Back in the days of the $0.24 stamp, I was starting a business aptly named Ryan Weber Photography. I was shoe-stringing it back then and marketing was my biggest concern and most costly recurring expense. At that time, there was no “social media”, very little focused online interaction, and we were still sending out promo pieces by mail.
Starting from meager beginnings did help me realize the power of a stamp though. I realized that for a nice shiny quarter, one stamp could possibly change my business and my life. If I just put the right words to paper and sent it to the right editor, art director, or buyer. It worked a few times, securing me assisting gigs and paid jobs. And while I’m spending much more on marketing now, I still realize the value of something small.
Case in point, this last holiday I had intended to send a thank you gift to all my clients. I receive them every year from my best vendors and I thought it’d be a nice gesture. But life got in the way and I had to settle on a New Years gift. Except that a big, last-minute estimate request popped up in my email and I never got around to constructing my gifts. I still have two bags of snowglobes sitting by my desk. So, come January 5th, I decided that I better take a few minutes to compose a year-in-review-and-thank-you email to send to clients. A simple “Thanks for being a rockin’ client” kind of composition, followed by a recap of where Radiant stands. We’ve done a couple things this year to add peace of mind for our clients, like remaining debt-free and sitting on cash reserves to weather the economy, securing higher liability insurance, and securing a worker’s comp plan to cover assistants and other contracted vendors on shoots. So far numerous clients have responded with appreciation for the gesture and confirmation that we’ll be doing more business in the coming year. It was a smaller effort than my original plans, but I think it made more of an impact. A kind Thank You and peace of mind beats out cookies or snowglobes, I guess.
Another example happened recently when I wrote a local architectural firm to simply thank them for their very photographic architecture and thoughtfulness of their designs in this desert environment. We share a client and I’ve been exposed to the firm’s work now on shoots for over a year working at this client’s location. The buildings have had plenty of time to soak in to my brain and I notice new details in the architecture every time I visit this facility to shoot. The most recent revelation was realizing that they’d designed waterfalls into the architecture for when we get desert rains. I got caught off-guard during a shoot and a storm rolled in, but it provided me a new glimpse into some amazing building design that very few people even get to see at this facility. So I wrote them a quick note to let them know their design elements were noted and appreciated. I never asked for work, or for them to view our website, just a thank you. I left it at that.
They did their homework though. The email was passed up to a senior partner and he later emailed me to commend our imagery of their project. He also wanted to open a discussion about licensing some shots for their portfolio. Hopefully, Radiant will be shooting some of their past and future projects directly for the firm.
Never underestimate the power of a stamp. Never underestimate a sincere email.
Happy New Year to you all!