I was impressed with all of the talent that I had the honor of reviewing at the Palm Springs Photo Festival earlier this month, but one leave-behind in particular made a big impression on me.
When NYC product photographer Lilia Cretcher arrived at my table for her review, the first thing that she did was lay down an envelope with my name on it. That told me right away that she had done her homework and valued the time that we would spend together. I liked her before I even opened her book.
While modest in its design, the thoughtfulness and uniqueness of this print piece left such an impression, I asked her if I could share it with you all.
Lilia chose a frosted but clear envelope to hold her promo and inside was also a personalized, hand-written note on heavy card stock with her logo.
AC: No one else that I saw in Palm Springs took the time to personalize their leave behinds so intentionally ahead of the reviews, it really stood out to me. Tell me a little bit about your thought process and what inspired you to create your leave behinds this way.
LC: The original concept for these promos was to be a mailer so a lot of the initial design and planning regarding their look was centered around the idea that they had to be visually appealing while also being able to withstand the New York USPS. This is where the idea for the pocket envelopes was born because I felt like they would be a sturdy outer barrier for the content within while still allowing the flexibility for me to design the layout of the items. From the beginning I knew I needed the envelope to house three main items: my business card, a traditional promo with an image, and some other unique item which I wanted to have some type of interactive element.
We have a wonderful store called Paper Presentation, which sadly is going the way of most NY institutions and (if it hasn’t already) is closing its doors. It was really the impetus for the creation of the final product because I was able to spend time looking through shelves upon shelves of envelope styles and options and start to get a sense of what this thing was actually going to look and feel like. I don’t know that I would have been as successful if I wasn’t able to physically see and hold the items in my hand before determining the final products I would buy.
As far as what ended up being the final components that makeup the leave behind, it all just kind of came together naturally as I went through the process of designing it.
The promo folded out to include carefully secured photo postcards, a clever return-addressed and stamped post card, and Lilia’s business card. I loved the idea of having a return postcard for feedback, it’s like an old-school version of tracking your email opens or click-throughs. The design made me think of a wedding invitation.
LC: I decided on the postcards because the actual physical dimensions made sense with this design, it gave me the ability to fully prepare the card in advance for maximum ease, was cost effective, and met the criteria of the initial goal I had which was to have some interactive element to them. And lastly, I knew I wanted to have a personal, hand written note included. This again allows for a level of flexibility and customization that I love because it allows me to add a little piece of myself (not just more work) to the design, while also acknowledging something specific about the individual I am giving it to. I think everyone expects to receive an email or note after a portfolio review thanking them for their time, but I don’t think people necessarily expect to receive one on the spot, and I feel like that’s a good way to stand apart from everyone else in the moment.
AC: How many of these have to given/sent out, and how many post cards have you received back?
LC: I have given out 40-50 so far and have received maybe 5-10 post cards back. I went into it knowing that would most likely be the case, but I liked the idea of “audience participation” regardless of if I actually received any return cards. The most common response has been kind words of encouragement which is always a treat to receive in the mail!
AC: Who designed them and where did you have them printed?
LC: I designed all of the components and the layout of the pocket envelope, as well as printed the postcards and the promos with my images. My business cards and the “Nice to meet you” notecards are printed by Moo. I used adhesive photo corners in the same color as the pocket envelope to create additional places within the envelope to hold materials (in this case my business card, and postcard).
AC: Any lessons learned from doing this? Or, how would you do them differently in the future?
LC: I am pretty happy with the design and flexibility that they allow for. Because I am the one adding the photo corners to hold the desired material I can change it up depending on my needs for each specific event. I think these work great for portfolio reviews. I would like to test them out as a mailer at some point as I originally intended, but it would have to be to a specific targeted group as I don’t think they make sense as a mass mailer.
Thanks to Lilia Cretcher for allowing me to share her promo and process. You can follow Lilia on Instagram @liliacretcherphoto.
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