Promoting your business offline

Pre-internet promotion looked very different. We relied on using print to show off our best work. We used to send out portfolios so prospects could see our work in print form. It’s all very well having a beautifully designed online portfolio, but you can’t hold it in your hands; you can’t smell the paper and ink; you can’t touch it.

That’s where the idea for my book, Ten Yrs Ltr came from - I wanted to get back to that, by creating a showcase of my best work. It’s a bit different, and it gives people a sense of nostalgia, making it a memorable experience.

There are other agencies who do this particularly well – the ones that stand out for me are both by DixonBaxi; Be Brave, which includes case studies of their work, and Monograph, a beautifully illustrated showcase of their most recent work highlighting the processes and thought behind each one.

Be Brave, by DixonBaxi. The Agency spirit, in print form.
Be Brave, DixonBaxi. The book captures the spirit of how [they] partner with clients to solve significant brand challenges through creativity.
Monograph by DixonBaxi. Life inside a leading branding agency
Monograph, DixonBaxi. The self-published 300-page monograph is a snapshot in time of a leading brand agency.

It doesn’t have to be as complicated as a book. Something I like to do is present my prospects with a selection of my work as printed material – it helps me to stand out because rather than turning up to a meeting with a slideshow on a laptop, I’m letting them see what my work looks like and feels like as a real document.

I think people appreciate it when you’ve gone to the effort of presenting yourself in this way and also making it personal to them. It shows that you understand their requirements and that you’re knowledgeable about how design can work for them specifically. It makes them remember you.

In today’s world, we are so focused on the online way of doing things, we’ve lost sight of the enormous possibilities that print promotion holds. Sure, we rely on online marketing, but perhaps having print promotion to accompany that should be something we consider more.

Keep it simple

How many of us have business cards anymore? You might believe they’re irrelevant in today’s world, but I’d disagree.

Far from just a piece of card with your number on it, a business card can be used to really show people your design capabilities. By playing with the design of your business card, you can make it something different and memorable – there are so many options here, from the kind of material you use, the shape (it really doesn’t have to be a rectangle), use of embossing or metallics, and making good use of both sides of the card.

It’s in print and in the Mail

TENYRSLTR by Tony Clarkson. Celebrating a milestone.
Celebrating a Milestone: TENYRSLTR

People love getting stuff in the mail. It’s something we’ve lost in the digital age, but I think it still has relevance. A while ago, I came across a little stack of letters I’d written back in 1998 to try and get an agency job. They were in envelopes, along with my 20-year-old CV. I decided to make something of them, so I sent them out with a cover letter to the original recipients. It was a bit of a gimmick, but I got a nice response from it – including this reply from one of the partners at Pentagram:

“Your 1998 CV ended up on my desk. Really liked the paper and feel - you just don't get these sort of CVs anymore - funny though what might have been.

"I looked at your site - would love to see your book…”

Dominic Lippa, Pentagram

By sending that letter, I prompted a written response but also moved the recipient to go and look at my website and gave him the desire to purchase a copy of my book. Would I have got the same response if I’d sent an email? Almost certainly not. (and it’s since available to buy…)

To Be Continued… 20 years later.

Creative bubble

I think perhaps it’s easy to get lost in the sheer vastness of the online world. And yes, I agree that most of us need to have a strong online presence because that’s where our customers are. But it is increasingly an overcrowded place. So perhaps we can get the edge by looking at creating more offline content, too. Because print is definitely not dead.