Portfolio Mailer

Yo -

So my last post got me thinking and rethinking about my portfolio :wink: Thanks again for all the pointers. I was wondering are Portfolio Mailers still relevant? For a class last summer, we made mini portfolios (design up to the student), did not show them for review, and mailed them to our professor to open on the final day of class. In summary, the point was like I guess a cold call to someone you would want to work for who may or may not be hiring at the moment; you know a visual introduction rather than just sending a resume.

My design was based on a swatch I once had of different gels/filters for a light kit (in a different life I was a film major). It was printed on a heavy glossy paper stock, double sounded; the stock had a nice weight but it was still easy to fan out and the clasp could be easily removed if you wanted to take it apart to examine, and if you seriously hated it, well hey you have some new coasters. The total was between $40-50 and printed at big box store, FedEx Kinkos; I tried Staples totally horrible and I didn’t have time to find a local print shop. As we all know school is way different than life, esp. in the world of Covid; is this a tactic still worth it, maybe just wait for an interview to leave one as a calling card, or just stay electronic with my portfolio website?

(yeah blurry it was a snapshot text I sent to a friend, I only made one physical copy which I don’t have anymore and there were about 10 or so cards, I think 5/6 pieces, a summary, “cover”, business card)

If I did do this again, the pieces would be different, but I think the design would still be the same, maybe the backs of the cards would have a short description rather than just be a different close-up/portion of the selected piece.


Here’s my two cents.

My email inbox is jammed full. My physical mailbox? Not so much. So I think traditional mail is a great way to stand out. Especially if the mailer goes out in a nicely designed box, oversized envelope or tube.

I make promo books that have an embossed cover with double loop (aka wire o) binding. These have been successful for me. The key, and this is the part most designers hate, is the follow up. Don’t just mail it off and hope for the best. Mail it out and follow up with a phone call. That way, you’re making a “warm call” rather than a “cold call.”

If I received your promo piece, yeah, I’d open it in a heartbeat. So, yes, I think direct mail is still relevant — but you have to do it right.

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At the time I wanted to keep things simple, clear. I did some research, and I didn’t want it to feel like someone needed instructions to open it or view it. The envelope was bubbled and light gray; the “swatch” was just wrapped in gray and black tissue paper. Yeah, now I would put a little more thought into the actual packaging.

A few years ago, the magazine I was working at was scheduled to go out of business. I had a bunch of nice mouse pads printed up promoting, well, me. I sent out just a handful as a test. I had job offers within a week or two.

I’m not suggesting you do the same with mousepads, but I am suggesting that sending out too-nice-to-throw-away promotional pieces can work — especially when they’re carefully targeted to just the right people and include a personal note written just for them.

An ad agency that I’ve worked with quite a bit sends out an elaborate holiday poster/card each year that they spend months putting together. I have no idea how much it costs them in terms of time, but one of the partners at the agency told me that they’ve turned into collectibles that bring in lots more business than they spend on them.

As @Steve_O said, people’s email inboxes are full. Sending out physical, tactile things that are just too cool and nice to be tossed and forgotten can work — especially when it’s the kind of thing that art or creative directors will leave sitting on their desks for a few days reminding them of you each time they look at it.

It’s been a long time since I’ve received something in the mail that caught my attention. I can remember the last time very clearly as it was beyond nicely printed, had multiple paper textures and a real “weight” to it. And it was simply a “Welcome to the Toyota Family” thing with all kinds of perks for my new truck, way back when. With today’s throw away and trash print economy, something like that really stands out.

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