portfolio must speak on your behalf. What is the message you want it to deliver?

Consistency Counts

Be consistent from your mailer to your website to your portfolio. Buyers want to know what to expect. Does all your material look like it came from the same person? If you need help packaging your presentation, work with a consultant. You can find a list of industry consultants on the ADBASE website.

Don't Get Overwhelmed...Just Do ONE Thing

This is not an easy business but there ARE jobs being assigned everyday. There is work out there. The competition is strong and you need to be on top of your game. Consider all aspects of what you do for your business. Today, do one thing to promote it.