marketing mailers for photographers

Photography Marketing Mailers on a Shoe String Budget

One year ago when I launched Photillustrator as an official business, and started creating the BEST One-of-a-Kind Portraits on the planet, I had big ideas and expectations for my art.

I had visions of my name in the spot light, and everyone wanting to have a Photillustrator Portrait.

While my name hasn’t yet seen a spot light, and I’ve been somewhat humbled to find out my Creative Style of Portraits isn’t for everyone, it’s gone pretty good considering starting this with ZERO dollars.

So, today I’m going to show you how I’m Marketing my Photography Business on a shoe string budget.

My Marketing Disclaimer

First off, the focus of this article is on how I’m marketing myself as an Advertising Photographer through an email database and mailers.

For this, I’m not going to be talking about book showings, phone calls, referrals, or any other marketing I may, or may not have done for Advertising Photography.

Second off, for some newbie Photographers, this may not seem like much of a “shoe string” budget, but compared to many Photographers successfully marketing themselves in Advertising, this is a nothing budget.

So, let’s take a look at what I’m doing, and at the end I’ll let you know whether it’s been successful or not for me.

Using an Email Database

When I started Photillustrator a year ago (Composite Photography: A Year in Review), I had ZERO dollars (literally) to work with, so I began building an email list by Googling Dallas Advertising Agencies, and by visiting Barnes & Nobles to go through every magazine I could find.

Admittedly, this approach kind of sucked, and wasn’t very successful for me.

The problem I quickly faced with this approach was, there was no way to determine who I needed to speak with, or contact them directly.

I grew frustrated and needed a different approach.

One afternoon while in my car, I was listening to one of Josh Rossi’s podcasts and the guest mentioned they were using Agency Access with a great deal of success.

In fact, they claimed it single handedly was to credit for building their Photography business.

So, I grabbed my iPhone, gave Agency Access a call, and within a month was using their Agency database for a small monthly fee of $161.00.

Agency Access: $161.00/month

I’ve always believed you had to spend money to make money, and I really wanted to become an Advertising Photographer.

Marketing Mailers

So, I have a database of Agencies throughout the country, I’m emailing them every 6 weeks as recommended by Agency Access, and to save money, I’ve elected to send my Marketing Mailers myself.

photography marketing mailers by dallas advertising photographer, jason ulsrud

You may be thinking, “This is awful simple isn’t it? Not very glamorous!”

And I would say to you, YES!

Sure, I would have loved to produce an amazing one-of-a-kind mailer designed to intrigue, and capture the Art Directors attention, but remember, I’m on a budget.

Let me break down my Marketing Mailers, and explain why I used what I did.

photography marketing mailers using jam envelopes

I chose to go with a standard envelope size to save on mailing budget, and not drive up costs with a square envelope that would better capture their attention better.

A brown envelope was chosen because I felt it looked different than the standard white envelope, and had a recycled feel to it.

Amazon: $99.18 per 250 envelopes

front of photography marketing mailers by photillustrator

back of promo pieces by dallas advertising photographer, jason ulsrud

For the promo pieces, I had to get creative, so I simply used the same promo cards I sell to clients when they choose the Hidden Touches feature for their Photillustrator Portrait.

Rather than purchasing the reasonable 100 quantity of cards, I bump it up to 250 with minimal additional charge.

If you’re interested where I get my 4 x 9 promo cards printed, shoot me an email at [email protected] and I’ll let you know.

Printing: $113.00 per 250 cards

hand signed photography marketing mailer by dallas advertising photographer, jason ulsrud

Once my email goes out to my Agency Access database, I go through each person who opened my email and add them to my spread sheet, so I can determine who I want to send a Marketing Mailer to.

There is a method to my selection madness, but that’s for another time.

Now that I have my Mailing List ready, I spend three or four days hand writing the address onto each envelope.

Talk about getting writers cramp…

I do this because I think people are more inclined to open mail that’s been hand written, and because I want each Creative to know I’m serious and I care about doing business with them.

Hand Written Address: Priceless

photography marketing mailers return address label

When I started sending Marketing Mailers to Advertising Agencies, I not only hand wrote in the agencies address, but I also hand wrote in my return address.

A few Marketing Mailers later, I decided, screw that, I’m doing return address labels.

Labels: $3.00

stamped photography marketing mailer envelope

Because I chose a standard envelope size, each envelope gets one (1) forever stamp.

Post Office: $100.00 per 100 stamps

choose happy stampTo give each envelope a little personal touch, and to hopefully at the very least leave everyone feeling better, I stamp the back with my “Choose Happy” stamp.

I do what I do because I want people to smile and experience happiness through my Photillustrator Portraits.

stack of photography marketing mailers by dallas advertising photographer, jason ulsrud

That’s a Wrap

Well, it wouldn’t be a wrap unless I shared the results of my Marketing Mailer efforts would it?

To date, I have received ZERO calls from the emails and mailers I’ve sent out.

Total Advertising Investment $476.18

After investing $476.18 on Marketing Mailers, it’s a fair question to ask…

  1. Is this an effective form of marketing?
  2. Is it time to try something different?

I know there’s no right answer, but it is reevaluation time.

What do you think of these Marketing Mailers, and what do you think could make them more effective?

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Comments (2)

Hi Jason, great post. I am at the very beginning stages of starting my business and like you, I am on a tight budget. I am considering sending mailers as you did. My question is, do you think it would be a good idea for me to try? Also, how did you eventually scale your business?

I think it’s a good idea to try anything you can afford. The only way anybody will know you exist is if you get out there and let them know. As far as scaling your business? That will come naturally as you get more business and figure out what YOU need to do to become more efficient in your processes.

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