One of Your Greatest Marketing Tools: The Holiday Card

Throughout my career, Skip Cohen has always been one of my greatest mentors and inspirations. He has been in the photographic industry since 1970, when he began his 17 1/2 years with Polaroid's R&...

Throughout my career, Skip Cohen has always been one of my greatest mentors and inspirations. He has been in the photographic industry since 1970, when he began his 17 1/2 years with Polaroid’s R&D team. Since then, he has held numerous other leadership positions in the industry, written 5 books on photography, garnered many awards, and founded GoingPro and Marketing Essentials International, and kicked off Skip’s Summer School. He’s also an all-around joy to work with. Skip has graced us in the past with his advice for garnering sponsorship, and I’m happy to have him today for a special post to help prepare us for the holiday season! P.S. Thanks for the kind words about my holiday cards, Skip :)

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Post + Photo by Skip Cohen

Now is the time to start thinking about your holiday cards, and you want to make sure you get it right this year. Why? There are few things worse than a photographer buying a box of Hallmark cards at holiday time! There is no better way to show your work than on your own cards and stationery

While they may seem like clichés, holiday cards can impact your business. Why, as a photographer, would you buy your holiday cards and stationery in card shops, instead of utilizing one of your own images? Think about it for a second. What better way to demonstrate your abilities and to market your work than to use one of your own images on a card? It’s easy, it’s a soft sell and your own logo and business information on the back of the card tells people a lot more than a bar code! Plus, it shows you have pride in your own work!

Catherine Hall produces one of the most beautiful cards year after year. She also wins best positioning of her logo and contact information on the back of the card. Australian photographer Marcus Bell typically features his staff in the card. He also sends out beautifully signed prints to a handful of industry people who he’s worked with during the year – another nice touch. I have one of his images framed over my desk right now and it’s become a cherished piece of art in my home.

However, the card I hold my breath waiting for each year is from Bleu Cotton and Allison Pierce. They’ve made their sense of humor into an artform and it will some day be declared a national treasure! In past years they’ve been featured in the card with Bleu as Santa, Allison as an elf, and their son, Fisher, now upstages both of them! If Fisher plays his cards right and listens to everything Mom and Dad teach him about life and laughter, we’ll see him doing standup on the Tonight Show in twenty years!

Okay, so there’s one point here: Take the time before it’s too late, and choose an image for your own cards. Helen Yancy uses a beautiful watercolor image on her thank-you notes. Bambi Cantrell has used several of her very best wedding images. Barbara Smith creates her own stationery with absolutely stunning Auratones. She’s even written two books about using your images for not only your stationery, but a long list of products for your clients.

Once in a while I even try and practice what I preach, using three images from a portrait session with Bambi Cantrell of me with Molly the Wonder Dog for one year’s card.

Whether the economy was tough or not, the issue would still be the same – it takes a constant effort to keep your name out there with the public. Most of you are sitting on a gold mine of your own images and barely take advantage of the real asset they could be as a marketing tool! Show your confidence in your own work and when people turn the card over to look for the Hallmark label, how terrific it would be if they saw your name instead!


How can a photographer with no real world experience in card or stationary design, start using this opportunity?

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