TENacious and the art of self promotion

Case study by Ric Riordon RGD, Riordon Design
Ric presents a case study of Riordon Design's recent promotional project, TENacious, a print piece showcasing Riordon's design and concept capabilities.



TENacious – a promotional piece showcasing Riordon’s design and concept capabilities. 



Every year Riordon Design produces a unique promotional print piece that is sent out over the holidays as a year-end gift to clients, prospects and friends. The intent is to showcase Riordon’s concept development and creative skills and illustrate a unique dimension of the firm. The project also enhances morale within the studio by providing a less restrained creative experience than many corporate projects provide, injecting some additional fun into the work we do.


Riordon Design has a core database of close to 1,000. Because of the cost to produce this piece, we needed to be as discretionary as possible when sending it out. We usually distill the number of recipients down to 500 key people who have supported our business in some way over the past year. Many of these were handed out personally to contacts in our region over the two weeks prior to Christmas. The rest were distributed by mail and courier to the US and overseas.


TENacious started as an idea spurred by a futurist we heard speak a few years ago in Atlanta at a design conference. The talk was on the importance of 10-year-olds being used in market research for conceptualizing new product trends.

We put the word out to our network of contacts to identify 10 boys and 10 girls, all 10 years of age, to take 10 photographs of anything that interested them. This took us as far as New York City and Trinidad. We asked them to give a sentence explaining the significance of each of the 10 images.

The images, and thinking behind them, that we received from the kids were quite remarkable and provided great insights into their fresh perspectives. Tying this into the number 10 and some of its mathematical uniqueness, along with quotes from famous folk, added further thought-provoking content for the book.


In terms of measuring response related to generating interest or sales for Riordon, these pieces are soft sell and not as traceable as online or direct mail marketing. This is really an investment, a profile enhancement piece. Just before the holidays we did receive an email from the Senior VP of Corporate Communications at Universal Music Group in New York, thanking us and wanting to talk to us about a project that had come to mind when she received our piece. These are the responses we hope for.

This year's piece isn't time sensitive like some of our past endeavours, meaning we'll be able to use it throughout the year to give to new clients and prospects.

Some thoughts on self-promotional projects from Ric Riordon RGD.

Three things should be considered when creating a promotional project.

  1. Be extravagant. Yes, it's possible to be creative and not spend a lot. But often, if you really want to get the attention of bigger opportunities, nothing replaces a generous, extravagant abandon to creative expression. No, this doesn't replace a good concept, but if you accomplish both and send it to the right people, you will get results.
  2. Be imaginative. Think beyond the usual. Include those you trust who are gifted with great imaginations to collaborate on the conceptualization and execution. It will probably take you where you can't go on your own. Imagination isn't just about the idea. Be imaginative about how you produce and deliver as well. For example, sometimes vendors you work with through the year will come along side and contribute materials and production for a credit on your piece, or at least give you a break.
  3. Be careful. Once you've nailed that great concept, there are usually a number of ways to execute the presentation. Some will be more expensive than others. Don't shortcut impact by "cheaping out" on the production, but don't be silly either. Count the cost and measure it against the possible return – don't spend more than you should. This includes thinking about how you're going to deliver it. What will the package look like? How much will it cost to deliver? Consider how well it will arrive and layer the impression.