Wednesday is Ask an Art Buyer day. Send your questions to email@example.com with the subject line Ask an Art Buyer. I’ll answer as many as I can every Wednesday.
I didn’t actually get any “Ask and Art Buyer” questions this week (c’mon people, this is your chance to ask a real live Art Buyer anything you want…) so I thought I’d highlight a couple of email promos I recently got that worked for me. Both of these made me stop and read and then click through to see the work.
Before I show you Robyn Vicker’s recent promo, you need to know a bit about the campaign that she’s referencing. Robyn is a tabletop shooter and she recent shot a piece of cereal for Shreddies. The entire campaign got huge attention and came close to winning a Titanium & Integrated Award at Cannes this year. Here’s the highlights reel:
In a nutshell, the agency has pinned a whole campaign and rebrand on a 45 degree spin of the cereal. It is a phenomenon in Canada. The fact that the idea came from Ogilvy’s summer intern has become legend.
So a couple of weeks ago Robyn sent this to my inbox:
Now, without question, this campaign does not highlight the best work Robyn has done or can do. For that, you should go here. She’s a great shooter with a fresh take on tabletop. I might even say this promo was successful for her despite the photography. I might go one further and say this promo was successful for the copy and not the image.
Associating herself with a successful campaign is obviously smart. But the story she presents is funny, appropriate to the context of the campaign in general, and it’s well written. So, I spent time reading it and I now associate her as someone who “gets” advertising and who’s a bit cheeky. She doesn’t take it all too seriously.
Turns out I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. I asked her rep, Mahshad at Sugarmama if this promo was successful for Robyn. She said:
Yes, I had the biggest response ever to any of my emailers, more than 400 people opened (37%) and a few replies from people who found it funny. Also, I Have an Idea made a comment about it in a discussion group about the campaign. It was written by Jane Murray who’s the copywriting side of the team that created it, Ivan Pols being the AD. I think it was a great extension of the campaign’s big idea.
And then on Monday, at 10.30 in the morning, I got an email from Jonathan Saunders with the subject line Remembering George Carlin. Here’s what it looked like in my in-box:
So you can see it:
This worked because it was so topical and heartfelt without being maudlin. I’m not a big George Carlin fan and yet I read the whole thing. And because of Jonathan’s sensibilities, which I gleaned from the shot and the words, I clicked through. Plus it felt really fresh, Carlin had just died the night before.
The story also telegraphed other important attributes of Jonathan’s:
• He is comfortable and has experience working with celebrities
• He has worked for TIME
• He sets up early and waits
• He’s able to roll with the punches without getting flustered (blowing circuits)
• He’s prepared (he had a second shot prepared)
• He seems genuinely interested in the world and excited about shooting it.
Plus, Jonathan’s a really good storyteller. It may sound cliche but I think that we all want to work with good storytellers.
Turns out Jonathan chose to send the promo out to a select and fairly small group. His immediate response, at the outset at least, was fair but not overwhelming. I asked him about it.
I was torn about sending the email about Carlin. I didn’t want it to appear as if I was simply trying to hock my images of a deceased celebrity, so it was really important to me to make it about what it meant to me to photograph him and how it really was one of my happiest days as a photographer.
I didn’t get too much response actually to the Carlin email. I sent 390 to a list I have made on my own of PE’s, rep’s and a small number of art buyers. I heard from one rep I have never heard from before, “Thanks Jonathan – it is a great shot of him.” That was the entire email, but it was greatly appreciated and good to know that this rep was taking to my promotions over time and I was officially on their radar. I cannot say who just yet, but one regular client will run it in a quarter page soon and confessed that my image was already on their mind when they got my email.390 sent, 12 bounces, 120 opens (many multiple opens from one contact), 20 click-through to one of my two sites linked in the email.
As you all know, figuring out how to effectively promote yourself is a tricky puzzle indeed. Jonathan actually wrote about this on his blog under the title The System is Broken. Yep, sounds like it is. Bravo then to Robyn and Jonathan for making me spend so much time with their imagery. Hell, I even blogged about it.
*Update: Caitlin at An Art Producer’s Perspective has a nice little bit about email promos here.