How Not To Promote
This post is inspired by a very earnest but very poor promotional email I recently received.
In the email, this young artist whom I do not know at all, started off by proclaiming how amazing the recipient of the email (me) is, how fortunate we all are to work in this industry (true) and grow together (not true, see below), and please share their information with friends and family.
Whoa whoa whoa.
This would be a bad email even if I knew this person at all for reasons I’ll go into in a minute, but I. Do. Not. Know. This. Person. At all. Hence I do not know anything about them personally or professionally. Nothing. Adding to the bizarro world nature of the email is it is written as if we do know each other. The language is very familiar in tone, the way it would be as if we were having an in-person conversation. The photograph – while very cute – is a personal candid, completely unrelated to makeup and there is no photo of their work in the email… It’s just *weird*. If this email was sent this to me, I’m willing to assume it was sent to a number of strangers. If this artist is fortunate, most will just politely ignore it. Others, however, may respond and I would have to guess that few would respond favorably.
As with most of my BizTalk columns, what I am about to write is born from experience of having made mistakes myself. Do not let your promotional efforts leave people shaking their heads thinking they’ve entered Bizarro World. Here’s some tips to get your message across more effectively.
1) Be friendly but STAY PROFESSIONAL
Back in the day, I got dinged once for being a bit too casual in my language when I emailed a photographer with whom I was interested in working. It’s true you do not want to be too stiff – this is the creative industries, not Investment Banking – but it is still a business and you still want to present yourself as a professional. Also, while including a photo of yourself can be a good way to make e-communication a bit more personal, you want to include an image of your work. One would think this wouldn’t need to be said but I will go ahead and say it; If you’re asking folks to hire you as a makeup artist, you should show folks Your Work as a makeup artist.
2) Know Who You Are Speaking To
This email could have been acceptable if I really did know this young artist and we were peers. I definitely would not send this to anyone in a position to hire me, nor is it an email I would sent to anyone who is my Senior. This artist made it sound like we are equals, striving to be makeup artists together. I really hate that. Anyone can see my work and see that I’m an established artist. Please approach me in that way. Looking at this artists website, I would not refer them to a job the likes of which I do, nor would I at all consider them to be my peer. I would consider an artist at that level as an assistant. A bit of research reveals that this artist just graduated from a makeup school within the last year. I mean, I have past students who have been out and working for longer than that. I have been a working as a freelance media makeup artist (no bridal, no counter, no “safety job”) for well over a decade.
Listen, I am NEVER going to address Pat McGrath as if we are “sisters in the struggle” together. I am always going to respect her accomplishments and position in her career and address her as the Senior artist that she is. Pat McGrath would not consider me to be her peer, nor should she.
I am not Pat McGrath, but I’m not a beginner so do not talk to me like one. Come again, boo. Come again…
3) You Need Multiple Marketing Campaigns
Again, if this artist were sending this email to their friends and family – people this artist actually knows – it could be fine. We all communicate differently to the different people and relationships we have in our lives. How I address my existing clients is totally different from my approach to cold calls. How I approach say an ad agency is different from how I approach a photographer, and so on. “One size fits all” promoting in my experience does not work. If you send a blanket promotion out to everyone, at best you risk sending something that’s too generic and hence not engaging and easily ignored. At worst you risk going into Bizzaro World.
4) Seriously, Learn How To Network
This email was going into “whatever”-ville UNTIL the part about looking at their website and referring this artist to people I know. That is a ridiculous request on multiple levels;
First of all, since I do not know this artist at all, why would I recommend them? On the real, I may as well just tell friends, family, or whomever to do a Google search. I have no way of knowing if this artist is any good, if they are professional, if they’re clean, if they’re nice. I know nothing. And sending a bad referral is just as damaging to one’s reputation as doing a bad job. I am not taking the chance of referring a wack artist, ever.
Secondly, asking for referrals is NOT networking. As stated in the image I used at the top of this article, that’s going for the ask WAY too soon. As has been said a thousand times: this is a relationship industry. You have to build relationships and build trust and then – and only then – will people start to refer you.
Lastly, most artists hate doing self promotion. I barely want to do my own promotions, why would I – or anyone else who is not an agent – want to do someone else’s promotion for them? LOL! I’ll pass, thanks…
5) My Friends and Family Already Know A Pretty Good Makeup Artist 😉
Translation: You should probably market yourself to people who are not makeup artists themselves (unless you’re approaching artists because you want to assist).
Chin Up. We All Make Mistakes…
Since I do not know this young artist I do not know how they found me and I don’t know if they will see this post. If they do, I hope they take this in the spirit in which its intended which is to educate (hence I’m not posting any specifics or identifying info). This is not a “shaming” post. We’ve all made mistakes, myself included. That said, sometimes a little constructive criticism is in order. Early early on I was trying to meet photographers and I had a (terrible) little promo with a (terrible) photo. Before mailing it out en mass I sent it to a couple of people whose opinion I respect and they did me the favor of telling me DO NOT SEND THAT TO ANYONE. My feelings were probably hurt at the time, but following their advice probably saved me both heartache and money (this was before email, when you had to print promo cards and send them out via post. AKA, the stone-age). It took me a minute to find my voice and approach in my marketing and I’m still not fantastic at it because it is just not my personality. However by continuing to evolve my promotions and taking advice where given, my campaigns are much better and more effective than they used to be. And who knows, maybe this e-promo worked for this artist? I doubt it, but I have no way of knowing for sure. One way or another they made a grip of mistakes that are best not repeated in the future. Hopefully this artist’s next promo will fab and it will put them in position to achieve favorable results.
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