I’ll be blunt. I see a lot of marketing materials that just plain suck. In the grand scheme of things, I usually work with people on other things, but unless you’ve heard me say “wow, nice marketing materials” then you’re probably on the “not great” list. The problem I have with poor marketing materials is honestly how easy they are to achieve these days. It’s not like we have to buy our own printing presses to make business cards and we don’t have to learn to code websites from scratch with HTML/CSS/JS anymore. So I figured I’d write a post that once and for all helps you grab the lowest-hanging fruit of marketing materials improvement.
Get nice (and thick) business cards
If you get deep into business cards, you eventually do end up in that scene of American Psycho with Christian Bale and the hilarious business cards that all look the same but are slightly different, I’ve actually been in a situation like this…
When you exchange business cards, there’s a certain amount of information about yourself that you’re giving off. Two easy ways that you can quickly improve your business card game are as follow. Firstly, keep your card clean and minimal. I’ve seen cards with allllllllllllllll kinds of information on them and then a QR code on the back with a download link to your latest whatever that you made. Please spare me. PLEASE! I don’t care. We’re probably exchanging business cards because I need some of the following information:
- Your name
- Your company name/position
- Your email
- Your website (but I could usually just deduce this from your email address WHICH SHOULD BE FROM YOUR DOMAIN!!!!)
- Your phone number (probably not even this one, who calls people anymore??)
That’s it. Please don’t include your CV on there, or a download link, or QR code to your website, or your office street address, or multiple phone numbers if you don’t include that, or logos of awards you’ve won, or a list of all the services you provide. I think you get the point. Keep it dead simple. And use both sides. Nothing says “I didn’t want to spend money on this” like having everything on one side and nothing on the other. If your minimal info fits on one side cleanly with lots of white space, then a great picture of one of your projects on the other, or even just a really professional headshot of yourself (although that’s not as great as your work).
Secondly, make it thick. Just like having a blank back signals stinginess to me, a thin paper stock also does the same. I wouldn’t recommend getting anything under 16-pt card stock, even that is kind of entry level. I can immediately tell when someone has the $9.99 Vistaprint cards that you only paid for to remove their logo from the back. There are lots of places you can get business cards, I’ve used Moo Cards over the years in North America for quick and pretty effective cards with lots of card stock options and good quality printing.
Lately, I may sound like I want you to make the most business card ever, but that’s not true! I’m a serial business card maker. I love being creative with them. Once I made ones that had blind letter press company name on one side, and black letter press info on the other and they were as thick as damn coasters!!!! Be creative while being minimal with all the information and using both sides.
I’m not lying when I tell you I’ve gotten meetings with investors simply by giving them my cards and they’re shocked at how seriously I’ve taken it and how much thought and care I put into it. I’ve been at conferences where everyone was trying to court the same investors, and they told me “this is the best business card at this whole conference.” They knew I wasn’t messing around. Think of it this way, if each card you gave away costed even $2 (which is a super expensive business card), but it gave you a noticeable edge when trying to win clients and projects, you’d pay off all your business cards within one project….it’s a no-brainer!!
Have a video reel
People like videos. Plain and simple. It’s easier than reading and they’ll probably understand more by watching a well crafted video than they will reading whatever you wrote on your site. Combined with the fact that we’re in the era of YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, and Snapchat, to be text heavy is to go against the grain (and not really in a good way…). If you’ve been working on projects for a while, there will almost certainly be videos out there of your projects, even if you didn’t take them personally. If you’re working with agencies or under another company, you can always ask them if they created any video documentation you can share. If you have been working on lower-budget gigs or your own personal projects, you need to get in the habit of documenting your work in video. This could mean that you have to buy a half way decent mirrorless DLSR, or you have to hire a friend of yours who’s a videographer/DP who can come and shoot a half hour worth of content for you. If you’re really tight on budget, you could even record with a newer iPhone or Android phone, the cameras are all pretty great now
But the moral of the story is this: there’s almost never a lack of video or documentation about a project for any reason other than us being lazy and not taking the time to do it. Take the time to do it, or ask other people who worked on the project. Take the best clips and make a 1-2 minute video showing the best stuff with nice music. People will love it and start calling you for gigs based on it.
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Send professional emails
You know the funniest thing people will subconsciously judge you on? Your grammar, sentence structure, email formatting, and proper capitalization in email. For all my international friends, this doesn’t mean your English has to be perfect, but you do have to make it look like you tried to write a nice email and that you’re good at it. You have to capitalize the beginning of sentences and proper nouns. Use full artist/client names when you’re talking to the client and not just some short forms that are slang. Make sure your bullet lists use proper formatted bullets if you can or at very least a dash on a new line like the 2 lists below:
- One (looks pro!)
– A list like below
– How about this
– Not as great but works
You might laugh, but you’ll be judged. If you write crappy emails people will subconsciouly think that you’re either too young or too new at the game. They’ll think that if you don’t have the business acumen to write professional emails, you probably don’t charge that much either. I also can’t stress just how easy this one is. You’ll find it becomes habit very quick.
I know you must feel strange having read +1000 words of some guy rambling to getting thick business cards and writing professional emails, but they all really do impact your professional image. These things set the tone of your whole working relationship with a client or partner or investor or whomever. Set that bar high with things that are easy so that you can blow them out of the water with the important stuff like your personality and skills. Otherwise you’re fighting an uphill battle against everyone else who has a great personality and lots of skills (which these days is everyone!).