Seven ways to craft a killer self-promo campaign

Half of your job as a freelancer is to market yourself - and this rule applies to studios, too. Whether you’re cooking up a self-promotional campaign in print or digital, make sure you always get the essentials right with our expert tips...

The fundamental secrets for crafting a sharp self-promo campaign are the same, whatever your medium. Whether you’re using a piece of tactile print collateral to catch a commissioning editor’s eye, or enticing a prospective client to click through from your e-newsletter, make sure you hit all the right notes with these seven expert tips.

1. Figure it out
Think carefully about costs before you start. While you’ll be hoping for quick, positive results, be realistic about how much you can afford to spend based on current finances. Set – and stick to – a budget that won’t cripple you while you’re waiting to reap the benefits.

2. Call to action
A great self-promo campaign starts with a clear objective. While the ultimate aim is to win work, you’ll need to identify a more immediate call to action, whether that’s viewing a website or using a branded product. Your self-promotion materials and communication should always be created with this initial response in mind.

FS Emeric

To celebrate the launch of type design director Phil Garnham’s new typeface, FS Emeric (, Fontsmith teamed up with Exeter-based studio Believe In ( to create a beautifully printed type specimen booklet – which was posted out to people across the creative community

3. Know your sell
You’ll need to have a clear brand message in mind. You need to know exactly what you’re selling and who you’re selling it to, before you think about the how. To make sure your carefully crafted campaign reaches the right person at the right time, pick up the phone and do some research. There’s no point writing to an abandoned inbox, sending parcels to an obsolete address or targeting someone who’s abroad at a trade show.

4. What’s your hook?
Think tactically about your target audience and what’s most likely to grab their attention. A time-pressed art editor who sees numerous portfolios may appreciate the convenience of a click-through from a digital mailer, but tactile print collateral that’s designed to wow will always cut through digital noise.

5. Craft is crucial
A cracking idea is a great starting point, but the execution needs to do it justice: craft matters as much as concept. This doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money – it might simply be a case of putting in the time and effort to make your campaign great. Remember: no self-promo campaign exists in a vacuum. It’s part of a wider branding system and needs to work well with your visual identity – your logo (if you have one), colour schemes and so on – unless it’s a deliberate change.

The stunning FS Emeric specimen booklet walks through Phil Garnham's creative process, while showing off the different weights in a range of brand applications for print, digital, signage and packaging.

The stunning FS Emeric specimen booklet walks through Phil Garnham's design process, while showing off the different weights in a range of brand applications for print, digital, signage and packaging.

6. Finer details
Pay very careful attention to the finer details of your campaign and enlist other people to check over the final product before you send it. Your amazing first impression could all too easily be scuppered by a spelling error or printing snafu – you don’t want to be remembered for all the wrong reasons. And do an initial test run to iron out any delivery issues before launch. The fact that you’ve underpaid on postage, your email looks wrong on a major operating system or you’ve hidden a video from public view isn’t something you’ll want to hear from other people.

7. Don’t be a stalker
Contact recipients to check they received your promo, ask what they thought and suggest a meeting, but don’t become their new stalker or expect instant attention. A week is often a good time to leave it, as your promo will still be fresh in their minds without you seeming over-eager.

After more expert self-promotional tips?
Pick up a copy of The Self-Promo Handbook: your definitive guide to increasing your exposure and winning more work. It’s on sale now in WHSmith in the UK, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million in the USA, Chapters in Canada and other retailers worldwide, or buy a copy online.

Opening image: DixonBaxi's limited edition poster for Fontsmith. DixonBaxi was one of 11 leading studios that Fontsmith asked to produce a poster design to help celebrate the launch of FS Emeric. Scroll down for more...

Non Format FS Emeric poster

Non Format's FS Emeric poster

Build FS Emeric poster

Build also got involved

Studio Dumbar FS Emeric poster

Studio Dumbar's FS Emeric poster