Marketing Yourself: Ben’s Commercial Mailer
Above are the front and back of the commercial mailer I recently designed. You can click on the images to see a larger version of them.
What exactly IS it?
So, when printed, the document becomes about 4″ x 8″ and fits in a standard legal size envelope. It is a marketing tool I can use to mail to commercial casting directors, commercial agents, or anyone else in the commercial world.
Why this size?
The theory behind this size mailer comes directly from The Actor’s Network (are you serious? You haven’t joined TAN yet? You embarrass me…). The idea here is that most actors send 8×10 headshots, or 4×6 postcards, and putting a piece of mail in an envelope makes it more likely to be opened and given extra attention by the person receiving the mail.
Primarily the purpose of this mailing is to market myself, getting people in the commercial world to better recognize my face and name in a positive light.
I’m a huge fan of personalization, which is why I have the “Ben says…” box. That’s an area I can write a thank you note to a commercial casting director who called me in, or a note saying how I hope someone has a great Kwanzaa, or tell them congrats on their Heller Award.
I remember a light going off during a conversation I had early on in LA with Brian Vermeire (co-founder of PerformerTrack), when he told me that mailers (postcards, “odd-sized mailers”, whatever) should not be about you. Make the mailer about the other person…thank from for something, congratulate them on an accomplishment, whatever.
Building brand recognition is all about getting your face and name out there. Moreover, increasing the number of positive associations people have with your face and name (read: your brand), the greater chance that someone will remember you and think to call you in the next time they come across your headshot.
Positive Associations on the Mailer:
- CESD. They are a great agency, and I want people in the commercial world to know that I am now represented by them
- The Groundlings. There is arguably no more important training than improv for commercials right now. Every commercial CD wants to see improv training from a place like The Groundlings, UCB, IO West, or Second City.
- Killian’s Workshop. Killian is a very highly respected commercial coach in town who people in the industry very much know and respect.
- Union Status. Being a member of either union (or even being eligible for SAG) shows a certain level of professionalism and indicates that you are at a more advanced place in your career
Just a few comments on the design. First of all, the colors, fonts, etc. match both my website and my twitter profile (mad thanks to Trent Gillaspie for his design help on the twitter profile). I also wanted my name and the primary headshot from my LA Casting profile to be prominent. I also wanted to keep it simple, not trying to cram a bunch of special skills or other things on the mailer…those can go on the next one. In addition, while this is very much about brand recognition, I have my personal contact information as well as my agent’s contact info, in case the receiver happens to need someone just like me at that exact moment and wants to call me in right then and there. Oh, and I used photoshop to do the actual design.
I used VistaPrint.com to get these printed, which I’ve had very good luck with in the past. If you do go through VistaPrint, be SURE to check out the coupons on this page. There is a coupon for 50% off and free shipping, for example, that you get simply by clicking on it. And with all those savings you can spring a few extra bucks to print these suckers on recycled paper.
To begin with the rack card, you can go to this VistaPrint page, click on the “Full Upload Specifications” tab, then click “Download a template for Rack Cards.” You can use that to design your rack card to the proper specifications and ensure the proper bleed around the edges.
I’ve also heard very good things about gotprint.net, which has the added bonus of a Burbank location where you can go to pick up your order free of charge.
Note: You work hard enough for your money. Don’t make the same mistake I did and forget to have someone else (preferably a total grammar and spelling snob) look over your final draft before you do the final upload and pay. On that note, “commercial” is spelled with two m’s. 😉
Although I would have never thought about it, a significant amount of your job as an actor in Los Angeles is marketing yourself. Mailers are just one way to do that, but one that can prove effective if done consistently over time. So how often should you send out some sort of mailer? The general consensus from industry professionals seems to be every 4 – 8 weeks, particularly if you “have something to say” (you’re in a play, have a spot on TV coming up, got a new agent, whatever). However, the more you make the mailer about the other person, the easier it is to “have something to say.” Happy marketing!
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