Market Focus - Graphic Designers
By Irene Cherkassky
In direct marketing, it's always important to have creative that stands out and makes an impact. Stunning creative may be even more imperative when you're reaching out to graphic designers. After all, these folks are paid to know and create good design.
According to Rick Grefé, executive director for the New York City-based American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), the professional association for design, there are "160,000 graphic designers of the kind we normally consider fully qualified." And approximately another 320,000 have engaged in some aspect of graphic design at a more amateur level, according to the organization.
And forget about the cliché of the starving artist. Graphic artists are, for the most part, a well-to-do group. "Although the demand for graphic designers has somewhat declined since the dot-com boom, this is still a very lucrative career," says Jeremy Johnson, account manager for Peterborough, N.H.-based Millard Group Inc. "I've seen nationwide surveys that indicate a graphic designer hired for an entry level position can expect to receive around $35,000 to $40,000, with some individuals making well over $100,000." Overall, this is a well-educated group, with most employers requiring graphic designers to come equipped with a college education, even for entry-level positions.
These professionals are technologically savvy, having long ago traded paper and pencils for the computer screen and mouse. Tools of the trade now include software programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Quark XPress and Adobe InDesign, just to name a few. And, since both hardware and software continually are being upgraded, these professionals need to keep up with the latest trends in technology. Therefore, software and hardware offers are of particular interest to them. Apple's Macintosh computer systems often are the standard in this field. "Some of my general software and technology mailers have mailed to the graphic design lists with success," adds Johnson. "However, we have experienced limited success mailing art-related offers to this market."
Moreover, these professionals always are on the lookout for means to keep abreast of the latest trends and skills. "If you're working in that field, you have to constantly keep in touch with what's out there," says Gary Gilroy, senior account executive for Brewster, N.Y.-based Mal Dunn Associates. "They're always looking for magazines and catalogs to see the things that are out."
Continuing education is a must for these folks. Jane McDonnell, senior account executive for Newtown, Pa.-based MKTG Services, says, "We're getting lots of orders for offers for seminars in graphics, things that would further their careers, including webinars and books in that field."
McDonnell also notes that this is a very entrepreneurial profession, with many graphic designers working in small or home offices. This dictates a need for a slew of office-related products aside from computers, from office furniture to printers to office supplies—anything and everything to make a business run. Other secondary products and/or services that work for this market include credit card and travel offers.
Plan to Impress
Whatever the product or service you're marketing to the graphic design niche, the key is to make your creative memorable. "Mailers have to be very careful when mailing to graphic designers, and remember that they're mailing to a group of creative individuals and in some cases, individuals who design mail pieces for a living," says Millard's Johnson. "Graphic designers will be very critical of what comes in the mail and may even decide to open or not open based on appearance." An ordinary #10 envelope won't do. "Instead, successful mailers will mail very flashy, and in some cases, very expensive pieces," adds Johnson. McDonnell agrees, "I think more splashy creative is going to catch their eyes, as opposed to copy-heavy content."
Gilroy suggests that mailing in the second and fourth quarter tends to work best, particularly for educational offers that need to drop in time for the spring and fall semesters. But as with any consumer niche, it's good to keep in mind the offer and the audience when scheduling your campaign. "For instance, if a mailer has a magazine that is geared toward entry-level design, it may make sense to create a campaign that is mailed around June or July," says Johnson. "By doing this, you can reach individuals who were just hired out of college for entry- level positions, and the mailer would be reaching an individual who has a strong desire to learn more and propel their career to the next level."
Overall, this is a group that likes to be on the cutting edge. "From my experience, they tend to enjoy the arts and appreciate art culture," adds Johnson. "They make a very attractive prospect for those who wish to reach an affluent, tech-savvy individual."
Lists to Test
Dynamic Graphics Magazine: 18,622 subscribers who are computer graphics professionals. Price: $140/M. Call: MKTG Services, (215) 968-5020.
Graphic Design Firms: 8,598 graphic design firms. Price: $165/M. Call: Mal Dunn Associates, (845) 278-1200.
GraphicsIQ Design Insider: 128,031 subscribers to a weekly newsletter. Price: $150/M. Call: Lake Group Media Inc., (914) 925-2401.
Graphic Designers From The American Executive Network: 257,893 graphic artists, Web designers, and other creative and technical specialists. Price: $175/M. Call: Worldata, (561) 393-8200.
Print Magazine: 38,605 active subscribers to a magazine for graphic designers and advertising professionals. Price: $145/M. Call: Millard Group Inc., (603) 924-9262.
Visual Artists: 46,018 graphic design firms, corporate design departments, advertising agencies and publishing companies. Price: $55/M. Call: Statlistics Management Group, (203) 778-8700.
Zones Graphic Designers and Desktop Publishers: 22,475 buyers of name-brand graphic design and desktop publishing products. Price: $155/M. Call: American List Counsel Inc., (800) 252-5478