Art of Self Promotion pt. 2
So continuing from last week’s post, “The Art of Self Promotion pt. 1“, I discussed steps 1-6 on how to plan and concept a self promotional print piece. This week, I continue with steps 7-12 on developing your piece, delivering it, and promoting it.
Step 7: Design
This is where all the nitty gritty details come in, and it’s also where good promo’s set themselves apart from the garbage can (hopefully recycling). Take your time and sweat the details. You must have pride in your piece and make it worth printing.
Keep it consistent!
- Make sure everything is aligned
- Use 3 fonts or less (and I would argue 2 is more than efficient)
- Create good (but interesting) type.
- Have a color palette
Step 8: Proof
I don’t care if you have an eagle eye. Make sure you get at least one other person to proof your piece. Catching a mistake after hours of printing, cutting and folding could be devastating and costly, not to mention embarrassing and a sure signs of a rookie with little attention to detail. This is the time where you should also be printing out your piece and prototyping it, testing for color, legibility, and usability. In the case that you have something that has several folds or components, It’s important to make sure your design works as you intended . If it’s got some special folds, test it on the real paper it’s going to be printed on.
If you’re having your piece printed professionally, make sure you get a proof from your printer. Don’t hesitate to circle every little ding and misalignment you see because it’s their job to make it perfect. Also by this time you’ll probably realize your colors are darker or “off” from what you imagined. If you have a good printer, they should work with you on matching your desired colors as close as possible. Do keep in mind that trying to match a pantone swatch while printing digitally is not going to happen, but they can try to get close. Having a set of Pantone Color Bridge swatch books is a really good idea. They can show you how your PMS color would look on coated and uncoated paper in CMYK.
Step 9: Produce
Once you have it absolutely perfect, it’s time to print!
When printing at home, I print out everything I need and can usually get my boyfriend to help me in an assembly line fashion. I cut and fold, while he glues and presses. If you’re all on your own, do one step fist to all of them and then the next step, until you’re done.
If printing with a professional, all you have to do is wait. They may send back another proof if you had any fixes on the previous, or send a digital proof. That will of course push back your delivery date, but hey perfection has it’s price. Some printers will even distribute your promo for you (assuming it’s mail ready). You usually have to give them a distro list (distribution list with names and addresses), and I’ve only seen this done with large companies that can afford to pay the fees, but it’s worth asking if they provide that service.
Step 10: Document
A lot of people forget this step, but you MUST document your final result. Self promo’s even for yourself can be great portfolio pieces. Yes, it’s personal work but it serves a real world purpose and can also act as another channel for exposure.
Tips for photographing your promo:
Use good even and natural lighting, nothing that will create harsh shadows or discoloration (i.e no flash and no fluorescent or incandescent bulbs)
Have a large clean surface with no distractions. I typically use a large sheet of white plastic that you can get from Tap Plastic, but a (clean) white sheet or even a big poster board will do.
If you want to go for a more “environmental” background, that’s fine. Just make sure the environment suits your project. If you were to photograph a cookbook, a window lit table near a kitchen would be a good environment, not the bedroom or an office. Get the picture? Here’s an example.
I make it a good practice to shoot all sides, (or every spread if it’s a book portfolio), and in multiple positions:
- directly above (getting everything in view) (birds eye view)
- ground level (ant view)
- close up on the details (macro)
- different degree angles
Step 11: Distribute
Hopefully while figuring out your budget and deciding your quantities, you also created some form of a distribution list. This is a list of the companies and individuals you want to send your promotion to. I have a little pocket-sized notebook that I put all my “dream jobs” in. On each page I write the company info, contacts, address, and phone number if listed. I also write down the companies’ strengths and which projects I plan on sending to them (I had the freedom of picking and choosing a sample because I went with a flash card approach.)
However you choose to deliver, either in person or through the mail, be sure to check all your contact information twice. Make sure you have the right person you’re sending it to and be sure to follow-up with an email, letting them know they can expect a small packet from you in the mail.
Step 12: Promote
I know, it’s kind of funny thought to promote your promotion, but it is a project just like any other and you should want to show it off. This goes back to your documenting step. Be sure to post the photos of your self promo on your website, a blog, Facebook and twitter. Utilize every social media you can to get the word out there that you created a new project and it was successful. In promoting it, you might find people might even ask you for a copy.
While in the development stage of my self promo, I was trying to think of a creative way to showcase and promote my promotion. I wanted to not only show people that I made one, but demonstrate that I can do this for others. Jeremy Widen, my boyfriend and partner in crime, had recently done a stop motion video unveiling of a Zacuto product he had purchased and I thought that idea would be perfect for my promo since it had so many flaps and pieces to it. I asked him to put together one for me and here’s the final result (view full screen):
And that’s it. After sending out your promotion, hopefully it will serve it’s purpose and gain you the results you wanted. If you planned carefully and designed toward your target market, you should see some increased business. If not, here are some questions you can ask yourself (and answer honestly)
- Was my message clear?
- Did I say too much and confuse my user?
- Is my portfolio strong and suited for the audience I’m trying to reach?
- Is my promo interesting and does it look professional?
- Did I leave my contact info in a clear and visible location?
- Did I create a Call to Action for my target user to respond to?
- Did I promote it well enough?
I hope this was helpful. Be sure to subscribe (main page of my blog) and follow along to this new series “The Design Process” where I go into every step from Self Promo to Invoicing and every step in between.