1. The Cold Email Approach:
This is one of the many approaches I've used over the years. It works best when you're super committed to one client and have a strong idea for them. It's risky because you put in a lot of leg work without even knowing if you'll get a reply. It's still one of my favorites because it’s authentic. You thought about it, worked hard to build a concept/portfolio, and then went to talk to that one brand. That is powerful.
Crafting your cold email. Here are some things to make sure you do:
- Make it about them: What do they get out of your idea?
- Keep it short and friendly.
- Leave them wanting more. It's a delicate balance between saying too much and not enough.
- Include the link to your portfolio and media kit.
2. Instagram DM:
Useful when you have an audience (doesn’t have to be huge) and a feed that matches the brand because it instantly establishes your credibility.
3. The Cold Phone Call:
In a world that lives more and more online, the cold call is one way you can stand out. The biggest thing to consider is how to not feel like an annoying creep. Be honest with yourself. Are you the one who's always calling your friends and love talking to people on the phone? Then go for this because your style will shine across. If you're awkward on the phone then try the other methods here!
The idea is simple, you literally call the front desk of the brand you want to reach out, introduce yourself and ask to talk to the marketing manager because you have a cool concept for them. There's a large chance that they tell you the person is busy or send you through to their voicemail. Be polite, leave a message, and hope for a call back. Wait 5 days, if nothing's happened, try again. If after two times you can’t get a hold of them, move on. There's a ton of awesome brands out there and your persistence will be rewarded, just respect people's time and privacy.
4. Sending Things Via Mail:
One of the other ways that you can make yourself noticed is by sending a very personal letter with a printed portfolio or a cool object you've built with your portfolio in it. All brands have an HQ where their teams work, that information is public on the internet. Just find the address, the right contact and send your neat package.
5. In-Person Meetings:
This is the most powerful and hardest of all the methods outlined. Basically it takes you walking into the brands HQ and politely asking to meet with the marketing person. I will advise using this method in combination with the phone call or the email.
For example: Send the email with your portfolio, tell them you have a printed version of your book that you'd like to show them, or that you have an idea you'd like to go over with them and see if they can meet for a quick coffee. Just make it about them.
If you have good intentions and are doing this in the clients’ interest, you will be amazed how far this can go.
6. Getting An Introduction:
This is the smartest way to reach out to a client. Obviously it has a difficult cost of entry, you have to get an introduction from a person that is relevant to your desired point of contact at the brand. I know creatives who only reach out to a brand with this method. The more connected you get in the outdoor industry, the more you can use this wild card. The best way to build contacts fast is to attend industry shows like Outdoor Retailer in Denver, which happens twice a year.
Just treat everyone as if they're the most important person on earth and they will give that back to you.
Hope this helps, now get after it.